Gabor Erich Nemeth, 87, of Two Inlets, died Thursday, July 3, 2014 at Heritage Living Center in Park Rapids.
Gabor Nemeth was a talented and tenacious man. He survived terrible hardships and atrocities in both World War II and during the Soviet Occupation of Hungary. Despite those horrific experiences, he was a great dreamer with immense drive and energy to fulfill his dreams.
He arrived in 1956 to America from Hungary as a refugee of the Hungarian Soviet Occupation with just a small satchel, which contained a book of poems by Hungarian poet Endre Ady, a loaf of bread and a change of clothes-no money. Upon arrival in the refugee camp in New Jersey, he began to sell art to the military guards and camp employees by drawing portraits from photos of their girlfriends, wives and more bawdy drawings for the other men. Later he was hired by the Red Cross to design and paint their billboards and flyers.
Once his naturalization papers were filed and he and his wife, Edith, were free from the refugee camp, Gabor continued painting portraits and began painting landscapes and paintings in the style of Impressionism for more serious art lovers in the New York Area. He and his wife also started a silk screening business, where Gabor designed unique and colorful scarves for women to supplement their income.
Later he found employment with the International Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works. He then began to work for museums in the USA and in Europe. In the 1960s Gabor and his family moved to Los Angeles, Calif., where he was sought after by a wealthy Beverly Hills art collector, who hired Gabor as an expert in fine art for the purpose of buying Old Masters and as an expert art restorer to help in restoration and conservation of bought pieces.
In 1970, Gabor and his family moved to Two Inlets, to escape the hustle and bustle of Los Angeles. In addition to art, Gabor had a boundless passion for the woods and for heavy machinery. He bought a large acreage in Two Inlets, where he created a hobby farm and cleared paths through the woods with his beloved bulldozers and other machines.
Through Gabor's affiliations in the Fine Art world, he was able to broker a large and rare collection of "Old Masters" for the local Park Rapids museum at a remarkably low cost. The collection is made up of the works of students of Bosch, Rubens, Rembrandt, Titian and other representatives of the 16th- 17th Century Flemish and Dutch style painters of Europe. Gabor and his wife, Edith, made it a priority to bring the 40 paintings to Park Rapids in the 1970s, so that their new town of residence could begin an exciting and interesting art community. In 2011 the North Country Museum of Arts was renamed after Gabor and his wife and is now known as the Nemeth Art Center, NAC.
Gabor was a prolific artist, especially in his later years when he began focusing on Westerns. He felt a great affinity to the wild frontiers of America. He painted at least a thousand paintings in the last 23 years. He bought the old Ford dealership in Park Rapids to exhibit his works of Fine Art and to establish an art institute where artists could gather, exhibit their work and learn from one another, as in the European tradition of the atelier or salon.
Although Gabor did have an opening last summer, he soon fell ill and was unable to completely fulfill this dream.
Nevertheless, he accomplished much in his life, and in the world of art. Just a week before his death, he expressed that he'd like to buy the Schwarzwald Restaurant and create a place of fine dining and socializing and somehow tie it together with his gallery.
He never retired; it was not in his nature. He had many interests. When his children visited him during his convalescence he still talked of opera and his favorite tenor Beniamino Gigli, and he could still quote beloved French and Hungarian poets.
Although admitting in his last years that he should have remained a bachelor artist, for his fierce nature didn't lend itself to being much of a family man, he did have deep concern for his family members and sought the best medical care at the Mayo Clinic, during his wife's journey with cancer and he was extremely generous when it came to helping his daughter, Julia and his granddaughter, Zsofia, during their treatments for Lyme Disease. He worried and was concerned about his children and he expressed these feelings by caring for them financially. His wounds from the Second World War and from the Revolution ran deep, and sadly his secrets have passed along with him: Gabor Erich Nemeth has passed.
Many expressions could describe Gabor: he was a force to be reckoned with, he was one of a kind, he was larger than life, etc., etc. He seized his days with passion and he shall be missed.
Draga Apam, (Dear Father) Rest in peace.
He is survived by his sons, Gabriel Walter Nemeth of Park Rapids, Eric Anton Nemeth of Trang, Thailand; and his daughter, Julia Nemeth of Park Rapids; granddaughter, Zsofia Vicsabel Nemeth of Park Rapids.
He was preceded in death by his parents, Johan and Juliana Nemeth; wife, Edith Nemeth; brother, Karl Nemeth; and his mother-in-law, Juliana Zentai.
Funeral service: 2 p.m. Friday, July 11, at St. Mary's Catholic Church in Two Inlets.
Visitation: one hour prior to the service at the church on Friday.
Interment: St. Mary's Catholic Cemetery in Two Inlets. Friends may leave online condolences at ceasefuneralhome.com.
Arrangements are being handled by the Cease Family Funeral Home of Park Rapids.