Andras ‘Andy’ Szalanczy, 74, never forgot his Hungarian heritage and humble beginnings

Andras 'Andy' Szalanczy
Andras ‘Andy’ Szalanczy

HAMPSTEAD — Andras ‘Andy’ Szalanczy, 74, formerly of Cleveland, Ohio, passed away peacefully Friday, Jan. 20, 2018, due to lung cancer, with his wife, Kay, by his side. Born Feb. 6, 1943, in Ungvar, Hungary, Andras grew up in Komaro, a small town in northeast Hungary

Andras was preceded in death by his mother, Dalma Tomcsany; father, Emil Szalanczy; and stepmother, Csilla Fekete Szalanczy (Elyria, Ohio). Surviving family members left to cherish Andras’ memory are his wife of almost 25 years, Sandra Kay Ward Szalanczy of Hampstead, N.C.; sister and brother-in-law, Ronald and Ann W. Bullard; niece, Daneille, and her husband, Scott Cooke; great-nieces, Anna and Alexa Cooke; and nephew, Keith, and his wife, Lauren Bullard.

When Andy was growing up as a boy, Hungary was occupied by the Russians. It would be 1989 before Hungary would become a democracy. Andy went to Budapest for his high school and college education. And, in 1966, he procured a rail pass to visit fictitious relatives in then communist Yugoslavia making his way to the Bay of Trieste. Once there, under cover of darkness, he set out swimming for over four hours toward Italy. He had five little bags tied to his neck with a straight razor for shaving, a little suit that was homemade and his mother’s picture under glass. Unknowing to Andy at the time and by the grace of God, there was a concrete border wall that extended out into the bay that could not be seen from where he began swimming.

Suffering from hypothermia, he threw himself on steps coming down from the wall into the water. After a long while, dressed in his swimming trunks, Andy stood up and tapped the guard on the shoulder, who was carrying a rifle, not knowing if the guard would be an Italian or Yugoslav. He was relieved to hear Italian. From there, he lived in a refugee camp outside Rome for six months before coming to Cleveland, Ohio, and meeting his father for the first time since he was three years old.

His father lived in Elyria. Although Andras spoke no English, he was hired by Harshaw Chemical Company and within three years he had his first of several patents. Harshaw relocated to Solon, Ohio, and later was bought out by a French company, Bicron Division of St. Gobain. Andras worked in research and development and was instrumental in designing the TLD reader for dosimetry. His work in the field of dosimetry took him to work on projects for the government and travel to Germany working with PTW. He retired from there after 30 years of service. Andras loved this country, the USA and the opportunities he was given. He became a proud U.S. citizen.

After retiring, Andy, and his wife, Kay, purchased a business in Brecksville, Ohio, The Framer’s Gallery, in 1998. Kay, with a Southern accent and Andy with a European accent, together, as a team, they were very successful. They were often asked how they met. It is a great love story left for another time. In 2014, they sold their art and framing business and moved to Hampstead, N.C., to retire and build their new home.

An avid fly fisherman, Andras was a very special man, husband and friend to all those he would meet during his life’s journey. A kind and beautiful soul, he never forgot his Hungarian heritage and humble beginnings. It was an honor to be Andras Szalanczy’s wife, partner and best friend in all things. Shared memories/condolences via email to

A visitation will be held from 2 to 4 p.m., Wednesday, Jan. 24, at Andrews Hampstead Chapel.

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