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Lajos Rigler, Riverside business owner who fled Soviets in Hungary

July 17, 1927 – Feb. 2, 2018

Lajos "Louie" Rigler fled the Hungarian revolution with his wife and two children in 1956, only to be stopped by the Russians. But luck was on their side, and they eventually found their way out of Europe and landed in Riverside. In that working-class Buffalo neighborhood, Rigler made a life for himself and his family, becoming a self-made business owner and entrepreneur.

He remained a fixture in Riverside until his death on Friday at the age of 90.

Born in Mad, Hungary, Mr. Rigler earned a degree in electrical engineering at the University at Nyirethasza before fleeing the country with his young family during revolution against the Soviet-backed Hungarian government.

"During the night, we escaped, only to get caught by the Russians," said his daughter, Maria Biskup. "They took our vodka and watches but let us go."

Mr. Rigler arrived in the United States with his family that same year, settled in Buffalo and two years later opened up Rigler Electronics in a shop next to his home on Tonawanda Street. He owned and operated the business for nearly four decades, and received awards for being the largest Sylvania and Goldstar dealer.

He also eventually returned to Hungary in 1988 and opened Rigler Enterpriser, an import-export business selling electronics when the country became more open to the West.

Featured in a Buffalo News story in the 1970s, headlined "From Budapest to Buffalo," Mr. Rigler was seen as a man who started with nothing but over time became a prominent local businessman. He was a past member of the Buffalo Launch Club, Riverside Businessmen’s Association and the Better Business Bureau.

He played piano, traveled to many countries and enjoyed boating, hunting and spending time with his grandchildren and great grandchildren. He was also a Buffalo Sabre season ticket holder for many years.

A prominent landlord, Mr. Rigler sold his Riverside home and other properties shortly before his death.

In addition to his daughter, he is surivved by his wife of 68 years, the former Maria Trestyanszky, and a son, Gabor Rigler. Another son, Louie, died in 1996.

A Mass of Christian Burial will be held at 9:30 a.m Tuesday at St. Christopher's Catholic Church, 2660 Niagara Falls Blvd., Town of Tonawanda.

 

 

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