r. John Szablya was Professor Emeritus of Washington State University, Affiliate Professor of the University of Washington, Fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, External Member of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences, Member of the Árpád Academy and Árpád Gold Medallist, Full Member of the Sigma Xi Scientific Research Society and Active (Professional) Member of the American Translators Association. He was Vice President and Consulting Engineer with Szablya Consultants, Inc., an international trade consulting, engineering and translation corporation he co-founded with his wife, Helen.
Born in Budapest, Hungary, he was the only child of János Szablya and Alexandra Huszár. His father was a distinguished industrialist, organizer and collector of Hungarian industrial and folk art; his mother an artist and feminist. In 1939, he traveled with his parents to the Eastern United States, where his father brought the Hungarian Exhibition to the New York Worlds Faira collection of Hungarian industrial arts.
Dr. Szablya completed all his formal education in Hungary. University studies provided a means to avoid Nazi conscription. With the help of his parents, he was "hidden in plain sight." He held degrees in Electrical-Mechanical Engineering, Education and a Ph.D. in Economics.
Post-war Soviet oppression made Dr. Szablya a fervent anti-Communist. He believed in personal liberty and in cultural diversity before it had a name. He had faith in individual enlightenment and he rejected collectivism as darkness. His career combined science, education, and consulting to the end of his life.
In 1951, he wed Helen M. Bartha-Kovács. Throughout their life, a devoted partnership of equals developed. They were dedicated to their seven children, their spouses, the sixteen grandchildren, each other, and to freedom. Prolific writers, both are widely published.
In the fall of 1956, after the Soviets crushed hope, ending the Hungarian Revolution, John and Helen Szablya left Hungary with three small children.
While in Vienna the family helped the Sopron Forestry University resettle from Hungary to Vancouver BC, Canada. John and Helen served as interpreters and translators during all the negotiations, helping solve medical, marital, birth, and other problems day and night, for several months, and then in the following years, because they spoke English, while the others did not. Dr. Szablya joined the faculty of the Department of Electrical Engineering at The University of British Columbia.
In 1963 he accepted a faculty position at Washington State University (WSU), where he became a (full) professor of electrical engineering in 1965. He became a U.S. citizen in 1979.
In 1981 EBASCO, a large private engineering firm, invited him to join its newly opened Seattle Office. He retired as the Manager of the Electrical, Instrumentation and Control Department in 1990.
Dr. Szablya was involved in developing electric power throughout Western North America. He and his wife mentored students and student families; they gave personal and financial support to political refugees even when it took food off their table.
The Szablya family was named HUNGARIAN FAMILY OF THE YEAR by the Cleveland based Hungarian Congress in 1981.
During his scientific career Dr. Szablya developed, among others, a general theory for electromechanical energy conversion processes and did fundamental studies on non-linear electromagnetic forces. He was member of the first group of faculty conducting environmental studies at WSU while developing the first course in the discipline. Dr. Szablya developed a course in Energy Management and Planning at WSU and taught it for many years. Dr. Szablya was visiting professor at the Technical University of Braunschweig in Germany, The University of the West Indies in Trinidad and at Seattle University. He lectured widely on the subject of energy and its relation to culture. He was a Registered Professional Engineer in seven States and two Canadian Provinces. He published more than 140 scientific and engineering papers. He is listed in Marquis Who's Who in America and several other biographies.
Dr. Szablya considered his family his great contribution to the world. He is survived by his wife Helen, Consul of the Republic of Hungary, Past President of the Washington Press Association, their seven children, their spouses and sixteen grandchildren.
Former students have established the
Dr. John and Helen Szablya Power Engineering Scholarship Fund
In lieu of flowers or other tributes, the family prefers, contributions be made to the scholarship fund established by his students:
c/o Washington State University Foundation
PO Box 641925, Pullman, WA, 99164-1925.