A tribute and farewell to Lajos Szaleczky
As a close friend and colleague, it is with a heavy heart that I start writing these lines. We knew that Lajos Szaleczky, who had been born on September 19, 1923 in Érendréd, on the territory of today’s Romania, near the birthplace of the great Hungarian poet Endre Ady, had been struggling with a severe disease for more than a year.
The formidable disease finally defeated him, and in the 89th year of his life, on April 13, 2012, the irrevocable thing happened. Lajos Szaleczky departed this life.
I would like to commemorate his path of life in a few sentences. Lajos Szaleczky obtained his general certificate of education in the Wesselényi College of the Reformed Church in Zilah in the year 1943. Subsequently he commenced his higher-level studies at the University College of Agriculture in Kolozsvár.
After the horrors of the Second World War and spending some time in captivity as a prisoner of war, he completed his university studies at the University of Agriculture in Keszthely in 1947.
His first workplace was the Agricultural Council of the region between the rivers Danube and Tisza in Kecskemét, the legal successor of the Agricultural Chamber, where he started his professional career as a junior clerk.
In the years 1950 and 1951, Lajos Szaleczky worked at the Experimental Model Farm of Kecskemét. Owing to his diligence, he was soon promoted to Deputy Director (Chief Agronomist) of the Experimental Model Farm of Kecskemét, where he was responsible for the general technical direction of the farm’s operation between 1951 and 1956.
In the year 1956 and 1957, he worked at the Ministry of Agriculture as a section head responsible for animal breeding.
From the year 1957, he became the Department Head of the Production Directorate of Experimental and Model Farms within the Ministry of Agriculture.
From 1961, he continued his professional career at the Inspectorate of State Farms of the Ministry of Agriculture, and between 1967 and 1985 he held a high position in the National Center of State Farms.
Lajos Szaleczky maintained his activity even after his retirement in 1985.
He spent nearly 4.5 decades working in the ‘family’ of state farms, and his activity was mainly focused on animal breeding.
In the experimental and model farms his responsibilities included the organization and direction of animal breeding.
At the early 1960s, while working at the Inspectorate of State Farms of the Ministry of Agriculture, Lajos Szaleczky was assigned the task of developing the modern, large-scale system of poultry meat and egg production (Bábolna, Bóly).
He attended numerous international conferences both in Europe and all over the world. Lajos Szaleczky had an outstanding role in the establishment of the specialized large-scale poultry farms as well as in familiarizing people with meat- and layer-type poultry hybrids and gaining recognition for them.
At the end of the 1960s, he was given an important task in the reformation of Hungarian cattle breeding. He was actively involved in the implementation of the Holstein program and in establishing the technical and technological bases of modern cattle breeding.
He played an important role in developing cattle breeding, reproductive, management-technological, operational and nutritional methods for dairy cattle farms.
He took part in the adaptation, utilization, dissemination and nationwide propagation of the Holstein breed in Hungary.
During his 35-year employment by the state farms, he took part in study tours, attended conferences and participated in business negotiations in 20 European and overseas countries on a total of 72 occasions.
He established connections with representatives of the world’s most advanced poultry and cattle breeding companies and organizations.
His tasks included the selection and purchase (importation) of nearly 15,000 virgin and pregnant heifers from the United States of America, Canada and several European countries.
Lajos Szaleczky attended the World Holstein Conferences on several occasions, and he initiated and organized the First International Holstein Conference and Symposium held in Hungary in 1983.
He also played an active role in the organization of the 8th World Holstein Friesian Conference that took place in Hungary in 1992.
Lajos Szaleczky took an active part in the establishment of the US-Hungarian joint venture Holstein Genetika Ltd. As Chairman of the Supervisory Board, he made significant contributions to the Company’s successful work from the very outset, i.e. the time when the venture was launched in March 1990.
Over the years, Lajos Szaleczky received several governmental honors as well as scientific and international awards. His outstanding professional achievements were acknowledged by the decorations ‘Eminent Worker of Agriculture’, ‘Order of Labor’ and ‘Újhelyi Commemorative Medal’.
In the United States, he won the award ‘International Person of the Year’ in 1989. This award, hallmarked by the signature of George Bush, Sr. on the diploma, was perhaps Lajos Szaleczky’s greatest pride. Very few European and Hungarian specialists received this distinction in the past decades.
Lajos Szaleczky received a Golden Diploma from the Pannon University of Agriculture in Keszthely. He made his mark as the author and editor of various publications. He was the editor of the magazine entitled Holstein Breeding over a period of 15 years. He was editor of the book ‘The Holstein Breed in Hungary’ and author of the technical film entitled ‘Hungarian Animal Breeding’.
Throughout his life, Lajos Szaleczky’s work was always characterized by his striving for perfection and his commitment to quality and to the case of international integration.
With his role played in the adaptation and propagation of the Holstein breed in Hungary, he gained imperishable distinctions for himself both in the practice of animal breeding and in scientific circles.
Gödöll?, June 11, 2012