- The Washington Times - Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Michael Czinkota, 82, actor, businessman

Michael Czinkota, an actor and businessman, died April 17 at St. Peters Hospital in Albany, N.Y. He was 82.

He was born near Budapest in 1925 and graduated from the Academy of Performing Arts of Hungary in 1946. His performance at the undergraduate level guaranteed him a prominent place in the National Theater of Hungary.

Mr. Czinkota emigrated to the United States in the early 1950s and was requested to join the staff of Radio Free Europe in Munich. During his time with RFE, he made it possible for his audiences behind the Iron Curtain to hear the works of artists who were forbidden or just not publicized there.

He returned to the U.S. at the invitation of film composer Miklos Rozsa. He attended the Actors Studio in New York, where he was a classmate of Marlon Brando, Marilyn Monroe and Steve McQueen. He was represented for a time by the prestigious William Morris Agency, and although he had parts in several movies in Hollywood, not having the patience to wait for suitable roles, he started a commercial air-conditioning business, which he made a success.

All the time, he continued to take an active role in the theaters of the Hungarian-American communities throughout the country. For more than 40 years, he starred in theaters in the District and New York City. He appeared in Albany, N.Y., and Schenectady, N.Y., in the past few years, performing even with failing health to within a year of his death. His stage presence, the choice of material and his unique delivery (recitations sometimes of great length without notes) made him a beloved personage of the Hungarian stage.

Of his numerous roles, probably the most unusual was that of God in “The Tragedy of Man.” He was honored with many decorations and was knighted in 1999. He was honored by Catholic and Protestant organizations, the World Jewish Council and the Council of Hungarian Jews. Mr. Czinkota was asked and did write a textbook on refrigeration published by McGraw-Hill and used throughout the world. Though not a lawyer, he was an honorary member of the Association of Hungarian Barristers.

All his life, he was an avid hunter, a dedicated fisherman and a lover of nature. Mr. Czinkota moved to Coxsackie, N.Y., from Flushing, N.Y., in 2006.

Mr. Czinkota is survived by two sons, Michael R. Czinkota of McLean and Thomas Czinkota of Frankfurt, Germany; three grandchildren; and his dear companion, Kinga M. LaChapelle of Coxsackie. His wife, Ursula, preceded him in death.

John B. Umhau, 81, family doctor

Dr. John B. Umhau Jr., a fifth-generation Washingtonian who practiced family medicine for 50 years, died April 16 at the University of Maryland Shock Trauma Center in Baltimore after suffering a fall. He was 81.

Dr. Umhau grew up sledding through the alleys of the District and delivering newspapers by bicycle with hardly a touch of the handlebars.

Married in 1953 to Janet Fleet Nufer, he still could not believe — even at the time of his death — that he had had the good fortune of having her go on a second date with him, much less spend her life with him, his family said. They met when he was an usher at Carter Barron Amphitheater where she had the female lead as Martha Washington in “Faith of Our Fathers.” She had forgotten her backstage pass, and he allowed her access.

Dr. Umhau attended Paul Junior High School and Coolidge High School in the District. During World War II, he graduated from the Eddy School of the U.S. Navy and served as a radar technician. He received his bachelor’s and medical degrees from George Washington University, working as a summer ranger at Yellowstone National Park during that time.

Dr. Umhau maintained a vibrant family practice into his late 70s and was involved in the leadership of numerous medical organizations, including serving as president of the Montgomery County Medical Society. He was chief of the medical staff of Suburban Hospital in Bethesda in the 1970s and also was on the medical staff at Holy Cross, Montgomery General and Washington Adventist hospitals. He twice received the Distinguished Alumni Service Award from the George Washington University Medical School.

He served as physician for the national 4-H Center and for Chevy Chase Troop 255 of the Boy Scouts of America. He was a member of the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association and a medical examiner and accident investigator for the Federal Aviation Administration.

A published photographer, stamp collector, amateur magician, beekeeper and avid traveler, he particularly enjoyed Viennese waltzes and anything he did with his wife, Jan.

A lifetime member of Grace Lutheran Church in the District, he was on the board of directors for the National Lutheran Home in Rockville. He was a member of the Sons of the Revolution, the St. Andrew”s Society, Columbia Country Club and the Cosmos Club.

In addition to his wife, he is survived by three sons, Dr. John C. Umhau of Potomac, Dr. William F. “Biff” Umhau of Owings, Md., and Dr. Andrew N. Umhau of Chevy Chase; a sister, Marjorie Umhau Jensen of Clear Lake, Iowa; and 10 grandchildren.


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