Laszlo Jurak

Obituary of Laszlo J. Jurak

It is with profound sadness we share the news that Laszlo Jurak, Athletic Director, physical education teacher, and coach at The Waldorf School of Garden City (WSGC) from 1963-1994, passed away on Monday, March 4. Coach Jurak had an enormous impact on the Waldorf School community and its athletic program. He was a tireless advocate and leader for Team Handball on Long Island, across the United States, and around the world. He was born on June 2, 1931, in a farming village in Hungary and moved to Budapest with his family when he was seven years old. According to a 1986 profile in The New York Times, he was interested in sports as a child, so he joined a basketball club and in his senior year made the all-star team. At 18 years old, he worked for two years as a salesperson before enrolling in the University of Physical Education in Budapest. After Soviet troops moved into Hungary during the 1956 uprising, he took a train to Vienna from the Olympic Camp where he was training with the Hungarian National Basketball Team, and asked for political asylum at the United States Embassy, emigrating from his native Hungary and arriving in the United States in December 1956. He attended Bard College for three months to learn English before enrolling at New York University to study for a master's degree in physical education; while at NYU in 1963, it was recommended that he apply for a position on the faculty at The Waldorf School of Adelphi College as a physical education instructor, athletic director, and coach. After he was hired for the position by the Faculty Chair, John Gardner, he eventually transferred to Adelphi University and completed his master’s degree in 1971. Throughout his time at WSGC, Coach Jurak built a dynamic physical education curriculum rooted in building core strength through gymnastics and motor skill development. During his tenure as Athletic Director and Coach, his teams flourished – winning nineteen boys’ soccer league championships, and enjoying three separate winning streaks of forty games or more without a loss, one in the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s. In boys’ basketball, his teams finished as league runners-up on many occasions, finally winning the league championship in 1986. To recognize his coaching excellence, the Waldorf School soccer field was named in his honor in 2003. Coach Jurak was a player and coach for the U.S. Team Handball National Team and served as an administrator and board member for USA Team Handball for over 55 years. He was a lifelong ambassador for the sport, advocating for it around the world and organizing competitions throughout his life, including at Adelphi University, where he also coached. Coach Jurak is credited with scouting and developing more than 15 Olympians and more than seventy-five men’s and women’s U.S. National Team members and is the U.S. all-time winningest coach, having won 22 U.S. national handball championships. Coach Jurak also served as a tennis instructor for Garden City Parks and Recreation well into his 80s, fostering a love for the sport in countless young people, and was an adjunct professor of Physical Education at Adelphi University. Laszlo Jurak was larger than life, he leaves behind an incredible legacy through the thousands of students and athletes he taught, coached, and mentored throughout his life. Coach Jurak is survived by his wife Ingrid, former Early Childhood teacher at WSGC, son Christian’87 and grandson Alex. We extend our heartfelt condolences to his family, friends, colleagues, students and athletes. A Public Wake will be held on Friday, March 8, 2024, at: Park Funeral Home, 2175 Jericho Tpke, Garden City Park, NY 11040 from 4:00 pm - 8:00 pm. In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be made to the Laszlo Jurak Athletic Fund at WSGC. Please select “Laszlo Jurak Fund” within the dropdown list under “designation”.


Visiting Hours

4:00 pm - 8:00 pm
Friday, March 8, 2024
Park Funeral Chapels
2175 Jericho Turnpike
Garden City Park , New York, United States
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