Imre “James” Gaal, 75, of Sheffield Lake, passed away on the afternoon of Tuesday, June 17, 2014, at the New Life Hospice Center of St. Joseph, following a brief illness. Born in Koronco, Hungary on October 18, 1938, he escaped from Hungary during the Hungarian Revolution in 1956 at the age of 18. Along with four friends, Imre came to Ellis Island. Eventually, he was able to join family members residing in South Amherst. He became a naturalized citizen of the United States in 1969 and Americanized his name to James.
In his early days in the United States, he was employed by the Cleveland Quarry Company in South Amherst and subsequently as a tow motor operator for the Concrete Masonry Corporation in Elyria. Mr. Gaal later worked as a drywall finisher; in 1965, he opened his own drywall business and continued the trade for more than a half century, until his health began to decline in 2008. In 1975, he joined the Ford Motor Company and balanced his career at the drywall company with his duties as a block sander at the Ohio Truck Plant. A member of United Autoworker’s Local 2000, Imre retired from the automaker in 2001, following 26 years of service.
A parishioner of St. Thomas the Apostle Catholic Church in Sheffield Lake, James had been a member of St. Lad’s Club in Lorain for 57 years and also served as a member and trustee for the St. Lad’s Sick Benefit Society.
In his free time, he enjoyed bowling, golf, fishing, and hunting. Additional interests included travel, (especially to his native Hungary), and spending time with his Hungarian friends. He also enjoyed spending time with his family and loved to have the grandchildren that he was so proud of, come for visits.
He is survived by his wife of 53 years, Linda J. (nee Hutchinson); daughters, Marianne Richardson of Caldwell, Texas, Jennifer L. Fitzer of Sheffield Lake; and his sons, John J. Gaal of Sheffield Lake, and James A. Gaal of Navarre, Ohio. Additional survivors include grandchildren, John, Michael, Christina, Benjamin, Brennan, Tyler, Ryan, Haily, Anthony, Bo, and Ben; great-grandchildren, Alexis, Addison, and Parker; siblings, Miklos Gaal, Irene Szaloki, Erzsebet Ramm, and Peter Gaal, all of Gyor, Hungary, along with numerous nieces, nephews and cousins, residing in both Ohio and Hungary.
Imre was preceded in death by his parents, Imre and Maria (nee Prohaszka) Gaal.
Visitation will be Thursday, June 19, 2014, from 4 until 8 P.M., in the Gluvna-Shimo-Hromada Funeral Chapel, 3224 Broadway Avenue, Lorain. Funeral services will be Friday, June 20, 2014, at 11 A.M., in the funeral chapel, with the the Reverend Stephen Shields, Pastor of St. Thomas the Apostle Catholic Church, presiding. Burial will follow in Ridge Hill Memorial Park, Amherst Township.
Donations may be made, in his memory, to The American Lung Association National Office, 55 W. Wacker Drive, Suite 1150, Chicago IL 60601.