Dr. Steve Luczek, who was a long time member of the HMAA, passed away on November 10, 2011 at his home in Solon, Ohio. Steve had fought pancreatic cancer for several months. In the summer of 2011, many friends and family members from the U.S., Canada and Hungary came to say goodbye to Steve who was cared for in his home where a hospital room was set up for him overlooking “Lake Luczek”. His pain was controlled by himself and the 24-hour nursing staff.
Steve was born in Babócsa, Hungary, son of Ferenc Luczek, a railroad employee, and Mária Putics. His high school principal was a fanatic communist. He considered us four friends, “parasites”, who did not belong in his school or deserve an education. A week before graduation, he asked us to report to his office. He told us that without his signature, none of us would be admitted to college. Steve said he wanted to go to medical school. The principal answered, trying to quote the poet Attila József, “As long as I have my memory, you will never be a physician on the face of the world.”
Steve applied and was accepted to the medical school at the Catholic University of Leuven, Belgium. Steve was a tireless worker; not only did he study for long hours, he helped many of us. Steve was President of the Hungarian Student’s Association.
In 1961, we finished our studies and emigrated to the U.S. Steve graduated magna cum laude. He did his internship in Canton, Ohio and his residency at the Toronto General Hospital. He always wanted to be an OB/GYN. Philomena (Phyllis) Ianuzzi, became a Geriatric Psychiatrist and after they married in 1964, both practiced in their specialties in Cleveland, Ohio. Steve was a tireless worker at Bedford and other hospitals delivering babies. His reputation spread among patients throughout Northeastern Ohio and two generations of families sought him out. In Steve’s eulogy, his colleagues noted that Dr. Luczeck delivered between three and four hundred babies a year at Bedford and when he retired, patients stopped coming. Within a year, the maternity ward was closed. At Steve’s funeral service, ten speakers from friends to physicians to families whose children he delivered said good bye and praised his professionalism, kindness and never ceasing smile.
He was a yearly participant at the HMAA Meetings in Sarasota, Florida to which he hauled one of his boats. Dr. Luczek had a favorite saying, “I must avenge communism by becoming a millionaire in the U.S.” Through shrewd investments he succeeded to do just that.
The last time we went fishing, we talked about end of life issues. He knew the end of life was not far off for him. I quoted the poet Gyula Illyés: “You take with you what you left behind.” What he could take with him were all the memories of family, friends, patients and the thousands of babies he delivered. What he contributed to others would go with him.
In the spring, Steve’s ashes will be spread over his lake from his favorite boat. We should remember that he was a good friend, a good American-Hungarian and most of all a great physician. Farewell my friend until we meet again.