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Albert L. Renkey

1927 - 2018 Obituary Condolences
Albert L. Renkey Obituary
Albert Lajos Renkey, 91, of Mars, beloved husband and father, passed away Sunday, Dec. 2, 2018. Al's life embodied the goals of the American dream, outstanding accomplishment through hard work, a loving life companion and a cherished family. Al was born in Budapest, Hungary, Feb. 27, 1927, to Albert and Marica (Wagner) Renkey. Because his father was a military officer, Al spent his childhood in a number of locations in Hungary, and also attended military school. Just before the end of World War II, he and his fellow cadets, who had not even completed high school at the time, were conscripted and sent into the field. At the end of the war they fortunately found themselves behind American lines near the German-Austrian-Czech border and they surrendered to American soldiers. With the help of an American POW camp commander, Al was able to remain in Passau, Germany, rather than being forced to return to a Hungary that had fallen behind the Iron Curtain dominated by Russian Communists. After the war, Al attended the Passau branch of the University of Munich, and became a local soccer star, setting goal-scoring records and enabling his team to advance to a higher league. He had a knack for being at the right place at the right time and an ability to put almost any ball kicked in his direction into the goal. He was once awarded a trophy for scoring 50 goals with his head in a single season. During this time he met the love of his life, Ginger Zerinvary, who was also a Hungarian refugee living near Passau. They were married in June, 1949. Al and Ginger immigrated to the United States in 1950. After arriving in Pittsburgh, Al found his first full-time job with Harbison-Walker Refractories in 1951. He began work as a laborer, sweeping floors at H-W's Garber Research Center, but quickly began to rise through a series of technical and research positions. For a time, war again derailed his plans, with the start of the Korean Conflict. He was drafted into the Army, but based on his background, skills and familiarity with multiple languages, he was sent to Italy instead of Korea and served for two years as an intelligence specialist, debriefing refugees from behind the Iron Curtain. Upon his return to Pittsburgh, he resumed work for H-W while completing his formal education at night at the University of Pittsburgh. He had become interested in the field of refractories. His work at the Center was often groundbreaking; by the time he left the Center, he was responsible for more than 50 of H-W's patents. One of his most noteworthy achievements was the development of the materials used to line the launching pad for NASA's powerful Saturn V rocket. Based on his contribution to the effort, he was selected as the industry representative to attend the first Apollo mission space launch using the Saturn V. In 1971, Harbison-Walker/Dresser entered into a joint European venture with Thyssen & Krupp Steel Companies in Oberhausen, Germany. Al was appointed simultaneously to fill four of the venture's six top jobs, serving as the acting director of marketing, of technical sales, of research and of quality control. After living in Germany for six years and turning the joint venture into a multi-million dollar enterprise, he returned to the United States with his family to settle in Peter's Township. He was initially named the director of research at H-W's Garber Research Center, but within a year was again promoted to be the vice president of operations for H-W International, where he directed six joint-venture companies in South America, Germany and Australia. In 1996, Al was awarded the prestigious Albert Victor Bleininger Memorial Award for his lifetime accomplishments in the ceramic industry. At his retirement, Al was considered a leading expert in the refractories industry and he continued working as an industry consultant to several international clients. Al had many interests outside of work. He was generally regarded as a fierce competitor at every sport and activity he undertook. He remained an active soccer player into his 50s, and he and his circle of Hungarian friends would regularly be asked to play exhibition matches with local men's college teams. Those college teams often wondered how they were beaten so badly by a group of middle-aged men. He and Ginger loved playing tennis, and it was rare that they vacationed anywhere that was not close to a tennis court. Even into his 80s, Al's drop shot still frustrated his opponents. He was an excellent bridge player who regularly entered and dominated duplicate bridge matches. He loved coin and stamp collecting and was an accomplished investor, often making successful recommendations to family and friends. Al also enjoyed small-stakes gambling, typically winning $100-$200 from the house on his occasional trips through Las Vegas or the Bahamas. As he put it, he enjoyed making a bit of money to help pay for his vacation, but did not want to win enough to draw any attention. His biggest interest, however, was always his family. He was devoted to his wife of 69 years, who was always there for him and their three boys. He was proud of the success and accomplishments of his sons, for whom he had served as such a positive role model. He was even prouder of his grandchildren, who lovingly called him "Apu" or "Napu". Any conversation with Al would always include the latest events in his grandchildren's lives. In retirement, he and Ginger split their time between Pittsburgh, their treasured mountain home in a Hungarian community outside of Seven Springs, and Ft. Myers, Fla., hosting their many friends and family. Al was the oldest of four children; his siblings are Margit Heinzl (deceased), Marica Walter, of Clearwater, Fla., and Les Renkey (Barbra), of Lexington, Ky. He is survived by his wife of 69 years, Ginger, of Mars; three sons, Zuard (Mary), of Arlington, Va., Thomas (Jill), of Frederick, Md., and Andrew (Stacie), of Wexford; and seven grandchildren, Ryan, Meaghan, Christian, Connor, Emily, Sarah and Vivian.
Friends will be received from 2 to 4 and 6 to 8 p.m. Friday at SCHELLHAAS AND SONS FUNERAL HOME AND CREMATION SERVICES INC., 1600 Stone Mansion Drive, Sewickley, (Franklin Park / Wexford). Blessing service will be held at 11 a.m. Saturday in the funeral home.
Please offer condolences at www.schellhaasfh.com.
Published in Trib Total Media, online only on Dec. 4, 2018
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