Dr. Franklin Salek, Sr. 1937-2020
PhD in Civil Engineering, NJ Vintner, Beekeeper
On August 9th, 2020, Dr. Franklin Salek Sr. of Germania and Clifton, New Jersey, died at the age of 83. He was born in 1937 in Passaic, the second of four children to Victor and Wanda Salek.
Throughout his youth, Dr. Salek showed an exceptional aptitude for athletics and a great desire for knowledge, which led to both a football and academic collegiate scholarship. After graduation from Passaic High School, Dr. Salek received his B.S. in Civil Engineering from Worcester Polytechnic Institute in Massachusetts. Upon completion of active duty in the United States Army Corps of Engineers, he attended Rutgers University Graduate School and earned his Master’s degree and PhD. He was a senior professor at the New Jersey Institute of Technology, where he taught for 32 years. During this time, he also worked on research projects for the State of New Jersey and was recognized in “Who’s Who in America“ for his professional acumen in the field of Civil Engineering.
While creating a highly successful career, Dr. Salek discovered winemaking. Like all of his life endeavors, it was not enough to just know the basics. He studied and mastered every detail. What started as a hobby in his father-in-law’s basement became a lifetime of dedication and passion. Dr. Salek believed that great wines are created in the field, and with this in mind, his search for the ideal climate and soil led him to 40 acres in Germania, located in southern New Jersey, where Sylvin Farms Winery was established.
Dr. Salek was a pioneer in successfully growing Vinifera grapes in New Jersey. Vinifera grapes were said not to be sustainable in the state, but his research and techniques proved themselves. He won over 100 awards and was the recipient six-times of the Governor’s Cup for the best wine in the state. Whether being referred to as the “Guru of Grapes” by The New York Times or “New Jersey’s Father of Vinifera,” Dr. Salek played a pivotal role in what is now the standard of Vinifera wines in the state and in the development of the New Jersey Wine Industry. He was a long-standing member of the Garden State Wine Growers Association and the Dionysian Wine Society.
In recent years, Dr. Salek undertook a new venture, Beekeeping. He turned his focus to Apicology, the scientific study of Honeybees. Once again, his quest for knowledge and excellence had him taking courses, reading books, joining the New Jersey Beekeepers Association, building hives, and harvesting delicious organic honey.
Dr. Salek was predeceased by his wife Sylvia Colagiuri Salek and his brother Vincent Salek. He is survived by his son Frank Salek Jr.; daughter Susan Salek Rumpf; their spouses Natalie and Clifford; grandson Nick Salek; sisters Judy Wolak and Barbara Hartmann; in addition to numerous nieces and nephews.
Limited Memorial Service to be held Thursday, August 20th, 4:00 – 8:00PM at Bizub-Quinlan Funeral Home, 1313 Van Houten Avenue, Clifton, NJ. Mandatory face masks, social distancing/no physical contact and limited internal facility access will be followed. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made in the name of Dr. Franklin Salek Sr. to the NJ Humane Society or Seeing Eye Society.
“Celebration of Life Service” to be announced. Contact email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org for information.
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New Jersey Humane Society
6412 Dewey Avenue, West New York NJ 07093
The Seeing Eye
P.O. Box 375, Morristown NJ 07963-0375