Otto Borsody of North Plain Road, Great Barrington, died February 26 at Berkshire Medical Center surrounded by loving family, bringing his 13-year journey with Alzheimer’s to a peaceful end.
Born February 27, 1928 in Belgrade, Yugoslavia, the oldest son of Heinrich and Karoline Forsprecher Borsody, Otto grew up bilingual in the ethnic German community that had lived there for generations. Shortly before the end of World War II, fearing for their own safety after close relatives were killed, he and his family fled to Vienna, Austria. During one of the many bombing raids on Vienna, they became separated and his family presumed he had perished. Not knowing this, he returned to Yugoslavia after the war, hoping to reunite with them. It would take several years before Otto discovered his family was alive and had immigrated to the U.S. and for them to know he had also survived.
In Yugoslavia, he became an outspoken dissident against the new Communist regime and was jailed as a political prisoner for eight years, surviving brutal conditions and witnessing torture that he rarely talked about. After his release and still fearful for his life, he realized that he would have to leave the country of his birth.
Otto met the love of his life, Hildegard Maria Hudler, the day he arrived by train in Munich, Germany. He always shared with his daughters that it was love at first sight for him, although she took a bit of persuading since he was so emaciated from his long ordeal. They celebrated their 61st wedding anniversary on November 5th and were completely devoted to each other.
Otto immigrated to the United States under the Refugees Relief Act of 1953, arriving in New York harbor on the U.S. military transport ship USNS General Langfitt on August 30, 1955, a day that remained so significant for him that he marked it on each year’s calendar and retold the story every August 30th.
He was finally reunited with his family and settled in Housatonic where they had moved to work in the textile mills. English, which was taught at weekly night classes for the large immigrant community in Housatonic, became the fifth language he learned.
Otto was a painter and contractor for several years and then worked as shift operator on the paper air dryer at the former Rising Paper Company in Housatonic. He was also a union official with the United Paperworkers International Union in the 1970s, traveling to Washington, D.C., for legislative and political conferences. The highlight of one visit to D.C. was personally meeting his hero John Glenn and having an official photo taken shaking Senator Glenn’s hand in his Senate office. He retired from Rising in 1993 with more than 30 years of service.
Otto loved working outdoors on his property and tending to his huge vegetable garden that he meticulously kept weed-free. He was always an animal lover and there was never a time that the Borsody household did not include at least one abandoned cat that had been rescued. He was always whistling or humming, loved classical music and sang in the St. Peter’s Choir for 35 years. He and his wife always sang “Silent Night” (“Stille Nacht”) in German at Christmas Eve Mass and taught the other choir members the words. He was a member of the Knights of Columbus, Council 513 of Great Barrington. Otto and his wife loved travelling, but out of all their many destinations their two favorites were Hawaiian trips their daughters arranged as anniversary gifts.
After his diagnosis of moderate Alzheimer’s disease in the early 2000s, Mr. Borsody was a participant in several clinical trials of drugs in development for the treatment of the Alzheimer’s at The Memory Clinic in Bennington, Vt. He often said that if the drugs would not help him personally, at the very least these clinical studies would aid in finding a treatment that would benefit others living with Alzheimer’s.
Mr Borsody is survived by family members throughout this country and Germany. In addition to his wife, he is survived by three daughters: Rosemarie Borsody, Heidi Yvonne Borsody, Evelyn McBride and husband Richard; four grandchildren Emily Borsody and husband Todd Tyer, Christopher Knox, Jeremy Knox, Caroline Knox and partner Ryan Chaney; two great-grandsons Carter Tyer and Madden Chaney; his cousin Jeanette Shyn who was like a sister to him; his sister-in-law Elfriede Hoelzl; his son-in-law Jeffrey Knox; and several nieces and nephews. Family meant everything to him and he was a caring, loving father, grandfather and great-grandfather (Opa) and uncle (Onkel Otto).
He was predeceased by his parents, his twin brothers Robert and Raimond who died in early childhood, and his beloved brother Walter who died in 2013.
The family wishes to thank the staff of Unit 1 at Hillcrest Commons, particularly Matt and Arthur (our honorary family members), and the medical team on the 5th Floor at BMC for their kindness and compassionate care of Otto.
Funeral services for Otto Borsody will be held on March 4 at 10 a.m. with a Liturgy of Christian Burial at St. Peter’s Church in Great Barrington with the Rev. William Murphy officiating. Burial following church services will be private.
There are no calling hours. In lieu of flowers, memorial donations in Otto Borsody’s name may be made to the Alzheimer’s Association or St. Peter’s Church through the BIRCHES-ROY FUNERAL HOME, 33 South St., Great Barrington MA 01230. Remembrances to his family may also be sent in care of the funeral home. Condolences may be made through birchesroyfuneralservices.com.