Istvan Szalaji

Obituary of Istvan Joseph Szalaji

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Istvan (“Steve”) Joseph Szalaji was called to his eternal home on Thursday morning, September 2, 2021. He was born on February 14, 1936 in Bilje, Yugoslavia; the son of the late Joseph and Maria Szalai. Steve’s tremendous strength, courage and remarkable resolve served him to escape, on foot, communist rule of his home country in 1957, join the United States Army from an outpost in Germany, and serve his adopted country from 1958 to 1963. His extraordinary soccer skills landed Steve a spot on the US Army All Star Team, traveling the world as their most valuable defender. He became a proud citizen of the United States in 1963. While serving in Germany, he met the love of his life, Vera. They married in Vera’s home town of Schweinfurt in 1965, together moved to New York, and eventually settled in Poughkeepsie. Western Publishing, Nabisco, and Transkrit never had a better machinist. And the Town of Poughkeepsie never had a more passionate and committed boys soccer coach. For Steve, food was love. His place in his home kitchen and at the food pantry he so generously served will be missed and forever remembered. Steve met all people with compassion, generosity and warmth, always sharing whatever he had with those in need. Passion is also what he had for the game of golf. Steve was surely walking all 18 at McCann any day of the week. Steve was a member of Reach Out Church in Hyde Park where his love for God and the world would shine. In addition to his wife Vera, Steve is survived by his sons; Andrew and wife Lisa of Boston, MA and Michael of Cambridge, MA. Also surviving is his brother, Janos Salai of Boca Raton, FL, as well as his sisters Margita Cacanovic and Lidia Teleki of Serbia, and Sarolta Tischmacher of Germany, along with many nieces and nephews. He was predeceased by his sister Ilonka and brother Danilo. There will be a Graveside Service at 11:30 am at Poughkeepsie Rural Cemetery, Tuesday September 7, 2021. If you would like to leave an online condolence please visit the Timothy P. Doyle Funeral Home website at If you plan to attend the service, please wear a mask and follow social distance guidelines. In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made in Steve’s memory through Reach Out for Christ Church: If people prefer they can mail a check to Reach Out Church, 241 Crum Elbow Road, Hyde Park NY 12538. NOTE- please put in memo, “in memory of Steve Szalaji”.

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Graveside Services

11:30 am
Tuesday, September 7, 2021
Poughkeepsie Rural Cemetery
342 South Ave
Poughkeepsie, New York, United States