Farewell and remembrance of Mrs Krystyna Koelner

4 min

The day before, she was there at our headquarters, in the office on Kwidzyńska. She talked to us, joked and made plans for the future. We now take a moment to remember Krystyna Koelner, founder of the Koelner company (based in Wroclaw) and co-author of Rawlplug's international success.

Krystyna Koelner, 1937 – 2024 

No one seemed to expect it. Not death itself, because at a certain age that is no longer a surprise – but that it would come so suddenly and without warning. 

Krystyna visited the company often and regularly even when it was no longer her duty to do so. She would never hide in some office where hardly anyone would be able to find her. She preferred to be among and with people. She liked to chat while brewing coffee in the same kitchen as everyone else. And she always made her own coffee. Even if the conversation was short, it was frank and genuine. She didn’t seek to break the silence by talking about the weather. In fact, she abhorred the idea of engaging in small talk, something she had become very familiar in England, where she went to stay with her family, after her first year at university. She simply preferred authentic human contact. 

Her life wasn’t easy. World War II made her an orphan of Volhynia. She was a victim of communist Poland. She lost her job as an English teacher, which she loved, simply because she stood up for her students during martial law. Two years later, she lost her husband, whom she had met while still in secondary school.   

But she never gave up. Prevented by her character built up with a sporting career – after all she was a professional handball player for many years. Once she set herself a goal, she pursued it until she achieved it, despite the obstacles and against them. She gritted her teeth. She thought of her beloved sons, the older Przemysław, and the younger Radosław. She wanted to give them a start that she herself hadn’t had. She sought to look after their future. There was nothing she cared about more.   

She founded the Koelner company in 1983. Using an old injection moulding machine, that she bought very cheap from a friend, she produced a test series of buttons, all by herself. This business didn't work out, however. The authorities did not like the fact that Krystyna's son Przemysław was organising student protests. The buttons couldn't be sold, even though there was a shortage of everything in the shops at the time. This didn’t break Krystyna Koelner. She turned the buttons into quality wall plugs, which became Koelner's trademark for many years, and later, after the company had already entered the free market, quite naturally led to the purchase of the British brand Rawlplug.   

There were three things she valued most in life: her family, her company with its employees, and her travels. She devoted every free moment to the latter. She loved exploring and visiting other places – but she kept returning to Poland, to Wrocław, to the house she had built with her husband. She would not change it for any other. Well, maybe with one exception. The area around the Italian port city of Bari; quiet, peaceful, beautiful. That's where she could live. That's where she planned to live. "Maybe, someday."  

Krystyna was still at work on Friday. On Monday she was gone. She did not open her room. She did not brew coffee. She did not spread her good humour. Maybe she finally made the decision to take a break. Maybe she finally decided to do something for herself. Maybe she’s just left for Bari, to look for a new home, and then she'll come back, as she always does.  

Maybe we'll meet again one day. 

If you'd like to leave a message of condolence, you can do so here

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