PORTRAIT: Christine Tingstad BOLDIZSÁR

  by Marta Boros Horvath

During his assignment as Los Angeles Hungarian Chief Consul, Ambassador Balazs Bokor interviewed 56 Hungarians living in the Western states for the anniversary of the 1956 Revolution. His interviews were published in a book, Távolban Magyar. Each portrait started with three adjectives that characterized the interviewee. Borrowing from his example, if I were to try to sum up Christine Tingstad Boldizsar with three adjectives, I would choose giving, supporting and helpful. In reality, however, there is so much more to Christine than those three adjectives.

When I’ve interviewed people for Hírek portraits, I’ve always learned things about them by meeting with them in their homes. Christine graciously agreed to an in-person interview when I asked her, and I went to see her in her new home. Her husband, Sándor, or Sanyi Bácsi to many, was a popular and well-respected member of our Association; and, sadly, he passed away just July 3rd of this year. In the short time since then, Christine sold their family home and purchased a new apartment in Issaquah, at the prestigious Timber Ridge senior community. I admire her organized and decisive nature!

She was waiting for me at the front entrance, making sure that I would have a spot to park my car. Her caring personality already showed itself. From the grand main lobby she took me up to her 5th floor apartment and showed me her new living quarters that she shares with her beloved cat, Isabella. She apologized that her new furniture hadn’t arrived yet, but we found comfortable seating on her sofa and shared a delicious lunch that she ordered from the community’s kitchen. 

I’ve known Christine and Sándor as long as I can remember. It seems that they were always there as active members of our Association. Christine served on the Board as the Social Committee’s co-chair and as secretary. Then about 15 years ago she and Alex took on the leadership of our seniors, the Forever Young group. They planned and organized meetings and encouraged attendance. They made coffee, set up the room, decorated it, and welcomed everyone with their characteristic warm hospitality. And they always brought food for the potluck table. Food was Sándor’s love language.

I commented to Christine, “When former president Zsuzsa Stanfield asked you to accept this role, my impression was that you wanted a place for Sándor, where he could speak Hungarian and connect with his fellow countrymen.”

Yes,” she replied. “I like people, I like visiting and so did Sándor, and we were a team. I also wanted a place for the seniors where they would feel comfortable and welcomed. And because I’m not Hungarian, I could help to create this place by working in the background, setting up tables, taking care of the food, etc., without feeling left out.  I always had something to do, and it made me happy and satisfied.  This group was the source of lots of joy to Sándor and me.”

I think that Christine is way too humble. The rest of us showed up at these gatherings and enjoyed each other’s company, played games and shared food. But we also had guest speakers, presenters, and musicians invited by Christine. Yes, she often worked in the background, and if we didn’t pat her back for the good work, she said she still found fulfilment in bringing the group together. Now, that is a confident, self-assured woman for you! My impression is that she is comfortable in her own skin and does not have hang-ups being among Hungarians like some other people do. 

It’s important for her to support good causes by volunteering and helping others. An example that she mentioned is the new Hungarian Catholic Mass. “I don’t understand the language of the Mass,” she said, “but God knows what’s in my heart, and I feel that it is important to support this new and worthy endeavor. The location of the Mass is quite far from my home, but I’m willing to do the travel because I believe in it.”

When she believes in something, she develops deep loyalties. I think that’s what happened between her and our Hungarian culture. She got introduced to the Croatian culture through her uncle in her youth, and when she met Sándor Boldizsár in 1963, it was easy for her to transition into the Hungarian culture. 

Christine talked about our culture in glowing terms with full conviction. For me, it was a privilege to hear someone compliment the culture that I was born into. Christine adopted it as her own and her children’s as well. “The Hungarian culture is beautiful,” she said, “and it provides a rich cultural experience. One of the richest and most interesting of its kind, and I wish that more people could get acquainted with its uniqueness. Look at the arts, the music, and the countless talents that your small nation produces. Or look at your poets and poetry, for one.” 

To us Hungarians, our literature is dear and our poets are revered. But our language is difficult to translate into another language so that others can fully grasp its lyricism. That is why our writers, and even more so our poets, are less known in the world than it could be otherwise. Yet here is Christine, fully appreciating our gift! 

The fact that she brought up our composers, music, and musicians did not surprise me. She has always supported our musical events, musicians, and music through her other volunteer work, her presidency in the Seattle-Pécs Sister City Association. Christine commented, “Sándor always told me he wished that I could just understand the words of the Hungarian songs, they are so eloquent and beautiful!” All these compliments were music to my ears.

For those of you who may not know Christine, she is a mother of three grown children, two daughters and a son, and is a loving, caring grandmother to five grandchildren. She was a working mother for over 25 years, and is also active at her church, Saint Louise in Bellevue. For years, she has regularly exercised at her Jazzercise Fitness club, as well as taking daily walks. She enjoys reading and quilting and she belongs to both a book club and a quilting club. She and Sándor loved to dance and they were avid travelers. Christine still has a bucket list of places that she’d like to visit in the future, such as Spain, France, Scotland, England, Greece, Costa Rica, Quebec, India…and the list goes on. She remains active, and I have no doubt she’ll visit these destinations when travel once again opens up.

Is she an example to look up to and follow? Absolutely!

Now that she’s ready to pass the torch of the Forever Young group to someone else, we thank Christine for her years of tireless and enthusiastic leadership of the seniors and for accepting and loving our Hungarian culture as her own. 

Christine, we also wish you many happy years in your new home and exciting, new adventures in good health! Since November is the month of your birthday, 

 Happy 79th Birthday, Christine

Photos from various events of the Forever Young gatherings and curtesy of Marta Boros Horvath

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