The Association suffered a very serious loss with the untimely death of one of our Past-Presidents, Ivan Krisztinicz in June 2002. He and his wife, Irene (Baby) were so much part of the life of the HMAA in the past 25 years, that when one starts describing the reasons why we so acutely feel this loss, one describes the history of the Association in this period. Ivan was born in Miskolc, Hungary in 1932, son of a physician who served as “tisztiorvos” in the Hungarian Public Health system. After completing his schooling in Miskolc, he entered the Medical University of Debrecen and received his MD degree in 1956.

Upon graduation he got an appointment at the 2nd Internal Medicine Department of his Alma Mater, where he attained the rank of Assistant Professor before he left to continue his work in Internal Medicine within the health service system of the MAV, the Hungarian State Railroad. He and his future wife, a few years his junior in medical school, were married during the Debrecen years. In 1965 the family moved to Budapest and after several futile attempts to receive permission to travel abroad, finally succeeded in 1969 to leave the country with their young son Tom, ostensibly on a vacation to Switzerland. They never returned and were able to find sanctuary in Canada, in Toronto. After two years, they moved to Buffalo, NY that became the family’s permanent home. Ivan joined the staff of the Veterans Administration Hospital in Buffalo, a teaching hospital of the Medical School there and was appointed an Assistant Professor. Baby continued in her specialty of Radiology and built a thriving private office, distinguishing herself in mammography. Their son, Tom grew up to become a physician himself, an orthopedic surgeon.

A few years after settling in the US both Ivan and Baby became members of the Hungarian Medical Association of America in 1976. Their energy and enthusiasm for the programs and goals of the Association was soon noted and only a short time later they both were elected to serve on the Board. By then the Annual Scientific Meeting became one of the most important activities of the Association and in 1985 Ivan was asked to take over this responsibility. He proved to be an inspired choice and due to his untiring efforts and his close association with the Medical School and its leading personalities in Buffalo, the scientific quality of the meeting improved from year to year until it reached its present level of excellence. But the crowning achievement of his contribution to Hungarian medicine came after the mother country threw off the shackles of communist party dominance in 1989 and joined the free countries of the world. He was the driving force in organizing and maintaining a highly successful and much praised senior medical student exchange program between the four Hungarian Medical Universities and the State University of New York School of Medicine in Buffalo, which was later extended to the School of Medicine in Syracuse also. He maintained a virtual shuttle service between Hungary and the US during this time, organizing the program, negotiating with the many personalities in these Schools, laying down the principles of selecting the students and all the many details this type of complex undertaking implies. This achievement will live forever in the grateful memory of the many dozens of young Hungarian doctors, who were the beneficiaries of his work during their student years. He was a very forceful advocate of building bridges between expatriate Hungarian physicians in America, in Europe and elsewhere and the mother country. The fact that he became President of the Association in 1997 gave added weight to this effort. He concluded agreements of cooperation between the HMAA and the Semmelweis Society of Germany as well as the Hungarian Health Society (Magyar Egészségügyi Társaság). This latter Society elected him to their Board and honored him with their high award. That, unfortunately only reached him post-humously.

All this is just a sampling of the activities he and his wife exerted on behalf of the Association. During the 1990’s they worked tirelessly on programs that brought fame and recognition to the Hungarian Medical Association of America. He will always be remembered in the institutional memory of the Association as one of those who built the strong foundations today’s HMAA rests.

While we remember him for what he did for the Association, he was also a loving husband, a devoted father to his son, a doting grandfather to Nikki and Tomi and a very good friend for many of us. Those of us, who were fortunate to be his friends, enjoyed his company, his love of life, his stories from his travels and his cooking, since he was a gourmet cook. He lived a full life, sailing in the summer, skiing in the winter and this was cut short by his untimely death. God be with him.