Joseph “Joe” Radotinsky was born to Charles and Mary Radotinsky on February 26, 1902, in Kirkwood, Missouri, a suburb of Saint Louis. He showed the ability to draw early on in life and was already sketching everything he saw before his family moved to Kansas City, Kansas, when he was seven years old.
As a child he went to Irving School and at age eight was helping the janitor for a salary of $3 a month. Before and during his attendance at old Kansas City High School, Radotinsky was working at Reed’s dairy, where he milked cows before and after school. He was elected class president of his junior class in 1919 and his senior class in 1920.
Radotinsky worked his way through the University of Kansas as a representative of Gallup Map Company, a supply service for architects and engineers. During his senior year at KU, he held concessions at the football and basketball games. In 1924 he graduated with a degree from the school of architecture and engineering. After college he began a career in bridge building. Roger Bishop and Radotinsky formed the B-R Construction Company. Financial difficulties, caused by weather and high water, caused hardships for the company; however, not before they built many bridges in Jefferson, Atchison, and Doniphan counties. After the company disbanded, he moved on to jobs in Birmingham, Alabama, parts of Florida, Asheville, North Carolina, and New York City. In New York he became associated with Thomas Lamb, Inc., one of the largest architecture firms in the country at the time.
While in New York City, Radotinsky participated in several national competitions for students of architecture at Columbia University as well as special work within the institution. He took second place in the coveted Lebrun and received the gold medal award in École-des Beaux Arts, the New York municipal arts competition.
He moved back to Kansas City in 1928, where he worked for the architectural firm Archer and Gloyd, Inc. Later on, he became a member of the firm and eventually a partner.
Radotinsky met his wife, Edna Daniels, in the state architect’s office, where she was his trusted secretary. Two years after Radotinsky’s departure from Topeka, they married on June 30, 1935. They had a daughter, Sandra Gayle Radotinksy. Their daughter shared her father’s love of cattle, pigs, and flying.
Governor Clyde Reed appointed Radotinsky the state architect and he continued in that position through the administration Governor Harry Woodring and the first term of Governor Alfred M. Landon. Landon had just appointed Radotinsky to his fourth term, when the Kansas Board of Education asked him to aid in drafting plans to replace the high school he had once attended, which had burned. The new building was Wyandotte High School, which is listed in the National Register of Historic Places.
One of his specialties being high school architecture, he completed plans for a total of $250 million in schools in the Midwest. He also worked on hospitals and office buildings, and he designed his own residence and those of some friends. He oversaw all parts of the job, from the drawing board to the supervision of construction.
Radotinsky owned his own plane as he had learned how to fly out of necessity. He flew an average of 2,500 miles a week. Architecture wasn’t his only specialty. He was also known for his cattle. He loved Herefords and had a herd on his 2,360 acre ranch located between Wolcott and Lansing. He founded the Kansas City Hereford Club.
Although active all throughout the Midwest, Radotinksy was particularly active in Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska, and Iowa. Although to a lesser degree, he also practiced in adjacent border states such as Ohio, Tennessee, Oklahoma, and South Dakota.
Radotinsky was a recipient of a Distinguished Alumnus Award of the School of Architecture and Urban Design from the University of Kansas in 1981.
He died on August 15, 1983.
Entry: Radotinksy, Joseph
Author: Kansas Historical Society
Author information: The Kansas Historical Society is a state agency charged with actively safeguarding and sharing the state's history.
Date Created: June 2016
Date Modified: June 2016
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