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Zoltán Mózes György Nagy

February 22, 1939 — December 2, 2023

Toronto

Zoltán Mózes György Nagy

We sadly announce the passing of Zoltán Mózes György Nagy, known to most as George Nagy, on December 2, 2023.  He died peacefully in the presence of his daughters in Toronto’s Rekai Centre, the Long-Term Care Facility whose staff took wonderful care of George in his final years.   

 

George was born in Hódmezővásárhely, Hungary, on February 22, 1939, just months before World War II began.  His family had longstanding Transylvanian roots, boasting a proud Protestant tradition with Ministers in the family lineage dating back over four centuries.  George grew up in the small agricultural Hungarian town of Makó, located a few kilometers from the Transylvanian border, where his father worked as a veterinarian and his mother’s family owned a pharmacy.  

 

As the country reeled in the aftermath of the War and the Soviet occupation solidified, George’s mother’s pharmacy was “nationalized” and his father’s traditionally conservative politics threatened the family’s well-being, forcing it to set clandestine plans in place to leave Hungary.  In 1947, his father moved to France to work; in 1949, George’s mother, with ten-year-old George and his younger sister Kathy in tow, dramatically crossed into Austria in the middle of the night with the help of a guide, walking across the border marked by double rows of barbed wire fencing with land mines in between.  The three of them spent two years living in several displaced persons camps, though George did have the opportunity to attend boarding schools specifically for refugee boys – which he did not find a pleasant experience.

 

In 1951, George’s father managed to return from France to Austria so they could emigrate beyond Europe as a family – with the option of New Zealand or Canada as their destination countries, they chose Canada.  After enduring long ocean travel on the Anna Salen ship from Bremerhaven (Germany) to Halifax during which George contracted Scarlet Fever, they initially lived in Toronto’s Roncesvalles neighborhood where his parents found jobs as hospital orderlies.  In 1952, they moved to tiny Bonnyville, Alberta, since a younger Hungarian veterinarian whom George’s father had met in France, and who already had a thriving practice in nearby St. Paul, invited him to share the work in his practice.  George was an outstanding student, balancing his studies with part-time work for a local bakery, delivering bread and operating the slicing machine.  

 

A few years later, the family again relocated – this time to Vancouver, where George’s father took a job as a meat inspector which required an extensive veterinarian background.  George gained admission to nearby University of British Columbia, earning a B.Sc. in Chemical Engineering in 1963.  In one of the many letters he penned over the years to his children dispensing a variety of advice, he cautioned: “Expect to work hard while you are young, the thing to do now is to try to make investments that will provide a return, and allow you to enjoy life when you retire from work.”  True to form, George took on many odd jobs next to his university studies, including as a paperboy, roofer, driver, delivery boy, and surveyor.  

 

Upon graduation from U.B.C., George moved east, working for the City of Montreal’s engineering department on air pollution and quality control issues before being hired in 1965 as a design engineer in Kingston by DuPont, one of the world's largest producers of chemicals and agricultural products.  While living in Kingston, he took a trip to Hungary and met his future wife, Beatrix Fényes.  They were married in Kingston when she emigrated to Canada and they had two daughters - Chrysta and Beatrix (Trixie) - before divorcing in 1982.  He was thereafter married to Eva Baksh from 1986 until they divorced in 1993.  

 

As a professional engineer, George firmly planted his roots in Toronto in 1968, taking on the role of an Approvals Engineer at Ontario’s Ministry of the Environment where he worked on several projects related to pollution control until his early retirement in 1995.  He spent much of his retirement years traveling, including to South America, Africa, and Europe, though his most frequent trips were directly back to his roots – to his native Hungary and Transylvania (in present day Romania) - where he loved spending time in his hometown of Makó, which now offers a selection of thermal baths to tourists which he particularly enjoyed.  In Transylvania, he visited long-lost relatives, discovering that, in the small town of Felvinc near his father’s birthplace of Torda, about 60% of the population were his blood relatives.  George also was a benefactor of the now-renowned orphanage in Deva, to which he delivered suitcases of much-needed clothing and provided financial support.

 

He also made frequent trips to Cuba, his all-time favorite tropical destination.  He wrote this in one of his letters: “Cuba is interesting because it reminds me of Hungary as I saw it in 1963 when I first went back to meet Beatrix.  There are many people out in the open working the fields, cutting sugar cane, driving horse drawn buggies, riding horses, even plowing with oxen.”  When he wasn’t traveling, George was always available to babysit his five grandchildren or run helpful errands for his family members.  He continued to take on part-time work as a Hungarian-English translator, such as interpreting at in-court asylum hearings and translating complex scientific patents.

 

George began suffering from stroke-induced vascular dementia approximately a decade ago.  After surviving a house fire in 2016, he moved into the Grenadier Retirement Residence next to Toronto’s High Park, just blocks from where he first lived in Toronto as a child.  Though his body remained strong, his memory started to slowly fade.  In 2020, he relocated to the Rekai Centre, whose Hungarian founders, Paul and John Rekai, had also escaped Soviet occupancy in the late 1940’s, just like George.  In his last few days, George’s body slowly succumbed to peaceful closure.  We are particularly grateful to the staff of the 4 East Floor at the Rekai Centre, who provided George with compassionate, top-notch care over the last three years.  They literally stayed with him to the very end, as the entire Rekai staff assembled and accompanied George’s body out of the building in the hours after his passing.  

 

George is survived by his daughters Chrysta Musselman and Beatrix (Trixie) Nagy and their husbands Rob Musselman and Kalman Magyar; his five grandchildren (Noah and Juliet Farberman; Csenge, Soma, and Bibor Magyar); and his sister Kathy Zimon in Calgary and her family.  George’s family will be holding a private ceremony while laying George to rest in Toronto’s Mount Pleasant Cemetery, close to his beloved residence on Sheldrake Boulevard.  Please contact Kalman Magyar at kalmanmagyar@yahoo.com for further information. 

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