Sunday, April 11, 2010

Julius “Juice” Pongracz, 77, of Lorain, leader in labor, politics and Hungarian affairs

The hard work and diligence of Julius “Juice” Pongracz, 77, of Lorain, Ohio, led to his being named "Man of the Year" by the Lorain County labor unions and the Lorain City Democratic Party and to his being honored as “Hungarian Man of the Year” by the local Hungarian community at the American Hungarian Council of Lorain County's annual “Nite in Budapest.”

Julius, who died of complications from renal cancer Thursday, August 13, 2009, retired as an expeditor in the rolling mills of U.S. Steel Corp.'s Lorain Works after 39 years of service.

He served as political action chairman for three different presidents of United Steelworkers Local 1104. He received labor relations training at Kenyon College and The Ohio State University and represented Lorain at many national conventions.

Julius also organized a trip to Washington, D.C., for community leaders, workers and families for the “Save American Industry & Jobs Day.”

He shared his Hungarian culture by participating in the Hungarian Council, Hungarian American Citizens Club and Spotlight Nationality Committees when the Hungarian community was recognized in 1972 and 1999.

Julius held many leadership positions with the Lorain Hungarian Reformed Church, including general chairman emeritus of the church consistory, president of the Men’s Brotherhood, member of the Sick Benefit Society, Chancel Choir, Koinonia Softball Team, and coach of the Men’s Basketball Team. He also took an active leadership role in the Calvin Synod of the United Church of Christ, serving on many committees and representing the bilingual churches at the National Conferences.

The lifelong Lorain resident and son of immigrants was born January 22, 1932, the eighth child of the late Antal and Pricilla (nee Kalassay) Pongracz. After graduating from Clearview High School in 1950, Julius served in the Army and was stationed in Alaska. Upon completion of his military service, he accepted employment at the Lorain National Tube where he continued to work in many different departments.

During his retirement years, the job of supportive father and grandfather became his top priority. He took great pride and joy in attending the concerts, scouting events, and sports activities of his daughters and grandchildren.

He was surrounded by his family when he died at Community Regional Medical Center.

Survivors include his wife of almost 54 years, Donna (nee Poirier); daughters, Jill Pongracz Murrell of Sheffield Lake, Ohio, and Susie (Larry) Fortner of Amherst, Ohio; grandchildren, Rebekka and Zach Murrell of Sheffield Lake, Sara Fortner of Arlington, Va., and William (Kelly) Fortner of Amherst; brother, Louis (Carol) Pongracz of Elyria, Ohio; sisters, Wilma (Joseph) Deliman of Lorain, Serena (Bennie) Molnar and Helen (Andrew) Dennis of Oberlin, Ohio; and many nieces and nephews.

His parents and siblings, William “Bill” Pongracz, Julia (John) Berki, and Agnes (Edward) Thompson all are deceased.

Family will receive friends from 3-8 p.m. Monday, August 17, 2009, with a prayer service conducted by the Rev. Peter Toth at 7 p.m. at Lorain Hungarian Reformed Church, 1691 East 31st Street, Lorain, OH 44055.

Friends also may call at the church from 10 a.m. until 11 a.m. funeral services Tuesday, August 18, 2009.

Internment will be at Ridge Hill Memorial Park in Amherst Township, Ohio.

Contributions may be made to the church.

Arrangements: Richard J. Reidy Funeral Home, 1783 East 31st Street, Lorain. Phone: (440) 277-8164.

This obituary originally was posted on on Aug. 15, 2009.

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