Miklós Gellai, longtime resident of Devon, PA, passed away peacefully on May 6, 2020. He was born in Hungary in 1930 into a farming family, the last of twelve children. He tended geese and pigs and cows on the farm, his future seemingly tied to the soil.
But Fate intervened and at age 11 sent him to the priests to become a missionary. A decade later, World War II was ravaging Europe. He was sent to dig trenches along the border – again his future collapsed into the hard earth he was forced to turn.
Again Fate came to the rescue, earning him a slot as officer-in-training in the Army. Once more the future looked bright, a career in hand, plans for marriage. He gladly took command of the group assigned to him. They hoped for a change, a better future for their homeland.
But then his commander ordered him to shoot the revolutionaries, his fellow countrymen. He refused without a thought to consequences. His choice, in order to survive, was to flee his homeland. He emigrated to the United States and was given a home with an American couple.
He built a life with a wonderful woman, Enikö, whom he married in 1960, and their two children, Andrew and Gloria. He found a passion in science. Science became his career, as he worked his way from a role as an assistant in a medical research laboratory at the University of Michigan, to a researcher at Dartmouth College’s medical school, and finally leading his own laboratory as a physiologist at SmithKline Beecham (GlaxoSmithKline, today), in the Philadelphia suburbs.
He grew a beautiful family and was a vibrant grandfather to his four grandchildren. He cultivated a lush garden in his backyard, taught his grandchildren to fish for the sun, and made the backyard cherry tree magical as piggyback rides were enjoyed through the cascading petals.
He was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease, a horrible illness which took his memories.
His legacy lives on in his wife of 60 years, Enikö; his children, Andrew (Dorothy) and Gloria; his grandchildren, Nikki (Jeff), Kelsey, Paul, and Matthew; and his great grandson, Silas; as well as his extended family, including many nieces and nephews, and his contributions to the field of physiology.
Ad astra – to the stars.
Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, a service will not be held. If you would like to donate in his memory, gifts can be made to Cure Alzheimer’s Fund (curealz.org).