Remembering a wonderful member of our Museum: Steve Szappanos

Steve Emeric (István Imre) Szappanos was an integral part of our Museum! He passed away at age 93 on December 12, 2022. To understand how much we all will miss him, we have provided an extensive list of all his contributions to our Museum. To say that he cared for this cultural institution would be an understatement! He invested an incredible amount of time, talent and energy to help us get to the level of excellence that we enjoy today. Thank you so much “Pista Bá” for your years of service!!

It seems almost an impossibility to accomplish all the tasks that Steve undertook over 22 years on behalf of our Museum! He shared with me a list of all the projects he completed, and we are all in awe-what one man’s energy can accomplish is truly amazing! We share his contributions to the Museum below:

  • Steve Szappanos served three 3 year terms as vice president and one 3 year term as president, serving in these positions from 1997-2009, and thereafter was an active and respected Board member from 2009-2019.
  • In 1997, Steve set up the first computer system for the museum by obtaining three donated computers.
  • In 1997, he set up the mailing list/address collection in a computer program (AddressBook) by harvesting names and data from guest book entries and other sources for over 2000 names. This program allowed for categorizing (selecting, filtering) for targeted mailings or listings, as well as recording pertinent facts, such as membership and donations, Vintner Dinner attendance, etc. This program was used for the next 20 years for addressing all mailed material, invitations, etc.
  • While president, he spearheaded with Maria Friedrich the Col. Michael Kováts project, which culminated in commissioning a Hungarian sculptor to make a downsized replica of the Kováts statue at the Hungarian Embassy in Washington DC., and delivering it to Karcag, Hungary for their Annual Kováts Festival, and attending its dedication in 2004 along with Maria Friedrich and Margaret Kotnik
  • Steve served on the Vintner Dinner Committee for many years, being responsible for designing, printing of invitations and program booklets, attendee and donor lists, and table name-cards. He organized the mailing of invitations. He kept EXCEL spreadsheet records of attendees and donors, and final income/expense accounting, as well as handling the bookkeeping for all guests and donors, and banking of ticket fees and donations.
  • For years he handled the bookkeeping (in EXCEL) and banking of monies of the Gift Shop operation, preparing reports of monthly sales and incomes.
  • To aid in creating a database for the Museum’s library, he set up the ACCESS database program and cataloged with Zoltán Bocsay about 2000 titles. This program is still used by the Librarian to enter new book donations.
  • He assembled albums of all photographs depicting museum events from 1997- 2010 and then handed over this task to Vali Rátoni-Nagy.
  • He drew up design plans, and prepared construction blueprints for the renovation of the present museum space, as we moved from the Galleria upper level to the lower level, supervising the work of contractor during renovation work.
  • Over the years, Steve collected and transferred a mass of photographs onto the Museum computer including material on Museum exhibits, fundraising, Vintner Dinners, and useful symbols and designs.
  • In the museum computer he also collected and filed in an organized manner all documentation, reports, minutes, artwork, designs regarding the Vintner Dinner, Gift Shop, Library, history of the Museum, membership, official papers and documents, programs/presentations, utilities and all technical issues, up to 2018.
  • While president, he commissioned Márta Pereszlényi to design our official letterhead. For years thereafter, he made sure it was updated with revisions as officers and board members changed.
  • While president, he formed an ad-hoc committee to update our Bylaws with all the revisions and addendums, and issued a comprehensive final copy.
  • Steve prepared a short and long version of the Museum’s history in English and Hungarian and collected data for the written chronological history of the museum, subsequently handingthis task over to our historian, Vali Rátoni-Nagy.
  • Steve drafted our Mission Statement in English and Hungarian.
  • Continuing what Elmer Mészáros started during his presidency, he collected pertinent official papers and documents of the Museum and placed them into a hard cover binder (affectionately called the Red Book) and copies were distributed to the president, secretary, museum curator, gift shop, and historian.
  • Because he was an engineer with an engineer’s mind, Steve monitored all our utility bills. He saved the Museum money by correcting any billing errors. With László Zala, they made a study of electricity consumption by the Museum (heating and lighting) within our space in the Galleria resulting in significant reductions in cost.
  • With the help of Otto Friedrich,they repaired a broken A/C system at the Museum’s Euclid Mall location, saving a significant repair cost.
  • To help with how the Museum spaces were used, he prepared computer generated floor plans for all locations of the museum, facilitating the arrangement of exhibits and library furniture.
  • A detail orientated man, he maintained a list of all the technical equipment owned and operated by the Museum (computers, printers, microphones and speakers, etc.), and kept them service ready, and in line with this task, he wrote a comprehensive and detailed setup procedure for the various new audio-visual equipment.
  • When the Museum had a printed newsletter, he oversaw the digitizing of all back copies of the REVIEW, with the help of the Museum’s Kőrösi Csoma Sándor Intern. This material too is stored on the Museum computer
  • As an outreach to our community, when asked, Steve did translations for various friends and members of the Museum.



One Response to Remembering a wonderful member of our Museum: Steve Szappanos

  1. Susan Szappanos January 13, 2023 at 2:35 pm #

    It really blows my mind how and when he accomplished all this. On top of all that he was avidly involved with his grandchildren and the family in general, never missing a gathering or visit, loving to travel of which we had done quite a bit. One activity not interfering with others, always had time for everyone including me. As I regularly got stuck on the computer being totally nontechnical, no matter how busy he was, he always put me first. Always. He thoroughly enjoyed life and made the most of it even when he was gravely ill. Could write book about him I just might!

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