Laszlo Heday

Born in Dorog, Hungary on June 7, 1937

Departed on June 9, 2020 and resided in Nashville, Tennessee

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Survived by devoted and loving wife of 58 years, Mary Ann Heday; daughter Mary Elizabeth “Csopi” Arrington (Rick) and son, Anthony Scott Heday (49). Grandchildren Elizabeth Lee “Ellee” Evans (24) (Samuel) and Jackson Heday Arrington (20). Sister, Balint Erzsebed.

Preceded in death by parents, Antal and Erzsebet Hedai; brothers – Antal, Ferenc, Bela, Jozsef and sisters – Erzsebet, Gizella.

The fifth of Antal and Erzsebet Hedai’s seven children, Laszlo was born in Dorog, Hungary – a small town 24 miles northwest of Budapest. Just six years old when the Nazi’s occupied his Hungarian homeland, Laszlo lived through the helplessness and massacre of 550,000 Hungarian Jews. The Nazis confiscated radios, established curfews and occupied local housing – utilizing the locals as cooks, cleaners and laborers. Laszlo would tell of walking with his brothers on a battlefield where wounded and dying soldiers begged for water. The Hungarians were “liberated” from German rule in December 1944 when Soviet troops rolled in. The Russians maintained a dominant presence in Hungary through 1990.

With only limited ‘elementary-level’ schooling during Laszlo’s formative World War II years (2,000 Hungarian schools were heavily damaged during the war – losing books, facilities and faculty) – Laszlo thirsted for any available educational opportunities. Coming out of the war, peasant and worker children attended school only through the eighth grade. In 1950s Hungary, education above the elementary level was generally only available to the country’s social elite. In secondary and higher-level schools, only five percent of the students came from worker or peasant families. Only students from peasant groups scoring highest on stringent assessment testing were admitted. Laszlo attended secondary school at an academy in the town of Ezstergom. Under the Russian influence, technical and vocational training were stressed. Mediocrity was unacceptable.

Beginning as a student protest in October 1956, the Hungarian Revolution was a revolt against Soviet-imposed policies. After some initial patriotic successes, the Russians ended this revolution - invading Budapest and other key Hungarian regions in November, killing 2,500 Magyars against 700 Soviet casualties. Two-hundred thousand refugees fled their Hungarian homeland – including 19-year-old Laszlo. Under the cover of darkness, a group of eight from Dorog bribed a Hungarian border guard and slipped away into Austria before securing a harrowing trip on a rickety cargo flight out of Europe to Greenland – eventually landing in Camp Kilmer, New Jersey with 30,000 other Hungarian refugees.

With assistance from Catholic Charities, Laszlo joined a group of Hungarians in their move to Nashville in 1957. Settling in East Nashville, Laszlo secured employment with Kerrigan Iron Works, Inc. as a draftsman despite speaking limited English. By 1960, Laszlo moved to Nashville Bridge Co. for two years before transitioning to Volunteer Structures for a five-year stint. In March of 1967, Laszlo accepted a position as draftsman at start-up Stan Lindsey & Associates. He would retire as Vice President of Operations in 2009 after a career including oversight of the structural engineering on projects including the Opryland Hotel, Knoxville’s World’s Fair Sunsphere and the towers at One Seagrove Place on 30-A.

Laszlo married Mary Ann Proctor in June 1962 at Belmont Baptist Church. They raised their two children in their riverside home in Charlotte Park.

A mid-state soccer pioneer, Laszlo’s Hungarian crew brought organized soccer to Nashville. As the player-coach for the semi-professional Nashville Internationals (1962-1970), Laszlo recruited an all-immigrant team and toured the southeast to find competition in major cities and army bases. During that span, the Internationals played home games at Centennial Park, Caper Avenue at Vanderbilt, Elmington Park and 100 Oaks. Also actively involved in the start of youth soccer in the Nashville area, Laszlo coached the Brentwood Reds (1977-1987) for the first 10 seasons of the Williamson County Soccer Association. Laszlo also refereed Nashville-area high school soccer for 10-plus seasons. Laszlo’s Nashville soccer contemporaries included his best friend Otto Toth, Jose Fernandez and Zoltan Bokor.

The family will receive friends from 1-5 p.m. Wednesday and from 9-10 a.m. Thursday at Harpeth Hills Funeral Home. A celebration of life funeral service will be held at 10 a.m. Thursday, June 11, 2020 at Harpeth Hills Funeral Home with Brother James Dean officiating. Interment will follow in the garden of Gethsemane of Harpeth Hills Memory Gardens.
Pall-Bearers --- Rick Arrington, Jack Arrington, Otto Toth, John Toth, and Steve Toth.

11 Comments to Laszlo Heday

  1. Donna Gosnell
    June 9, 2020 9:06 pm

    I have many memories and loved seeing the love between Mary Ann and Laszlo. He had such a great full of life personality.

  2. Rhonda Scott
    June 9, 2020 9:24 pm

    Chippy, I have never met your Father but from what I read, he was a wonderful man. So sorry for your loss and my prayers go out to you and your family.

  3. Stacy Juckett Chesnutt
    June 10, 2020 6:24 am

    This is the most beautiful obituary. It is a wonderful history lesson of the times he lived in but more impressively it finds a way briefly to explain just what a significant impact he had on those that knew him but on many others who may not have known him. Thank you for this.

    • Joni Campbell
      June 13, 2020 3:53 am

      Agreed, Stacy. Very well done, and I learned a lot too. The block will miss his presence, but he won’t be forgotten. Our sincerest condolences to you, MaryAnn, Chippy, Scotty and your Mom. 58 years of marriage, and I recall so much laughter! What an incredible accomplishment. Our hearts are with you all. Love, Joni

  4. Debbie Gleason
    June 10, 2020 9:10 am

    Your Dad has a wonderful story! Thank you for sharing it. What a proud legacy!

    June 10, 2020 3:41 pm

    I first met Laszlo when I worked at Volunteer Structures in 1975. He ended up being my boss for 11 years (1988-1999) at Stanley D. Lindsey and Associates. We always talked on a regular basis as I was either detailing or fabricating a project that he had worked on. He was one of the smartest people I have ever been around and he taught me so much over the years. I loved sitting and listening to his stories of growing up in Hungary. I can’t even imagine the sights that he must have seen during the war. You will be missed Laszlo, Rest in peace my friend.

  6. Billie Sue
    June 11, 2020 10:27 am

    Sending hugs and prayers during this difficult time. Laszlo will be missed by all.

    Love to all,

    David Hunt and Billie Sue

  7. Steve Hamvas
    June 13, 2020 6:12 pm

    I work for Stanley D. Lindsey and Associates in the Atlanta office. Laszlo worked in the Nashville office, so I only met Laszlo a few times. However, I feel a very special connection to Laszlo. Laszlo’s life story is very similar to that of my father. My father was also born in the small town of Dorog, Hungary. My father and almost everyone living in Dorog in 1944 had to stay at home for 3 months because the front line had stalled out in Dorog as the Germans and Russians fought each other. Laszlo attended secondary school in the town of Ezstergom, which is my mother’s birthplace. Like Laszlo, my father took the technical and vocational route to become a precision machinist for a major optical company that built cameras for the space industry.

    Like Laszlo, my father, with my mother, crossed the Hungarian border into Austria under gunfire from the border guards. I recently asked my mother whether she ever regretted leaving Hungary and she answered “no, I never looked back, only forward.” I asked how long did you consider leaving before you made the decision to leave and she said “we just decided we would leave that evening one afternoon in Dorog.” When my mother told her parents she was leaving, they did not take her seriously. It was ten years before she was able to see her parents again. My father did not want to leave his home country. His mother actually convinced him to leave because the Soviets were taking young men to Siberia to work in camps.

    Like Laszlo, my father and mother landed in Camp Kilmer, New Jersey. With only knowing a few words in English, they were put on a train, given one dollar, a brown bag lunch, and were told to get off the train when they hear the conductor say “Boston.” My parents were very fortunate to have been sponsored by church members who took them in their homes in Cambridge for a few weeks until they were able to find work and an apartment.

  8. Jim & Glenda Simmons
    June 15, 2020 11:23 am

    Thank you so much for sharing all the pictures. It brought back so many memories. He had such a great personality, he was funny and he was kind. My brother-in-law [Otto Toth] played soccer with Laszlo. They worked, ate and played soccer.
    Our children and my five nephews all prayed soccer from 4th grade thru high school and continued to play until they got 2 old.. Our youngest son not only worked for Laszlo, Our son and daughter played soccer until about age 25-30. Laszlo was always there and at the beginning we went over to Vanderbilt and watched Laszlo and friends play soccer. Laszlo has been in our life for over fifty years. He will always been remember especially his hat and cigar. Laszlo and his wife [Mary Ann] are wonderful, friendly and kind people. We will miss Laszlo and may he rest in peace.

    Our Love, Peace and Prayers, .
    Jim & Glenda Simmons

  9. John Muir
    June 25, 2020 4:05 pm

    Sorry for your loss. Please read Isaiah 25:8 for comfort.

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