Eva Bessenyey

Eva Bessenyey, a fearless, independent woman decades ahead of her time, died in New York City, NY on May 7, 2018. Born March 30, 1922 in Budapest, Hungary, Eva was trained as an artist through Smith College, had careers as a layout editor for Harcourt Brace Jovanovich and a competitive endurance horseback rider. Baroness Eva Bessenyey was the daughter of Baron and Baroness Gyorgy and Giselle (Bene) Bessenyey. Her father, a diplomat, was the Hungarian Secretary of State in exile until the failed Hungarian Revolution of 1956. Her mother spoke several languages and was an accomplished artist. Eva came to the United States in 1947 and attended Smith shortly after arriving in the United States. Eva was perhaps best known for her love of travel. Wanderlust would set in and she would tell her boss at Harcourt Brace that, while she loved her job, she must leave to travel. Her boss would say, “I cannot guarantee that your desk will be here when you get back.” She spent almost two years travelling through South America and the Amazon alone in the 1950s, and over the decades visited Egypt, Iran, Yemen, Nepal, Turkey, as well as most European countries. Invariably, upon her return to New York she would find her desk just as she had left it. Her love of the Middle East led her to teach herself Arabic, a challenge she enjoyed until her death. She also spoke Hungarian, French, English, German and Spanish. Her travels fostered a love of rugs from this part of the world, and she developed a reputation as an expert in the woven arts. Eva had a close relationship with her stepmother, the Countess Margit Sigray Bessenyey, founded in part on their mutual love of horses. Eva trained Margit’s Hungarian Warm Blood horses at Mt. Aventine in Maryland and the Bitter Root Stock Farm in Hamilton, MT. She then participated in competitive trail rides in the United States on these horses, helping to reestablish the credentials of a breed which the Countess and her friends were responsible for saving from the devastations of World War II. She will be sorely missed, including by her loving nieces with whom she was especially close, and her sister-in- law’s family, the Barczas of New Jersey. She is survived by her nieces Margit of Washington, DC; Ilona of Anchorage, AK, married to Peter Van Tuyn; Kristina, of Hamilton, MT, married to Clint Adkins; and Rose Noel of Verona, Italy; as well as four grandnieces: Alina, Marielle, Liszka and Flore, one grandnephew Merrick, and a greatgrandniece Mia. Services will be held in New York City and Hamilton, Montana, later this summer. Memorial donations may be made in Eva’s name to the Tibetan Nuns Project, 815 Seattle Boulevard South, #216, Seattle, WA 98134, or the Hungarian House, 213 East 82nd Street, New York, NY 10028.