Zoltan J. Tofalvy
Biography: Zoltan Joseph Tofalvy was born on April 27, 1916 in New York City, NY. He was the son of Joseph Tofalvy and Mary Ratzilhoffer and attended primary school in NYC and Secondary school in Massapeque. As a young man, he worked on farms and with the WPA (Work Projects Administration) on Long Island. He also worked as an auto-body repairman and mechanic in his father’s business.
Service Time: Zoltan entered the service on January 1, 1941 at Hempstead, NY. He was transferred into the 802nd and would continue with the unit ending up in Pilsen, Czechoslovakia after the war ended. It was there that he headed a Displaced Person’s Camp. He left the service as a Staff Sergeant.
Just a year after he joined the service, Zoltan married the former Lillian Opezzo on December 24, 1941. She was born in Marsteller, PA and was the daughter of Louis and Mary Regis Opezzo. The couple would have two daughters, Linda born in 1943 and Joy born in 1948. Zoltan worked at the Brooklyn Navy Yard and did construction work on Long Island. He also worked as a Weights and Measures, Inspector, for US Customs till his retirement in 1973. Zoltan then moved to Aurora, Missouri till 1992 when he moved to Riverton, Wyoming. In 2007, he moved to Friday Harbor, Washington.
His daughter Joy shared that he had spoken to her numerous times about the war, both as a child and as an adult . He was willing to share his experiences in the high school where she taught about the Great Depression and World War II. He continued to do this until he was 90 years old, but he never romanticized nor glorified war. Witnessing many of the battles on the front lines allowed him to see the horrors of war first-hand. He said many times that when you walk through a field of dead soldiers you didn’t think about what country they fought for, but that their mother, wife, or children were crying for that person. He said his proudest moments were when he was in charge of the Displaced Persons Camp. Zoltan was multi-lingual and felt it was rewarding to take care of these refugees of war. He felt no animosity towards anyone.
In his spare time, Zoltan enjoyed gardening and travel and was a Life Member of the Massapequa, NY Fire Department as well as a member of the American Legion, VFW and Sertoma International.
Zoltan is shown above left with an unknown little girl who befriended him at the Open House for the new assisted living facility, Village at the Harbour, in Friday Harbor, WA. He resided there from March 2008 through July 2010. The lower photo shows him celebrating his 93rd birthday with his family. Shown L to R is Les (Joy’s husband), his daughter Joy, Zoltan and his daughter Linda.
Zoltan passed away January 26, 2011 and was buried in Riverton, Wyoming. I want to thank Zoltan’s daughter Joy for providing this information and the photos of her dad.