January 7, 1926 – March 7, 2018
Stefan Mayer passed away at the Southern Tennessee Regional Health System hospital in Pulaski, TN on March 7, 2018, at the age of 92.
Stefan was born in Budapest, Hungary in 1926. He was raised in a close-knit family with three brothers. As a teenager, he became a successful professional boxer, winning many bouts in his weight class.
During World War II, at age 18, he enlisted as an aviation cadet in the Hungarian Air Force and fought in the Battle of Budapest, one of the most brutal sieges of World War II. After the Russian capture of the city in February 1945, Stefan witnessed many of the atrocities perpetrated by the million-man Russian Army on the surviving residents of the city. He was one of 500,000 Hungarians captured during the war to provide forced labor in Soviet prison camps. Despite the risk of being shot on sight, Stefan organized a courageous escape for a small number of prisoners during their march to Russia and led them safely through the Hungarian countryside into Austria. He later entered Germany clandestinely on the top of a railroad car. Because of his boxing skills, Stefan worked as a professional boxer until he was able to secure a position as a painter apprentice, studying both in school and for a Master Painter to obtain his professional painter’s license. While in Germany he met and married Hannelore Reisser and they had a son, Rudi.
In 1955 he moved his family to Canada, and in 1958 they relocated to Chicago where he worked as a professional painter. Stefan and Hannelore became U.S. citizens while living in Chicago, and in 2012 they moved to Pulaski to be closer to their son and daughter-in-law.
Stefan loved music, especially Hungarian and German folk music. He was a great dancer, loved to sing and had a beautiful voice. He had a wonderful sense of humor and was completely devoted to his family.
Stefan is survived by his wife of 69 years, Hannelore, their son, Rudi, and his wife, Betty, two step grandchildren, Jonathan Ford and Kathryn Mills, two step great-grandchildren, Anna and Jack Ford, and two brothers, Jakob and Rudi Mayer of Budapest.
Stefan was greatly loved and will be sorely missed.
- Graveside Services Tuesday, March 13, 2018