On your feet, Magyar, the homeland calls!
The time is here, now or never!
Shall we be slaves or free?
This is the question, choose your answer!
From the National Poem of Hungary, by Sándor Petöfi
ONEONTA – Born at the start of World War II in a small rural settlement in eastern Hungary, József Kiss survived the front lines of German and Russian armies sleeping in an underground bunker at night with his family and neighbors.
Perhaps it is no wonder that he eventually become a Freedom Fighter in the 1956 Hungarian Revolution, bravely joining with others in their attempt to establish democracy. The little boy that pointed at planes flying overhead and told his mother he would one day fly to America somehow knew that he was destined to leave his homeland.
József worked hard all his life. Upon his arrival in the United States, he worked on a farm in New York State and began a family. He eventually established his own professional cleaning business and then moved into real estate development and property management as the owner of two mobile home parks in New York. He loved “playing in the dirt,” developing sites with his backhoe and bulldozer as he founded a community of tenants and maintained his property in pristine condition.
József greatly enjoyed the history, poetry, traditions and folklore of his native land, and he was a gifted storyteller. He loved to cut the rug with his wife, dancing the csárdás, polka and waltz.
We’ll miss our father and his good advice, which he always had ready for an open ear. Dad’s scratchy beard rubs with his children and later his grandchildren as well as the stories he told us so many times, we wish we could enjoy again.
József was predeceased by his wife of 64 years, Kathleen M. Kiss, by only five days. They could not be separated, even in death.
He is survived by one brother and other relatives in Hungary; and three daughters, two sons; five grandchildren; and five great-grandchildren in the U.S.
Funeral services and interment will be scheduled for this spring.
Arrangements are by the Bookhout Funeral Home, Oneonta.