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ZOLTAN LAZLO BARY

Born: March 5, 1938
Died: November 29, 2012

Zoltan Laszlo Bary was born in Budapest, Hungary on March 5, 1938, son of Odon Bary and Ersebet Koller, restaurateurs. A committed sportsman since his youth in the 1940’s, Zoltan was a member of the swimming and ice hockey teams of Vasas in Budapest. In 1951 he was a member of the Hungarian National Ice Hockey Team.

Zoltan fled Hungary in the fall of 1956 after the Hungarian uprising against Communist rule was crushed by Soviet tanks and troops. Zoltan never spoke of the revolution or his escape to America. He was part of the flood of Hungarian athletes who fled at that time including 3 other notable swimmers, Balascz Gyorffy (Yale 1961), Carl Vitez Ormandy (Yale 1963) and Peter Fogarassy, who attended North Carolina State.

Zoltan arrived in Camp Kilmer, NJ, a Refugee Reception Center in 1956 under the U.S. government Operation Mercy program. He was quickly resettled and prepared for Yale at Mt. Hermon in Massachusetts participating in soccer, swimming and track. At his graduation from Mt. Hermon in 1958 he was awarded the Harriet Cutler Heiser Memorial Award. The alumni office of Mt. Hermon (now Northfield Mt. Hermon) reported that school records show he was undefeated in his breaststroke events.

At Yale, Zoltan was a member of Silliman. He roomed sophomore year with fellow swimmers Bill McMaster and Bob Boni. He played soccer and was on the varsity swimming team but left competitive swimming after sophomore year. He also played water polo. Zoltan withdrew from Yale in 1961 before senior year and accepted a job in Paris, France with Pan American Airlines.

From 1962 to 1965, Zoltan served in the U.S. Army in Germany as a Spec 4 where he was a journalist at the Army editorial office and a member of the Army water polo team. He competed for the U. S. Army as a member of the water polo team at the Conseil International du Sport Militaire Championship (CISM) in 1963 in Barcelona, Spain.

He met his first wife Ingrid in Germany where they married and after completing his Army service, they returned to the U.S. to Maryland, where his daughter Svenja was born in 1967. At this time Zoltan also completed his studies and earned his BA degree from the University of Maryland in 1967. Soon after, Zoltan and his family moved to Hamburg, Germany.

Zoltan returned to the US in the late 1970s. Making New York City his home, he pursued his passion for food and cooking – French and Mediterranean. With years of experience and exposure across a wide spectrum, Zoltan worked as executive chef, instructor, mentor, kitchen manager, front of the house manager and consultant in several establishments and venues.

Zoltan married his second wife, Susan, in 1994 in New York City. He continued swimming at Asphalt Green until 2010, enjoyed the ballet, travel and had a flair for learning languages –French, German and English. He was a “collector of soughts” as he would say of copper and vintage kitchen equipment, glass, porcelain, cook books and various ephemera.

Zoltan and Susan attended the gala dinner in Commons for the 100th Anniversary Celebration of Yale Swimming in 1998, the last known contact he had with Yale.

Zoltan died November 29, 2012, in Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City after a courageous fight for many years against heart disease and cancer. He is survived by his wife Susan of New York City; his daughter Svenja and two grandchildren, Janina and Bianca of Hamburg, Germany; and the Bary family in Budapest, Hungary including his brother Odon, Éva, Zsuzsa, Éva, Laci, Gábor and Ákos.

A Memorial Mass was held at St. Stephen of Hungary Church in New York City. In lieu of flowers Susan asked that donations in Zoltan’s memory be made to the American Heart Association. Susan thereafter arranged for Zoltan’s remains to be transferred to Budapest where, following a second service, he was interred in the same cemetery with his parents and deceased sister. His spirit was reunited in his native land with those he had left behind when he escaped to America in 1956.

Zoltan’s death was unknown to Yale until discovered by Ken Luke during his calling for our class of 1962’s 55th Reunion in May 2017.

Carl Vitez Ormandy sent a communication to their former swim coach in Hungary after learning of Zoltan’s death this summer, but no response has been received. I thank Susan Bary who wrote much of this tribute to her late husband. Alumni Records at Northfield Mt. Hermon graciously supplied information about his year at the school and Bob Boni and Bill McMaster also were helpful.

Robert G. Oliver




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