Dr. Maria Vajda Hajdu (nee Mercs), 99, passed away on Good Friday, March 30, 2018, at The Arbors in Shelburne, Vt.
She was born to Imre and Gizella (nee Juhasz) Mercs on Aug. 13, 1918 in Szeged, Hungary.
After graduation from the Hungarian equivalent of high school (gimnázium), she received a college degree in business. Several years later she enrolled in law school and received her Juris Doctorate in 1951 from the University of Szeged.
Maria married Mihaly Vajda (predeceased) in 1940, in Szeged, Hungary, and then Dr. Daniel (“Dani”) Hajdu (predeceased) on Dec. 28,1960 in Budapest, Hungary.
She lived a life that was filled with good fortune and great accomplishment, but also with great hardship – and even extreme trauma – experiencing, as a young girl, and then as a young woman, the uncertainties of a ravaged post-WWI Europe, the tragedies and atrocities of WWII, the political tyranny and insanity of communism/socialism after the war – a system that confiscated, without any compensation, all of her parents’ substantial property, and a system that forced her to denounce her husband, Mihaly, the father of her children, and to officially divorce him in absentia in 1951.
Having been forced to fight as a member of the Hungarian Army on the side of Nazi Germany, then becoming a POW of the American Armed Forces, Mihaly would have been harshly treated by the conquering Soviets had he returned to Hungary. After his release from the POW camp, he spent a few years in Germany, and then was able to immigrate to the United States, establishing residency in New York City. Since Maria thus had a husband in America, the Soviet system black-listed her, not allowing her to do any kind of meaningful work, and thus preventing her from supporting her children and her parents, unless that American connection was severed by divorce.
After the Soviets brutally crushed the 1956 Hungarian Revolution, Maria made an extremely difficult, selfless, decision: to get her children out of Hungary, to the United States, to Mihaly, and thereby to provide them with life opportunities that they would be denied under Communist rule. She and Dani succeeded in that difficult (and extremely expensive) task, and thus endowed her son and daughter with the precious gift of having the opportunity to prosper in America. Maria became a U.S. citizen in 2005 and permanently moved from Budapest to Shelburne after Dani’s passing in 2009.
She is survived by her son, Arpad Vajda, of Essex Junction; her daughter, Csilla (Dr. Nicholas) Patrin of Shelburne; granddaughters Dr. Edith Vajda of Honolulu, Hawaii, Kinga Vajda of Austin, Texas; grandsons Edward (Alicia) Buturla of West Linn, Ore., Attila (Grethel) Buturla of San Diego, Calif.; great-granddaughters Allison Buturla, Arya Buturla and great-grandson Aaron Buturla, as well as an extended family that includes Lara Hamann, Natalie Williams, Christine Dornbierer, Dr. Eric Patrin, and their families.
A memorial service will be held on Friday, April 6, at 10:30 a.m. at St. Catherine of Siena Parish, 72 Church St., Shelburne. In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to this parish.