A Memorial Service: the Reverend Imre Bertalan, Sr.
September 6, 2008 Memorial Service for Reverend Dr. Imre Bertalan in Washington
The Reverend Dr. Imre Bertalan, past president and chairman of the American Hungarian Federation, died July 10, 2008 at Schenectady, New York, from complications of cancer, at age 90. At the time of his death, he was the pastor of the Hungarian Reformed Church of Washington, D.C. A memorial service will be held at 11:00 AM on Saturday, September 6th, in the Wesley Theological Seminary Chapel, 4500 Massachusetts Ave., NW, Washington, DC.
Dr. Bertalan was born in Nyirtass, Hungary, in 1918 and studied at Sarospatak Seminary. During the Second World War, he completed postgraduate studies in Halle, Germany and in Basel, Zurich, and Geneva, Switzerland. In 1946 he arrived in the United States and continued his education at Princeton Theological Seminary. Dr. Bertalan received honorary doctoral degrees from the University of Debrecen and Hope College, in Holland, Michigan.
Rev. Bertalan led the Hungarian Reformed Church of Washington, D.C. for over 25 years. He and his wife, Margaret, also served a number of Hungarian Reformed congregations in the 1947-1980 period, in Manville, N. J., Staten Island, N.Y, Passaic, N.J. and New Brunswick, N.J. In 1980 Rev. Bertalan was elected President of the Hungarian Reformed Federation of America (HRFA) and he and his wife moved to the Washington, D.C. area, where he continued to live. Dr. Bertalan served the Federation as President until 1992. Mrs. Bertalan died in 1991.
In addition to serving the HRFA, Dr. Bertalan was active in American Hungarian public life. He served in leadership positions in the American Hungarian Federation, the Hungarian American Coalition, the Hungarian Scout Federation, the International Hungarian Federation. In the 1970’s, Rev. Bertalan was named as an American delegate to the Helsinki Accord Conference in Madrid, by President Jimmy Carter. He assisted Hungarian students studying in the United States, and helped expand a scholarship program for Hungarian students at Wesley Theological Seminary for post-graduate studies. The Hungarian government honored him with an “Officer’s Cross” award in the 1990’s.
Dr. Bertalan is survived by his son, the Rev. Imre A. Bertalan (Magdalene J. Ujvagi) and daughters, Lillian Bertalan (Dr. Michael DePetrillo) and M. Sarah Bertalan. Survivors include nine grandchildren, along with many relatives in Hungary.
The family requests that, in lieu of flowers, friends consider a gift to the Endowment Fund, Bethlen Communities, 125 Kalassay Dr., Ligonier, PA 15658.
[Read More] about Rev. Bertalan on his AHF Memorial Page
AHF's Eulogy Address: Words of Remembrance Memorial Service for Rev. Dr. Imre Bertalan [download]
While Rev. Bertalan was concerned with the fate of Hungarians in the Carpathian Basin, he deeply cared about the well being of our community – a community that has relied on its own resources to survive. Therefore beyond his enormous contribution to his flock and church, Rev. Bertalan was committed to preserving and strengthening traditional Hungarian American institutions and organizations – organizations such as the scouts and the Hungarian Reformed Federation of America. This helps to explain why Rev. Bertalan also had a special place in his heart for the American Hungarian Federation – an organization with a rich history of serving our community for over one hundred years.
Most of you probably know that for decades he served as an active officer and director of the Federation and its Washington, D.C. chapter. And when the Federation was afflicted with internal dissension in the late 1980’s, he tirelessly strove to calm the disputing parties.
Realizing that healing would take a little time but that the community urgently needed a voice in Washington as the tumultuous and historic events unfolded in Central and Eastern Europe, Rev. Bertalan helped found another organization – the Hungarian American Coalition.
But he never forgot the American Hungarian Federation. On the contrary, when calm was restored, he focused like a laser on rebuilding that time-honored organization into the strong and outspoken voice that characterizes the Federation today.
We will truly miss Rev. Bertalan’s wise counsel, steady leadership, selfless service bereft of any agendas other than service itself, and unfailing commitment to the American Hungarian Federation and to its noble goals and purposes.
Isten veled Imre Bátyánk!
ifj. Koszorus Ferenc
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