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"POK" 2003 Obituary


POKOLY 

POKOLY o@ca.on.york_county.toronto.globe_and_mail 2003-05-15 published
Laszlo (Leslie) POKOLY
By James W. FLANNERY Thursday, May 15, 2003 - Page A26
Husband, father, minister. Born April 29, 1908, in Kolozsvar, Transylvania, Hungary. Died November 4, 2002, in Toronto, of natural causes, aged 94.
For many years, Laszlo POKOLY was a well-loved leader of the Hungarian community of Toronto, particularly for his heroic service to the thousands of refugees who came to Canada after the 1956 Hungarian Revolution. A minister of the United Church of Canada, he was also instrumental in creating the Metropolitan Toronto Interfaith Immigration Committee, an organization known for its work in building bridges among the various ethnic peoples who transformed the character of the city during this period. In recognition of his tireless devotion to helping others, Leslie POKOLY was made a member of the Order of Saint John.
The life of "Lacibaci," as his relatives called him, mirrored in many ways the tumultuous and tragic events of the 20th century. After he graduated from Debrecen University, one of the premier Protestant academic institutions in Central Europe, he began his professional career by serving as legal counsel for the Royal Postal System of Hungary. With the outbreak of the Second World War, Leslie POKOLY was conscripted as an officer in the Hungarian Army. A man who combined tremendous foresight with practical ingenuity, in the closing days of the war he led his company of soldiers and their families westward to surrender to the American rather than the Russian Army. He and his family then followed the precarious existence of refugees in Germany, but in 1948 his life took a cruel turn when his 34-year-old wife died suddenly of an aneurysm, leaving two young daughters in his care.
In 1950, the POKOLYs emigrated to Canada to begin a new life. Scarcely knowing a word of English, Lacibaci at first found work shovelling snow and as a house painter in Hamilton. Within six months, however, he was enrolled as a minister in training at United College, Winnipeg. Ordained to the ministry in 1954 he served several Hungarian communities in Manitoba and Saskatchewan until, just prior to the '56 Revolution, he was called to Toronto.
As the pastor of the Hungarian congregation at the Church of all Nations, his enlightened spirit reached out to embrace people of all religious faiths.
Liberal as he was in the exercise of his beliefs, Lacibaci was a man who lived according to a strict code of honour. By Hungarian law he was required to bring up his daughters in the Catholic faith of their mother. In Canada, even after he had become a United Church minister, he continued to oversee the Catholic instruction of his daughters. When Enik was about to be married in the Catholic Church, Lacibaci became greatly annoyed because the parish priest refused to allow him to play an official role in the service. "If that is the case," said Lacibaci, "then my daughter will be married by the Cardinal!" And so she was.
Laszlo POKOLY was a man of the cloth with his feet firmly planted in the realities of the world. Clear in his principles, his strategies and his allegiance to the many causes he espoused, his wry sense of humour made him a delightful companion and eased the pressure of many difficult situations.
For the last 10 years of his life, Lacibaci lived in a nursing home, primarily because he wished to be close to his second wife, Margit, who died of Alzheimer's Disease in 1998. Although he suffered from a variety of afflictions, no one heard a word of complaint. "All things considered, it could be worse," was his mantra.
Devoted to his native Hungary, his adopted country Canada, his church, his city and his family, now all of us are the worse for his loss, but strengthened by the example of his dedicated life.
James is son-in-law to Laszlo POKOLY.

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