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1920 - 2014 Obituary Condolences Gallery Flowers
MATOLTSY, Dr. Alexander Gedeon Gida 94, of Lexington and Mattapoisett, Massachusetts, died peacefully on June 16, 2014, at the Mount Auburn Hospital after a brief struggle with cancer. He was born in Kaposvar, Hungary, on February 29, 1920 to Sandor Matolcsy and Vilma Jamrich, and had two older sisters, Irene and Elizabeth. At the age of nine, his father built him a lab in their home. The young boy conducted many experiments with electricity, accidentally cutting off power to all of the homes on his street. It was the first of many times that his experiments would be widely noticed. Fifteen years later, he earned his PhD and MD at the age of twenty-four. He met Margit Nagy, a sharp-witted and strong-willed young scientist who was well suited for him. He served as an officer and surgeon during World War II. The couple reunited and were married after the war and soon left Hungary to escape communism. Seizing the opportunity to emigrate to Sweden, Dr. Matoltsy crossed frozen Lake Balaton in the dead of a winters night in 1947. In Stockholm he obtained a research post at the Karolinska Institute. Margit was able to join him later. She became his lifelong research partner, as well as his partner at home. A strong Calvinist, his belief in predestination guided his personal and professional life. His greatest regret came when the young couple learned that they could not have children. But Dr. Matoltsy believed that this was predestined, in order to free him to singularly focus on his greatest purpose in life: scientific research. Dr. Matoltsy came to the United States in 1949 and worked at Woods Hole studying muscle movement with Nobel Prize Winner Albert Szent-Györgyi. He then went to Massachusetts General Hospital, Harvard Medical School, and later the Rockefeller Institute and Miami University. Settling back in Boston, he and Margit worked together at the Dermatological Research Institute at Boston University Medical School, until his retirement in 1987. Based on the success of his research and his skill as a grant writer, he continually secured National Institutes of Health grants for his laboratories and staff. Margit often said, I work, but he doesnt. Hes always playing! The work was play; his research was his great pleasure. Dr. Matoltsy worked at the forefront of dermatology, most notably conducting a long series of pioneering studies on keratinization. His greatest honors were a 1981 Alexander von Humboldt Award and the 1984 Stephen Rothman award. He published 103 scientific papers, reviewed grant proposals for the NIH and had many other scientific accomplishments too numerous to mention. His contributions to medicine and science were significant, yet they were equaled by his deep sense of dignity, curiosity, humanity and generosity. Years after escaping Hungary, he helped many fellow Hungarian doctors, refugees from the 1956 revolution, with job placement and immigration issues. A painter, sculptor, clockmaker, jewelrymaker, and happy world traveler, he lectured in England, France, Holland, Denmark, Sweden, Italy, Hungary, Romania, Japan, Australia and the U.S., often collecting modern art throughout his travels over the decades. In 1970 he and his wife purchased a small plot of oceanside land in Mattapoisett, where they built a cottage and made their home every summer for decades. Dr. Matoltsy treasured his time there, the home a reflection of his measured calm, his joy for experience, and his delight in simple pleasures such as kite flying and watching the sun set over the water. He enjoyed one final day there in May before his death. Gida Matoltsy was his wifes caregiver as her health declined in the early 2000s, her rheumatoid arthritis limiting her mobility and causing significant pain. He tirelessly took care of her in those final years until she died in October 2005. A portion of the proceeds of his estate will go to a charitable foundation he created to help the elderly poor, a library, and a school in his hometown of Kaposvar, Hungary. Whenever something good happened to him, he always made a donation to Pine Street Inn, a homeless shelter in Boston, Massachusetts. He will be deeply missed by family in Hungary: nieces and nephews include Miklos, Vilma and Erszebet Kengyel; Ference and Agnes Brokes; and Gusztav Matolcsy. In the U.S. he will be missed by close family friends Ildiko Toth, Imre Toth, Erik Zoltan, and their families; Paul Toselli, Ildiko Nagy, Alexander Nagy and Tamas Balla. Funeral services will be held in Kaposvar, Hungary at the Calvinist Church, arranged by Dr. Matoltsys Hungarian family. In lieu of flowers, a donation to the Pine Street Inn would be appreciated: Pine Street Inn, 444 Harrison Ave, Boston, MA 02118. Douglass Funeral Home Lexington 781-862-1800
Published in The Boston Globe on June 27, 2014
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