Farewell to Count Paul Benyovszky de Benyó et Urbanó
(2/8/1926 - 4/16/2021)
Charles Bálintitt Jr.
Benyovszky Pali was born in Budapest, Hungary on February 8th, 1926 and was educated by the Piarists. He went on to receive a degree in electrical engineering, but in the 1950s he worked as an electrician. Under Communism, all had to do what they could to survive. He was already a friend of my father’s, who was basically a window repairman; while another friend of theirs, Polányi László, was a chimney sweep, later becoming a respected historian in Vienna.
A week or so after my recently married parents escaped from Hungary, Pali followed with his fiancée, Dőry de Jobaháza Katalin and reached Austria and freedom, on December 1, 1956. They were married in Vienna on December 13, 1956, in the first of 3 wedding ceremonies. The next one would take place in their new adopted country of America on January 6, 1957.
Pali went on to begin a career as an electrical engineer with IBM in Kingston, NY. But as is often the case at IBM, he had to move to Kentucky. This is where I first met them, when my parents drove there for a visit when I was 2 years old. This is where they also met up with their friends Vámos István and Lili. Kati and Lili were not only best friends since elementary school; but were also born on the same day (11/26/1934). My mother was also a good friend of both from childhood, as well as of Pali.
After some years and moves to Indiana and Wisconsin, Vámos István was offered a good position with a company in Pennsylvania and persuaded Pali and Kati (which was not too difficult) to go there as well. This is where they have lived ever since, in Doylestown, PA. And this is where I met them again about 50 years ago. By then the Benyovszkys had two daughters and two sons and the Vámos’ had four daughters.
Some of Pali’s life choices may have been influenced by his Piarist upbringing. The motto of the Piarists is: “Pietas et Litterae” (Piety and Learning), but more so their raison d’être is “For the Glory of God and the Service of our Neighbor”, and this is what Pali exemplified throughout his life. He had a strong belief in God, an unshakeable faith and a willingness always to help others.
I will never forget his smile, the sincerity in his eyes and his unique handshake. He would shake my hand for what sometimes seemed like minutes, but may have been only 30 or 40 seconds, while asking how I was doing and how my family was doing and keenly intent on the responses I would give because he was such a caring and compassionate man.
On August 7th, 2020, a tornado touched down in Doylestown, PA with the worst devastation in the area surrounding the Benyovszky’s home. While their immediate neighbor’s home was utterly devastated, and there was much destruction all around them, their property was miraculously untouched. It was as if God had sent his angels to protect his home, while saying: “Do not even let a hair on My servant Pali’s head be touched, as I will be calling him home soon enough.”
Pali was deeply religious and a devout Catholic. At his funeral, the priest told the story of how he had been asked to come to the house and hear his confession and give him Communion, knowing that he did not have much time left. Unfortunately, the priest was terribly busy and could not get there for over a week. He finally had some time, late Thursday afternoon and went to the Benyovszky home and heard Pali’s confession and gave him Communion. Pali died peacefully less than 24 hours later, as if he had just held on for these final Catholic sacraments. He returned to his heavenly Father on the afternoon of April 16th, 2021, which also would have been my mother’s 86th birthday.
Pali’s legacy is not only the wonderful family he leaves behind, including Kati (after 64 years of marriage), their four children, eight grandchildren and two great-grandchildren, but the love that he leaves in all our hearts, who knew him well.
Rarely in your life will you be lucky enough to meet someone like Benyovszky Pali, but for myself to have also been able to consider him a close family friend has been one of the true honors of my life.
Requiescat in pacem! You have just made heaven a little more elegant!
Charles Bálintitt Jr. is a working Customs Broker in Lawrence, NY and a member of the Magyar News Online Editorial Board.