In September of 2013, I telephoned the management offices of the Frankfurter Verein für soziale Heimstätten e.V. (FV), the business entity in charge of the Reha Werkstatt Oberrad (RWO) which has developed, sold, and managed the Lectron System System product line since 2001. I spoke with Wolfgang Trunk who referred me to Eva Werft (administrative assistant). She fielded several calls from me during the next couple of months and answered numerous questions. She later facilitated setting up an appointment date for me to meet with the deputy managing director of the FV, Wolfgang Schrank on November 12th, 2013 during my first visit to Frankfurt.
We met at the RWO and I was introduced to several RWO key personnel including Steffen Pohl. It was Herr Schrank who made it possible to visit the RWO and meet the Lectron System personnel and tour the Lectron System assembly area.
Mr. Schrank had many business interests and was well-known and respected throughout Europe.
My modest remembrance of Mr. Schrank’s passing may be found here in the Lectron Forum post area.
The following obituary is an English translation from the original that was written by Mr. Dieter Basener, of the Publishing Agency 53 ° North (53°-Nord-Beirats).
The Landesarbeitesgemeinschaft der Werkstätten für Behinderte Menschen in Hessen e.V. mourns over its longtime chairman. The right to work was the maxim of his actions; his contributions were groundbreaking.
The fighter with charm, authentic and fair
Wolfgang Schrank was one of the outstanding personalities of the German workshop scene. For over 40 years he has been responsible for the professional offers for people with mental disabilities of the Frankfurter Verein.
On March 1, 2018, Wolfgang Schrank died unexpectedly.
Wolfgang Schrank was an avowed linker who began his office day regularly with the reading of the FAZ. This apparent contradiction symbolizes his attitude. He did not let himself be forced into drawers, deviated from trodden paths, formed his own opinion. He was anti-capitalist, but even more anti-bureaucratic. His favorite message: Do not let administrative regulations stop you from doing what you think is right. If one is convinced of something, there is always a way.
Wolfgang Schrank was a determined representative of the workshop idea, but a workshop that employees can perceive as normal operations. He is considered to be the inventor of the Hessian concept of the “Agency for Adapted Work”, which states that the workshop must offer diversity and exploit all opportunities for professional participation. With the Frankfurter Verein he realized this guiding idea by example, from day care centers to integration enterprises. The focus was on community-based employment opportunities and services, such as in green areas, in restaurants or at Deutsche Bank.
Wolfgang Schrank came from Lower Bavaria, completed an apprenticeship as a mechanical engineer after middle school, took his final exams in the rebellious Frankfurt of the early 70s in evening classes and landed – by chance – in the field of community psychiatry. For the Frankfurt Association for Social Homes he built, long before this became customary, a special workshop for the mentally ill. This theme did not let him go his life, even if his leather jacket eventually gave way to the casual sweaters and his long hair a short haircut.
Wolfgang Schrank was a practitioner, a doer, a strip-puller, one who danced at many weddings. He was a fighter, but one of charm, authentic, fair. Someone who could argue without breaking bridges. He strongly supported his conviction, but he listened too. Without lavish financial resources, he led one project after another to success. He sought out partners of all kinds: in LAG and BAG, in community psychiatry, in the State Welfare Association, where he led the Left Party or in the ZWST, the central welfare office of the Jews in Germany.
With his basic optimism and gripping nature Wolfgang Schrank was a good boss, with the necessary self-confidence, but without arrogance and without airs. He knew most of his employees, with and without disabilities. He took time for individual problems, advised, sought individual solutions. He lived his leftist conviction in a very personal effort for those who have bad starting conditions, for the disadvantaged and the marginalized.
If you wanted to look for a weakness, you might find it in the fact that the “system cabinet” was tailored to him and that it will be difficult for his successors to unbundle and absorb the many threads. He recently left his seat on the management board of the Frankfurter Verein when he joined retirement and focused on the management of the integration companies. It did not detract from his energy and creativity – until he was put to an end, in the midst of his activities and far too soon.
With us, the team of 53 ° North, Wolfgang Schrank has been thinking about the further development of professional participation in the last five years. He has planned events with us and moderated conferences. His death hits us in the middle of everyday life, unexpected and difficult to process. We will miss him.
Obituary by Dieter Basener, Publishing Agency 53 ° North