MADISON – The incredible life story of 72-year-old George Attila Gathy — a man who escaped a country under communist rule, earned two engineering degrees, found love, started a family and became a dedicated grandfather — came to an end on Nov. 5, 2021 in Madison, Wisconsin.
Born on Jan. 11, 1949 in Budapest, Hungary, George lived through the Hungarian Revolution of 1956 as a child. At 21 years old, he planned to escape communism for a better life. Aided by friends and family along the way, his journey involved swimming part of the Adriatic Sea and seeking asylum in Switzerland before getting his green card in the United States. By 1972 he had settled in Madison, which would become his home of 49 years.
He couldn’t speak English when he met Marcy, but the two fell quickly for each other. (His incredible smile and great head of hair probably helped.) They married on a 100-degree day in 1975 and shared 46 years and three children — Sara, 44, Michael, 42, and David, 38. From children to adults, his kids loved him for the many roles he played: a soccer coach, a mac n’ cheese chef, a bike riding partner, a tour guide on trips back to Europe, a handyman, a lunch date, a great storyteller, a listening ear, a jokester, a political conversationalist, a friend and a caring father who always showed up.
George loved to learn; he finished his mechanical engineering degree in Hungary and earned an industrial engineering degree years later at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. He spent time at Zimbrick and Rayovac before starting at Oscar Mayer the morning after his wedding. He wore a suit and tie every day to work, serving in several roles at Oscar Mayer for more than four decades. He loved sailing, cars, Marcy’s meals, their dogs, meeting friends for coffee at Manna Cafe and traveling. Every neighbor and every acquaintance loved him.
But the absolute highlight and honor of George’s life was being a grandfather — Grampee — to Braden, 17, Emmalea (Emmi), 15 and Madelyn (Mady), 12.
While it was a cancer diagnosis that initiated a new chapter in 2010, it more importantly marked the beginning of a beautiful retirement he and Marcy enjoyed to the fullest for many years, taking the grandkids along for the ride. Countless trips in their RV, “Large Marge,” took them across the country — it was Grampee’s goal to get the kids to as many places as he could, and he did. They crossed off state after state, stopping at dozens of national parks, including Zion, Arches, Smoky Mountains and Glacier. Braden loved Canada, Mady remembers the Grand Tetons and Emmi especially liked the Arizona trip. The laughs, the meals, the cow at the window, the snake in Tennessee — the memories are plentiful and precious.
George’s life wasn’t always easy, especially when it came to battling health issues, but he didn’t take a second for granted. He was always laughing, always complimenting Marcy’s cooking, always helping fix the broken thing, always asking about your life, always eating (desserts, usually). He was fearless, funny, stubborn, strong-willed, kind and generous. He was genuine in his desire to know people, and he lit up whenever he saw his family.
The only regret might have been not having more time. Gáthy Gyurika, the fearless 21-year-old in search of a better life, created one he was so proud of. Among all his experiences and triumphs, it was his family that became his most important life’s work and greatest legacy.
George is survived by his wife, Marcy; his children, Sara Everson, Michael (Brandi) Gathy, and David Gathy; his grandchildren, Braden Everson, Emmalea (Emmi) Everson, and Madelyn (Mady) Everson; and many beloved members of his Hungarian family.
George was preceded in death by his grandparents, Béla Gathy and Erzsebet; his parents, Béla Gathy and Mathilde Farkas; and his aunt, Elisabeth G. Kaveggia.
A very special thanks to those who provided George with compassionate medical care, including Dr. Musa, Dr. Sanyal, Barb Loomis, the ICU staff at St. Mary’s and the oncology staff at SSM Health.
A celebration of George Gathy’s life will take place at a later date.
In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be gifted in George’s name to Gilda’s Club Madison. To view and sign this guestbook, please visit: www.ryanfuneralservice.com
Ryan Funeral Home & Cremation Services
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To send flowers to George's family, please visit our floral store.