Laszlo Czapary (1916-2004)

Laszlo Czapary (1916-2004)

Laszlo Czapary, Our Nagypapa

Nagypapa was born in October, 1916, during the last years of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, not far from the capital, Vienna. His mother and aunts nurtured a life long love of reading and learning during his formative years in the small town of Koszeg.

As a teenager, Nagypapa travelled halfway across Hungary to attend the 4. Cserkész Világdzsembori (4th World Scout Jamboree) in the Royal Forest of Gödöllö from August 2 -13, 1933.

He recounted this event to his sons as life-changing. To truly appreciate this life-changing event this excerpt from describes what he experienced:

“Countries and territories with contingents of Scouts present included Hungary, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland, the Irish Free State, England, Jamaica, Trinidad, Switzerland, Sweden, Armenia, the Netherlands, Poland, Finland, Czechoslovakia, Estonia, Australia, New Zealand, British Guiana, Canada, Newfoundland, Ceylon, South Africa, Austria, Romania, Norway, Portugal, Siam, Spain, Haiti, Greece, France, Gibraltar, India, Philippines, United States, Bulgaria, Liechtenstein, Belgium, Syria, Denmark, Iceland, Egypt, Iran, Japan, Malta, Palestine, Rhodesia, the Duchy of Luxemburg, and Russian Emigrant Scouts.[6] They lived in ten sub-camps. The overall encampment was serviced by its own post office, ambulance station, hospital, a steam railroad and station, an electric local streetcar line with four stations,[7] radio service, 14 km water supply with 9 wells and an air-service.[8]

    The Jamboree daily paper, Magyar Cserkész, was printed in Hungarian, English, French and German, with contributions in other languages. Every foreign group at the Jamboree was assigned a "cousin"—a Hungarian Scout who spoke their language and served as translator and guide.[5] They wore on their right arm a white band displaying two interlocked hands embroidered in red. Over their shirt pocket they wore an embroidered patch stating their language specialty, for example, Parle Francais, Spricht Deutsch or Speaks English.[9]””

The life-changing out come from attending this Scout Jamboree, as Nagypapa stated, was his realization that just speaking Hungarian and German were insufficient to communicate. He must learn English. Indeed, while at the Jamboree he sought out and was tutored in English by a Jesuit priest. He continued his English language studies once he returned to Koszeg.

In his farewell address to the Scouts, Robert Baden-Powell, the founder of Scouting, referred to the symbol of the Hungarian people, the White Stag of Hungary: 

“Each one of you wears the badge of the White Stag of Hungary. I want you to treasure that badge when you go from here and to remember that, like the Golden Arrow, it also has its message and its meaning for you.

    The Hungarian hunters of old pursued the miraculous Stag, not because they expected to kill it, but because it led them on in the joy of the chase to new trails and fresh adventures, and so to capture happiness. You may look on that White Stag as the pure spirit of Scouting, springing forward and upward, ever leading you onward and upward to leap over difficulties, to face new adventures in your active pursuit of the higher aims of Scouting—aims which bring you happiness.

    These aims are to do your duty wholeheartedly to God, to your country, and to your fellow man by carrying out the Scout Law. In that way you will, each one of you, help to bring about God's kingdom upon earth—the reign of peace and goodwill.

Therefore, before leaving you, I ask you Scouts this question—Will you do your best to make friendship with others and peace in the world?”

— From Baden-Powell's farewell speech[5] [10]

A few years later World War II engulfed Europe and Nagypapa was in the Hungarian military. His formal education in accounting, but especially his language training, proved to invaluable. As the war neared its end, his ability to speak English opened a path to ensure that he and Nagymama, and he assisted others, were successful in navigating the “no man’s land” to the safety of the military forces of the United States of America.

He was able to find work with the U.S. military until he and his family emigrated to the U.S.A. in 1957.

Nagypapa often reminded his sons, that the world is full of changes and chances you cannot control and you can loose everything or everything can be taken from you. But, no one can take away your education.