Members of the Hungarian American Coalition are saddened to learn that Árvéd Teleki, a Coalition member and longtime supporter of Hungarian minority rights, passed away peacefully on September 18 in Houston, Texas. He was 84 years old.
Árvéd Teleki, son of the late Count Árvéd Teleki and Countess Suzanne Kovács Teleki, was born in Cluj, Romania (formerly Kolozsvár, Hungary) on June 6, 1929. His was a true American immigrant story. At the age of fifteen, he escaped from Transylvania to avoid certain oppression under Communism, leaving on foot, in the midst of war, with only a suitcase. He emigrated to Switzerland and then the United States, where he built a new life in New York and then Houston. He was always grateful for the opportunity he found in his adopted homeland, and his larger-than-life personality made him a natural Texan.
Árvéd married Ruth Shipley MacMahon in 1966, and together they raised four daughters. The family’s best memories are of the adventures he led in the tradition of his Transylvanian upbringing, especially hikes in the mountains of Big Bend and long sunrise walks on the beach.
A noted economist and advisor in the oil and gas industry, Árvéd began his career at Union Carbide. In 1967, he founded Hydrocarbon Consultants, Inc., which he led for 35 years. He was then Chief Economist at Chemical Market Associates, Inc., until, at the age of 82, he “took early retirement.”
He was educated at the Rosenberg Academy in Switzerland, Heidelberg College in Ohio, and Harvard College, from which he graduated in 1953. Árvéd was dedicated to his family and was a mentor to many. He is remembered for his contagious passion for and encyclopedic knowledge of history, politics, and world affairs; his eloquence, integrity, and work ethic; his spiritual connection to the outdoors, his lifelong support of Hungarian causes; and above all, his love for life.
His support of Hungarian causes began with his first job at the Mid-European Studies Center. In 1956, he, like so many others here, advocated for Hungary and helped settle new immigrants in the U.S. through Church World Services. He was politically active in the U.S., supporting anti-communist causes throughout the Cold War era. In the 1970s and 1980s, he co-founded and was president of the Hungarian-American Cultural Association of Houston. This organization was active hosting human rights activists and dissident writers in order to understand and advocate for the situation in Hungary and Transylvania during those times. In the 1990s, he was a board member of HAC and wholly supported its efforts to promote Hungary’s rejoining Europe and the Western alliances. In more recent years, he valued the opportunity to reconnect with family and friends in Hungary and Transylvania.
He is survived by Ruth, his wife of 47 years; his four daughters: Adrienne of Brooklyn, NY; Stephanie of Piedmont, CA; Alix and Katharine of Austin, TX; their families, including five grandchildren; and his brother Denéb of Rio Rancho, NM.
In lieu of flowers, the family encourages support of Hungarian education in Transylvania, a cause that was dear to him. Donations can be made in his name to the Calvin Synod School Fund, P.O. Box 36141, Canton, Ohio, 44735. Memorial services in Houston and West Virginia will be announced at a later date.