Katalin (Kopunovics) Szántó was born on December 15, 1930 in Subotica (Szabadka), former Yugoslavia to Geza Kopunovics and Terez (Valasek) Kopunovics. She was gathered into the arms of our Lord Jesus Christ on May 19, 2023 in Victoria, TX.
Katalin’s mother passed away when she was only 6 years old, from tuberculosis, and she and her younger brother Mihály-Miska (Michael) were left without motherly care. As their father Geza married Ilonka (Soros) Kopunovics, the family grew by another son, István-Pista (Stephen) and daughter Margit.
Katalin grew up sorely missing her mother, comforted, and taught by her grandmother, and her aunts. Her dream was to be an actress, cosmetologist, or beautician, but her father chose her path for her. She completed her training as a professional women’s seamstress through trade school in Subotica, and through her apprenticeship with the renowned Erzsébet Vajda.
She was a member of the Hungarian Amateur Theater in Subotica. It was in this period of her life that she met her beloved, Imre Szántó (at that time, a professional glass blower and medical instrument manufacturer), at Magyar Nepkor (Hungarian Circle), and married him at the age of 19 on July 2, 1949. They were poor but very happy.
As Imre’s company restructured, in 1950 he was called away to work in Zagreb, the capital of Croatia, for the company called “Instrumentaria”. Katalin joined him as soon as it was possible, and in Zagreb they lived some of their happiest years, as a young couple, exploring the beautiful city, enjoying their activities with the Hungarian circle, and a large group of friends. First, they rented a room from a Hungarian friend, and later found their own apartment on Nad Lipom street (Linden street). In 1954 Imre Szántó, Jr. was born. Katalin had chosen his name as a child before she had any idea her husband would bear the same name.
Imre struggled with asthma as a child, and then at the age of 8 survived a near fatal fall from a roof, which left him without a spleen.
Katalin worked for “Instrumentaria” for a while, working on the production line of medical instruments, especially syringes. She also worked for a clothing manufacturing company, working often from home, especially when young Imre developed health problems.
As active members of the Lutheran Church in Zagreb, Imre started his studies of theology, and in 1965 was called and ordained to be pastor of the Lutheran Church in Legrad, Croatia, a call which he happily accepted because it was a small Hungarian congregation.
In December of 1966, Ildikó was born, and the family continued living the life of a pastor’s family. Katalin taught Sunday school and was authorized to preach on Sundays when Imre would serve in a second parish. She organized Christmas programs and single handedly sewed costumes and practiced the plays with the children. She was her husband’s secretary and translated for him when that was needed. Being a seamstress, she also organized sewing classes for the women of Legrad, and often sewed for women. Katalin worked in Sweden for three months, babysitting a Hungarian pastor’s children, and during that time sorely missed her own family. Upon her return to Legrad, she tried her hand at being the DJ at the local radio station for a while.
Katalin had a green thumb, and while living in the small rural village of Legrad, learned to grow a large garden at the parsonage, complete with close to 50 fruit trees and numerous flower beds. She froze and canned all the fruit and vegetables for the family and raised chickens.
Katalin inherited an enormous amount of ingenuity from her father, and she was a great problem solver and fixer. She was never afraid of hard work. She was also a gourmet cook, and always enjoyed trying out new recipes and dazzled the many pastor guests and their families with the best food to eat. Her baking was also outstanding. Not only did she delight her family with delicious “from scratch” desserts, but very often parents of couples who wanted to get married, asked her to bake wedding cakes.
After her beloved husband, Imre passed away during their visit to Ildikó and Carlos in 2001, she sold all her belongings and moved to the United States in 2003, a dream that she and Imre had when they were a young couple.
She lived in Gonzales and Victoria, and enjoyed helping raise Anna, her youngest granddaughter. She particularly enjoyed being a part of the Lutheran congregational life, and accompanying Ildikó to her pastoral meetings, Deaneries, assemblies, and conferences, where most people knew her as “Mom”.
Katalin was a fiercely loving, but strict mother to Imre and Ildikó and she loved and treated her grandchildren with the same kind of love. Loving, but strict. Imre and his wife, Éva, who lived in Vienna, Austria gave her three beautiful grandchildren, Attila, Csongor and Noémi. Attila and Susanne gave her the only great grandchild, Aurelia (3), whom she knew from pictures and videos.
Katalin has one regret, that she was not able to get to know the people of Trinity Lutheran Church very well, but she deeply felt the love and prayers during her illness.
She was preceded in death by her beloved husband Imre, her parents, both brothers, son Imre, and many aunts and uncles, and cousins. She is survived by her daughter Ildikó and her husband Carlos Rigney, daughter-in-law Éva Szántó, grandchildren Attila (and wife Susanne) Santo-Rieder, Csongor Szántó, Noémi Szántó and Anna Rigney, great-granddaughter Aurelia, sister Margit Kuzek, sister-in-law Magda Kopunovics, and many beloved nieces, nephews, and friends.
She will be dearly missed, but we know that she has joined her loved ones and her ancestors in God’s heavenly home, through the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, to whom be thanks, glory, and praise.
The family will receive friends from 12:30 pm to 2 pm Saturday, May 27. 2023 in Trinity Lutheran Church. Funeral services will be held at 2 pm Saturday, May 27, 2023 in Trinity Lutheran Church with Rev. Herb Beyer officiating. Interment will follow in the Hochheim Prairie Hermann Sons Cemetery. Pallbearers: Elgin Heinemeyer, Paul Watkins, Darrell Haug, Steve Pirkle, Larry Clark, and Steve Zimmerman. Memorials may be made to Trinity Lutheran Church or Hospice of South Texas. Friends may leave their condolences to the family by visiting www.seydlerhill funeralhome.com. Services are under the care and direction of Seydler-Hill Funeral Home.