Joseph Ronald GyulayJuly 5, 1935 ~ September 26, 2017 (age 82)
Joseph Ronald Gyulay, a long-time resident of Panama City Beach, died on Tuesday, September 26, 2017, at Bay Medical Sacred Heart Hospital, at the age of 82.
Joe was born in Cleveland, Ohio. In July 1941, at just 6 years old, Joe began singing on weekly live radio broadcasts. He was second place winner in a live performance at the Masonic Theatre, where he sang the Hungarian songs, “Two Acres of Land” and “My Sweetheart is Pretty”. The Cleveland Newspapers wrote that Joe sang with all the dash and confidence of an old timer. Joe travelled and entertained with the Red Cross on wartime blood drives. He performed in shows throughout Ohio, helping to sell War Bonds alongside many celebrities, in places like the Cleveland Public Auditorium and the Masonic Temple. Joe also performed with the USO at the Stage Door Canteen.
As a teenager, Joe began writing songs and jingles for commercials on radio and television, and received the TV Guide Talent Award. He attended West Technical High School and Case Institute of Technology in Cleveland. Joe had a keen interest in physics and engineering, and later won the Ford Motor Company Industrial Award. He also attended the University of Colorado Boulder during his time in the United States Air Force.
Joe began his Air Force service with the 4727th Air Defense Group and the 465th Fighter Interceptor Squadron as a Missile Guidance Control Systems Specialist. His technical skills were utilized at Lowry Air Force Base Colorado, Sampson Air Force Base New York, and Robbins Air Force Base Georgia. It was his transfer to Griffiss Air Force Base in Rome, New York that started Joe on a new career path.
Joe was fluent in both Hungarian and Russian. During his time in the 606th Camron 14th Air Force, he was assigned to act as an interpreter for the newly arriving refugees as part of the Hungarian Relief Program. Joe’s assignment was to assist refugees in locating employment, and he created a custom kitchen cabinet manufacturing business in Rome with one newly arrived Hungarian refugee. That business went on to employ many other refugee newcomers. The cabinet-making business suited Joe perfectly, building on his lifelong interest in woodworking.
During his time in New York, Joe met and married Joan Marie Rogowski, and soon had a new business opportunity back in his hometown of Cleveland. Joe left the Air Force and his refugee ventures and returned to Cleveland, where he founded the Engineered Wood Products Company, which produced kitchen and bath cabinets throughout the 1960s. Joe later sold his cabinet business and used his engineering background to begin building food packaging machinery for the newly invented freeze-dried and dehydrated packaged food business. Joe’s products were ready-to-eat instant foods for hikers, campers and explorers, such as those used in expeditions to Africa and by climbers of Mount Everest.
Joe and Joan eventually retired to their favourite vacation spot: Panama City Beach, Florida. While Joe continued to work past retirement, and at age 70 owned a private equity and property management company, he and his wife still found time to enjoy the beach. They were also active members of the Bay County community, contributing to many local social, cultural and charitable organizations.
Joe possessed pyrotechnic skills from his Air Force training, and volunteered time and resources to create professional firework displays for his community and friends at the Italian American Club every 4th of July. Joe and Joan were very religious and spiritual people, and gave much of their free time to the Church. For 20 years they appeared on Sunday morning television singing praises to the Lord, and during the Christmas season they entertained the residents of local nursing homes. Joe and Joan believed in giving back to the community and supporting needy people throughout their lifetimes.
Joe was a devoted husband of 60 years to his wife Joan, and has been heartbroken since she passed away this last April. He also had three children, three grandchildren and two great grandchildren.
Memorial tributes can be made to Alzheimer’s Association (alz.org) or to the Masonic Home of Florida (http://masonichomefl.com).