In Memoriam: Dr. August J. Molnar 1927-2016

Members of the Hungarian American Coalition (Coalition) are deeply saddened to learn that Dr. August J. Molnar, Founding President of the American Hungarian Foundation of New Brunswick, NJ passed away peacefully on Tuesday, August 30, 2016. He was 89 years old.

Dr. August J. Molnar, the 2008 honoree of the Hungarian American Coalition’s (Coalition) Annual Gala Dinner at the Cosmos Club in Washington, DC

Dr. Molnar’s father, August, immigrated to the United States in 1910 from Kissikátor, Hungary as did his mother, Mary, later.  Born in Cleveland, Ohio, in 1927, Prof. Molnar was a 1945 graduate of Charles F. Brush High School of Lyndhurst, Ohio.  He received his undergraduate education at Elmhurst College (Illinois), and pursued graduate studies at University of Michigan, Lancaster Theological Seminary, Columbia University, and other American universities, including Indiana University and Rutgers-The State University of New Jersey. He moved to New Jersey settling in New Brunswick in 1959.

His professional career began at Elmhurst College (1952-1959), where he was chairman of the Department of Hungarian Studies and also assistant professor of history.  From 1959-1965 as a member of the faculty of Rutgers-The State University, he was instrumental in developing a Hungarian studies program.  There he also served as a project consultant in ethnic studies and as lecturer at the Rutgers School of Education.  Thanks to his efforts, Rutgers-The State University of New Jersey has established an Institute of Hungarian Studies.

Beginning in 1961, Professor Molnar served as project consultant and Hungarian section member of the University of Pennsylvania/Yeshiva University survey of language resources in the United States.  He was director for the Rutgers University Library/American Hungarian Foundation project supported by a grant from the New Jersey Committee for the Humanities.  Earlier, he directed the project supported by The Rockefeller Foundation to catalog and microfilm the Edmund Vasvary Collection on Hungarians in America.

Professor Molnar served as editor and author of numerous books and journal publications. He edited Hungarian Writers and Literature: Modern Novelist, Poets and Critics (1964, Rutgers University Press).  He participated and lectured at national and international conferences, and worked with numerous associations which promote development and cultural ties between the U.S. and Hungary.

In 2001 he was named chairman of the Board of Ethics, City of New Brunswick, NJ.  In 2003 he was named by the Hungarian Academy of Sciences to its Hungarian Council of Sciences. He was also an ordained minister of the United Church of Christ (Calvin Conference).  In 2004, Elmhurst College honored him with the Doctor of Humane Letters degree, and the same year President Ferenc Mádl awarded him the Commander’s Cross of the Order of Merit of the Republic of Hungary.

In recognition for his five decades of service to our community, at its fourth annual gala dinner in 2008, the Coalition honored Dr. August J. Molnar, for his enduring contributions to preserving and promoting the Hungarian-American heritage.

In 2011, the Board of the American Hungarian Foundation honored his work with the prestigious George Washington Award.

Since 1955, Professor August J. Molnar served as the executive officer and president of the American Hungarian Foundation, which celebrated its 60th anniversary in 2015.  He retired in January 2015, becoming the vice-chairman of the Board of Directors of the Foundation. Under his leadership the Foundation initiated and funded new academic programs of Hungarian studies, research and fellowships at numerous colleges and universities in America.

Professor Molnar is predeceased by his wife of 43 years, Priscilla B. Arvay and his sister, Helen Leeders. He is survived by his son and daughter-in-law, John and Karen Molnar of South Brunswick, NJ; his daughter and son-in-law, Katherine and Fabio Sapienza, of Littletown, CO; his sister, Irene Molnar-McKee of Tulsa, OK; and his four grandchildren: Jessica, Christopher and Shannon Molnar and Alessandro Lauro, and many nephews and nieces.

A memorial service will take place in his honor; an announcement will be made.

Memorial contributions can be made at Professor Molnar’s honor to the American Hungarian Foundation, PO Box 1084, New Brunswick, NJ 08903. For more information please contact Managing Director Melissa Katkó Pepin at

The Hungarian American community mourns the loss of this true Hungarian patriot, a long-time leader of the Hungarian community of New Brunswick, NJ and a genuinely good man.

Recent Posts