Oscar Ulysses Zerk

Oscar Ulysses Zerk

Birth
Vienna, Wien Stadt, Vienna (Wien), Austria
Death 8 Dec 1968 (aged 90)
Kenosha, Kenosha County, Wisconsin, USA
Burial Kenosha, Kenosha County, Wisconsin, USA
Memorial ID 21910566 · View Source
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Engineer and inventor, the son of Flora and Bernard Zerk, a textile merchant in the former Austro-Hungarian empire. Zerk's surname is permanently attached to the check-valve lubrication fitting known worldwide as the "Zerk fitting". He arrived in America on June 30, 1924 at age 46 aboard the 'Leviathan'. Long before America discovered the secret of a fresh cup of coffee, Oscar Ulysses Zerk invented a personal coffee bean grinder for his kitchen, but the brilliant Kenoshan thought it so unimportant that he never bothered to apply for a patent. He did, however, patent some 300 other inventions during his 90-year life, a remarkable record. His engineering creativeness asserted itself in a multitude of fields: leg-slimming hosiery, quick-freezing ice cube trays, spatterproof nail brushes, fail-safe brakes for trolley/interurban cars, vibration-free camera tripods, oil well recovery systems, and automotive refrigeration equipment. But Zerk's most important invention -- and the one that earned him the most money -- was the tiny grease fitting, a lubrication system which became the basis for those used on nearly every car, truck, plane and other mechanized vehicle. At the time of his death in 1968, it was estimated that 20 billion of those fittings had been manufactured. He also is credited with designing and patenting stamped metal wheels and wheel covers for autos which, in the 1920s, offered a stylish alternative to wooden artillery wheels and wire wheels. He also devised a type of non-skid vehicular brakes. Zerk was in the worldwide press after a daring robbery at his opulent and art-filled Kenosha mansion 'Dunmovin' on February 4, 1954. Zerk was tied to a chair as the invaders stole an untold number of valuable paintings and escaped with the artworks in Zerk's personal car. The robbery was never solved.

Bio by: Louis Rugani


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  • Maintained by: Find A Grave
  • Originally Created by: Louis Rugani
  • Added: 3 Oct 2007
  • Find A Grave Memorial 21910566
  • Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for Oscar Ulysses Zerk (16 May 1878–8 Dec 1968), Find A Grave Memorial no. 21910566, citing Green Ridge Cemetery, Kenosha, Kenosha County, Wisconsin, USA ; Maintained by Find A Grave .