Rev. Dr. Stephen T. Szilagyi


Stephen Szilagyi, 85, was received, with open arms, by his Lord and Savior on Friday, May 10, 2019. He fought hard to the end with his family at his side.

He was born Istvan Szilagyi in Ungvar/Uzhghord, Transcarpathia, Ukraine, formerly known as Czechoslovakia, the son of the Rev. Dr. Miklos Tibor and Erzsebet (nee Gebej) Szilagyi.

A lifelong learner he thrived on education and received many degrees over his lifetime. Stephen received his M.A. in Philology in 1956 from St. Andrews Collee, Innsbruck, Austria. He attended Princeton (New Jersey) Theological Seminary and Oberlin (Ohio) Graduate School of Theology. In addition, he received his Bachelor of Divinity in 1972 from the Evangelical Congregational School of Theology in Myerstown, Pennsylvania and his Doctor of Divinity in 1996 from the International Christian University in Kinshasa, Zaire. Stephen was fluent in many languages including, English, Hungarian, Russian, German, Ukrainian, Slovak, Polish and Czech.

He served honorably in the United States Army as a Russian Interpreter in Berlin, Germany and for the U.S. Department of State. His career as a minister took him many to many churches, including, assistant minister, Community Church Mountain Lakes, NJ; pastor, Immanuel UCC, Bromley, KY; Philippus UCC, Cincinnati, OH; UCC, Greenville, OH; First UCC, Millvale/Pittsburgh, PA; First Hungarian Reformed Church and Hungarian Presbyterian Church, Cleveland, OH, prior to and at the time of the merger; Bishop, Christ Hungarian Reformed Church; and the First Congregational UCC, Conneaut, Ohio, where he retired and served as Pastor Emeritus.

Along with serving in the pulpit of many churches, he was an instructor of Russian at the University of Kentucky; served as Vice President of Marketing for William Penn Association, a Hungarian Fraternal Insurance Company in Pittsburgh, PA; national motivational speaker with Program Associates, "What's Right with America?" in Utica, NY.

Rev. Szilagyi was the Founder and Executive Director of SARA, Sharing American Resources Abroad, an ecumenical medical mission of the Ohio Conference of the United Church of Christ. In 2009 he authored the book "From Habakkuk to SARA," of which his life was the subject, and which detailed the beginning of SARA and examples of how this organization grew to an international Christian mission.

Stephen's passion was helping others, and he was such a great communicator and facilitated conjoined efforts for many organizations. He was the co-founder, Hope Cottage, a home for neglected and abandoned children in Northern Kentucky; member of E.T. Carson F & AM Lodge #598 in Cincinnati, OH; served as Captain and Chaplain of the Great Lakes Region Civil Air Patrol; Chaplain of the American Legion, Department of Ohio; President of the American Hungarian Society, Cincinnati, OH; public relations director, "Talents, Inc.," promoting increased utilization of the disabled; coordinator "The Cathedral Hour," WCKY Council of Christian Communions of Greater Cincinnati; delegate, White House Council on Aging; member and vice-chairman, "US Citizens Committee"; featured guest, "How We Are Deceived" WCPO-TV, recorded as a film for presentation, Cincinnati Board of Education, discussing monetary and social systems in Communist Countries; Vice-President Exposition America, promoting Americanism and Patriotism; co-chairman, Citizens' Education Committee, Greenville, OH; moderator, "Religion and Life," WDRK, Greenville, OH; member, Citizens' Advisory Committee, Board of Education, Greenville, OH; President, Fraternal Societies, Greater Pittsburgh; member, William Penn Association; member, Hungarian Reformed Federation of America; White House (Carter Administration) Conference On Aging, Ethnic Coordinator, Council of Fraternal Societies; Power of Attorney from Ministry of Ukraine of Emergencies and Affairs of Population Protection from the Consequences of Chernobyl Catastrophe; member, City of Conneaut Planning Commission; International Radio and Television Reporter, Nationalities Television, Cleveland, OH; and a proud member of the American Legion Cowle Post #151, Conneaut, OH.

In his lifetime he was bestowed many honors including, Honorary Kentucky Colonel; Americanism Medal, Daughter's of American Revolution; Visiting Preacher, The White House on Mother's Day in 1970 (later published by the Reader's Digest, White House Sermons); Honorary Senator, Pecs (Hungary) University; Member, Batyan Benevolent Society, Hungary; Community Service Award, Grand Lodge of the Ohio F & AM; Honorary Member, Knights of Columbus, Conneaut; Pastor Emeritus, First Congregational United Church of Christ, Conneaut, OH; Official Presentation of Recognition and Appreciation from The President and Minister of Health, Transcarpathia, Ukraine; Commendation from The Most Reverend Csaba Ternyak, Archbishop Secretary, Congregation for the Clergy, Vatican City; Official Recognition and Presentation of a Presidential Award for Humanitarian Services to the people of Ukraine, by the President Yuschenko, Kiev, Ukraine.

Stephen is survived by his beloved wife, Jean (nee MacKenzie) Szilagyi, whom he married on October 3, 1962 in Pennington, New Jersey; together they raised three wonderful children, George (Valleria) Szilagyi, D.M.D., Nathalie (Gregory Sullivan) Szilagyi, M.D. and Michael Szilagyi; grandchildren, Sara Elizabeth, Oliver Stephen, David, Eliza Jean, Mary Phoebe, James Stephen and Eamon Michael; and his sisters, Marica and Marta.

He was preceded in death by his parents; a brother, Gabor; and a sister, Nathalia.

Calling hours will be held, Friday, May 17, 2019 from 2-4 and 6-8 at the Thompson-Smith-Nesbitt Funeral Home, 345 Main St., Conneaut, where funeral services will be held Saturday, May 18, 2019 at 11:00AM. Burial will follow at Center Cemetery, where American Legion Cowle Post #151 will honor their departed comrade.

Memorials in memory of Rev. Dr. Stephen T. Szilagyi may be given to SARA, PO BOX 147, Wapakoneta, Ohio, 45895 or the Fisher House Pittsburgh Foundation, University Dr., Building #33, Pittsburg, PA, 15240

Online obituary and condolences at
Published on May 12, 2019
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11 posts

Linda and Greg Schindler
May 14, 2019
I remember when both Reverend and Jean came to the Hungarian Reform Church. Thou I was just a little girl he made a great impression on me. I remember babysitting with my mother Irene Waszil, George and Natalie. Jean our thoughts and prayers are with you and your family. Love Linda
Andrew Tajgiszer and Janet
May 14, 2019
God be with you till we meet again
Gwynneth and philip Pekar Sargeant
May 14, 2019
Time passes by so quickly memories stay with us forever. We remember the good times in Hungary and the children's home in the Ukraine. The love that surrounded both Steve and Jeannie, you will be sadly missed Steve. Jean our home will ways be open for a visit from you and the family.
gary and gail trump
May 14, 2019
Greenville, Ohio in the seventies. A young energetic pastor came to our church and made quite an impression on our church and community. We sort of kept track of each other. for a while. His obit does not due him all the good things he did he and for the rest of his career. I know he is smiling in heaven. To Jeanne and all the family we express our most sincere condolences. he will be greatly missed by all. LOVE TO YOU ALL gary and gail
Maribeth Miltner
May 13, 2019
Special prayers to Jeanne and family during this time. How excited Stephen must have been to receive the hugs from his Lord!!! I can't imagine the emotions you are feeling but hope that knowing his legacy remains will help you now. Stephen touched so many lives and Jeanne you were beside him all the way. Much love and continued prayers as we try to say goodbye for now. Love you.
Wendy Truman
May 13, 2019
I’m so sorry for your loss and wish to send my condolences to you and the entire family. I really loved our trip over to Hungary and Ukraine.
David Schwab
May 13, 2019
I enjoyed the Sara ministry and the opportunity to go to the Ukraine several times. Thanks for translating my sermons. Blessings to Jeanne and family.
János and Barbara Dancs May 13th 2019
May 13, 2019
Our dear friend will be missed by so many people, he did such a great deal of work in many countries for the needy, such a great talent for knowing what was needed. Along with his lovely wife Jeannie they accomplished such a great deal. May you rest easy, and may Jeannie find some comfort in knowing that she is loved
Steven & Ruth Gure
May 13, 2019
We have lost a dear, beloved friend of many years and wish to express our deep sorrow. The world is far worse today than when Steve was alive. It will be a lone time before anyone can take his place. His wife Jeannie is an icon in her own right and has our deep gratitude for all she has done for him.
Carolyn and Richard Otterness
May 13, 2019
Our hearts are with all of you during this time of sorrow and joy. We so enjoyed meeting you in Hungary. Your work, dedication, and live for others has been a real inspiration to so many people. We give thanks to the Lord for a life well lived, and that now he can rest in the all loving arms of the triune God. Peace be with all of you, especially to Jean and George (since you are the people we know!). Remember Steve with joy and love. Love, cCarolyn and Dick
Shar Antritt
May 12, 2019
I am so very sorry to hear of your loss. May God grant you and your family peace and strength in the days ahead. You are in my thoughts and prayers. Love, Shar