Washington, DC – Members of the Hungarian American Coalition (Coalition) were deeply saddened to learn that László Bőjtös, Honorary Consul General of Hungary, former Coalition Chairman and Board member, founding member of the Hungarian Communion of Friends (MBK), outstanding architect passed away on February 23, 2021. He was 89 years old.
László Bőjtös was born in Vádosfa, Hungary on March 2, 1931. His father was a Lutheran pastor. Between 1950 and 1954 he studied at the Budapest University of Technology and Economics. In 1956, he worked as an architect in Budapest as the Hungarian Revolution began. He and his wife, Györgyi, participated in the initial demonstration in Budapest on October 23, 1956, along with hundreds of thousands of Hungarians demanding their independence from the Soviet rule. They witnessed numerous revolutionary events in Budapest over the following days.
When Soviet tanks crushed the Revolution on November 4, he saw his future as hopeless in Hungary. On December 1, they made the decision to leave the country, crossing the border by foot near the village of Mosonmagyaróvár at night. They were among 200,000 Hungarians who escaped to the West following the 1956 Revolution. With the help of the Lutheran World Association, they arrived to Cleveland, OH by the end of December. They settled in Cleveland where László initially worked as a draftsman and eventually established a successful architectural practice. Over the years, he designed and built many buildings, among them eight churches – five in Ohio, two in Illinois and one in Pennsylvania.
László had a genuine interest in making major contributions to Hungarian American organizations. In 1968 he was one of the founding members of the Hungarian Comunion of Friends. He served as Chairman of the American Hungarian Federation and was elected President of the Magyar Club of Cleveland three times. He served on the Hungarian American Coalition Board since the early 1990s. He participated in the Cleveland Hungarian Development Panel for many years. In 1992 he became Honorary Consul General of the Republic of Hungary. In 2002, he received the Order of Merit Middle Cross of the Republic of Hungary from Hungarian President Ferenc Mádl.
In the Cleveland community, it was well-known that the Bőjtös family hosted every major Hungarian writer, artist, and opposition politician (both before and after the fall of Communism in 1989). Their guestbook is a historic record with entries from over 80 visitors. Over the years, László became close friends with András Sütő, Sándor Csoóri, László Dobos, Mihály Czine, Gyula Borbándi, Ferenc Kósa and many other Hungarian intellectual and civic leaders. He often expressed his deeply-held belief: it is possible to keep one’s Hungarian identity anywhere if we create a Hungarian world for ourselves. His life certainly reflected that principle.
In 2013, the Coalition honored him with an outstanding achievement award for five decades of committed service and inspired leadership of the Hungarian American Community and for his many contributions to the Hungarian American Coalition.
An interview with László from 2010 is available as part of the Memory Project – Visual History Archive of Hungarian Emigration (available here). In the interview, he describes his love for his Hungarian heritage and the importance of passing it onto the next generation.
He is survived by his loving wife of 64 years, Györgyi, his daughters Anita Luksa (Jeff) and Barbara Johnson (Tony) and three grandchildren, Vivien Luksa, Erik and Eva Johnson. They have all been active in Cleveland Hungarian Scout troops and folk dancing.
The Hungarian American community mourns the loss of a true Hungarian patriot who gave so much of himself in public service, both in the United States and Hungary. His legacy is an inspiration to all of us.