Thomas Karolyi, one of J. Taylor Finley Junior High School’s founding faculty members passed away earlier this month. He was 82 and still performing as a musician.
Faced with suffocating religious persecution in his native Budapest, Hungary, Mr. Karolyi and his family immigrated to the United States. He became a US citizen and later earned undergraduate and graduate music education degrees at City University of New York-Queens College.
Longtime Huntington UFSD music teacher Tom Karolyi has passed away at 82
Mr. Karolyi began his career at Finley in September 1965 when the school first opened its doors. His deep voice and slight accent added to the aura that always seemed to envelope him. He had a perpetual spring in his step. He walked fast through the halls.
As a strings teacher, orchestra director and violinist, few could match Tom Karolyi. He performed throughout his life and right up until the time of his death. His smile, quick wit and hearty laugh will always be remembered by his colleagues.
Over the years, Mr. Karolyi taught at Finley, Robert K. Toaz Junior High School and Huntington High School. He split time between Finley and the high school from 1988 until his retirement in July 1996, serving as orchestra director at both schools.
Mr. Karolyi’s file in the Huntington UFSD personnel office is packed full of accolades from fellow teachers, department supervisors and principals regarding his students’ performances at concerts and special events through the years.
The veteran music teacher’s “great rapport” with his students and his ability to “bring out the best in them musically” is a constant theme that runs throughout missives placed in Mr. Karolyi’s file.
Current Huntington music teachers, most notably those who work with strings students and orchestras across the district were exceedingly saddened to hear of Mr. Karolyi’s passing. He lived in the Huntington area and regularly attended district concerts.
Mr. Karolyi helped establish the Tri-M Music Honor Society in the district and served as its faculty advisor. He spent countless hours helping students prepare for NYSSMA auditions. As vice president of the Long Island String Festival, he played a key role in the organization and in the running of its festival.
Always a consummate professional, Mr. Karolyi had a certain boyishness to his nature. It’s that perpetually young at heart teacher that Huntington UFSD will never forget.