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Laszlo Szijj

Beloved father, grandfather, 40-year Cal Poly Pomona professor

Beloved father and grandfather Laszlo Szijj died October 3 at the age of 88.

Laszlo was born in Budapest, Hungary on February 16, 1932. He developed an interest in the natural world from an early age, and along with his brother Josef, pursued a career in academia. 

As a child he endured the devastation of World War II and later Soviet occupation of his native country. He and his brother fled to Austria in 1956 following the Soviet crackdown on the national uprising.

He eventually emigrated to Canada, where he completed his PhD in biology at the University of Toronto. He accepted a position at Cal Poly, Pomona in 1963 and moved to Claremont with his wife Janet, where he stayed the rest of his life.

Mr. Szijj enjoyed a 40-year career as a professor in the Biological Sciences Department at Cal Poly. He loved teaching and inspiring his students, and made many great friends among his pupils and colleagues. His primary interest was in ornithology, but he also taught biogeography, animal behavior and zoology.

He and his colleagues at Cal Poly developed unique, multi-disciplinary courses that included field studies in Arizona, Mexico, Venezuela and Costa Rica. He was always at home in the field and the deep appreciation of nature he developed during his childhood in Hungary carried through his entire life. 

After retiring from Cal Poly he continued to travel, keep up to date on developments in his academic field, and spend time with friends and family. He also enjoyed tinkering with model trains, and built an elaborate layout modeled on the Rhaetian Railway in Switzerland.

Mr. Szijj is survived by his son,

Antal, of Ventura, California, and daughter, Eva of Seattle,  Washington. 

They will miss him deeply.

 

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