Richard Barancik, the last surviving member of the Allied unit known as the Monuments Men and Women, which during and after World War II preserved a huge amount of European works of art and cultural treasures that were looted and hidden by Nazi Germany, died on July 14 in Chicago. He was 98.

His death, in hospital, was confirmed by his daughter Jill Barancik.

Mr. Barancik (pronounced ba-RAN-sick) was one of four members of what was formally called the Department of Monuments, Fine Arts and Archives, who received the Congressional Gold Medal in 2015 in Washington for their “heroic role in the conservation, protection, restitution of monuments, works of art and artifacts of cultural importance.”

On the day of the ceremony, Mr. Barancik told The Los Angeles Times: “The Americans were concerned about the cultural traditions of Europe. We did everything we could to save what the Nazis had done. It’s the best we could do.”

An Army private first class, Mr. Barancik served in England and France — where he was not on the front lines, his daughter said, and enjoyed the marching, food and structure of military life — until Germany surrendered. After being deployed to Salzburg, Austria, he volunteered for the Monuments Men serving for three months as a driver and guard.

The Monuments Men and Women were composed of approximately 350 people—among them museum directors, curators, academics, historians, and artists—whose missions included steering Allied bombers away from cultural targets in Europe; supervising repairs when damages have occurred; and tracing millions of objects looted by the Nazis and returning them to the institutions and the countries from which they came.

Mr. Barancik, who later became an architect, was interested in art. He drew cartoons for his high school newspaper and found it exciting to see churches and other buildings in Europe. But as a Monument Man, he probably didn’t see many of the paintings, sculptures and other artifacts he guarded and transported to an Allied collection point; they were in boxes.

“Someone might have said, ‘There’s a Vermeer in there,’ and he knew the art was important or valuable,” said Robert Edselthe founder and president of the Memorials Men and Women Foundation, who interviewed Mr. Barancik and 20 other survivors of the unit for his book “The Monuments Men: Allied Heroes, Nazi Thieves, and the Greatest Treasure Hunt in History” (2009, with Bret Witter). The book was adapted in the movie “The Monuments Men (2014)”, which George Clooney directed and starred in.

Mr. Edsel said Mr. Barancik was cautious during their two interviews, surprised by the interest in the short-lived Monumental, who, unlike his more experienced colleagues, did not have an artistic specialty.

“He seemed more curious about me that I could put into perspective what he did, like he didn’t realize where he fit in the big picture,” Mr. Edsel said by phone.

Ms. Barancik said her father “was very embarrassed by the attention” he received for receiving the Congressional Gold Medal.

“He didn’t feel like a hero,” she said by phone. “He said, ‘I was a kid, I was there for three months. It’s wrong for me to take credit.’ But I would say to him: ‘You were a witness, you represent the people who are no longer with us.'”

Mr. Edsel recalled that after the ceremony, Mr. Barancik told him, “I am so deeply grateful for what you and the foundation have done, and it is an honor beyond my ability to express it.”

Richard Morton Barancik was born on October 19, 1924 in Chicago. His father, Henry, was a family physician and served as the chief of staff at South Shore Hospital; his mother, Carrie (Grawoig) Barancik, was a housewife and played piano for ballet classes.

After his time as a Monumentalist, Mr. Barancik stayed in Europe to study architecture at the University of Cambridge, in England and the École des Beaux-Arts, in Paris. Returning to the United States, he entered the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in architecture in the late 1940s.

In 1950 he opened an architectural firm, Barancik, Conte & Associates, with one of his design instructors at the University of Illinois. The firm designed private homes, office towers, suburban office complexes, bowling alleys, schools and luxury apartment buildings.

“I really practice architecture seven days a week, all my waking hours,” he told The Chicago Tribune in 1986. “It’s an all-consuming profession.” He retired in 1993.

In addition to his daughter Jill, Mr. Barancik is survived by two other daughters, Cathy Graham and Ellie Barancik; two sons, Robert and Michael; four grandchildren; and three great-grandchildren. His marriage to Rema Stone ended in divorce, and his marriages to Claire Holland and Suzanne Hammerman ended in their deaths.

One of the benefits of the attention that came to Mr. Barancik as a Memorialist was the correspondence he received.

“He would get fan mail and, once a week, an autograph request,” Ms. Barancik said. “He would receive sensitive letters from people, many of them from schoolchildren, who carried on the conversation.”

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