Measuring sales training

Measuring sales training

December 5, 2004

A Passion For FreedomA'kos KovachInspirational, Human Interest, Oklahoma Association of Mortgage Brokers, A'kos Kovach, Francis Joseph Kovach
Premise: The request was to write something about my father, who
recently passed away. Reason? My father was an inspiration to many,
but why? Where did he come from? What drove him to achieve his
goals? So, I began to think about my father's life ...
The first "war to end all wars" was raging when Francis Joseph
Kovach was born into humble surroundings in Budapest, Hungary on
July 19, 1918.
From an early age, Francis loved wrestling and running, and
excelled at his studies, mastering not only his mother tongue of
Hungarian, but also German and French. Before the age of nine,
Francis was tutoring other children in science, math and second
languages. Like breathing, teaching became a necessary part of his
existence, but the air Francis was breathing quickly became unclean
and stifling.
Economic turmoil swirled around the globe, as the Great
Depression took its toll on the lives of all families, especially
the poorer members of society. However, despite these and many
other seemingly unsurmountable obstacles, an unwavering
determination propelled Francis through a strict and demanding
educational system. Upon completion of his undergraduate and
graduate studies at Pazamany Peter University in Budapest, Francis
had, through sheer willpower, positioned himself to lead a better
quality of life, and to surround himself with art, music and
philosophy.
He met an intelligent, aristocratic flower of spring and married
her in July 1941; her name was Elizabeth Thokoly, a name which
spoke of prominence in Hungarian history and lore. They spoke of
love and life, and planned for their bright future together. Though
young, both were mature beyond their years, and they cautiously
watched the brutal acts of the Nazis as they spread their venom
throughout Europe.
Soon, life in Hungary became hazardous. The educated became a
threat to the "jackboots," and the puppet government capitulated to
the brutal stormtroopers' every whim. Francis and Elizabeth soon
found themselves hiding students and families in their home, while
looking for ways to escape to a better life.
Then came the bombs. More than a dozen times over a two-month
period, air raid sirens blared at all times of day, frightening the
adults and causing panic. Basements would quickly fill up with
strangers and families seeking shelter. When the explosions began
to shake the ground, everyone would become quiet. As shells crashed
through roofs only a few homes away, the assaults shook the beams
of Francis and Elizabeth's house, while the piercing scream of the
falling projectiles heightened the awareness of those huddled below
ground level.
As the bombardment continued, time seemed to slow. Each giant
piece of ammunition that ripped through the neighborhood became
embedded with a fire and fury none would ever forget. The shrill
sound of the bomb approaching the house in which Francis, Elizabeth
and many others were hiding and praying could be heard easily, and
the realization that they were imminent targets scared them beyond
words. By the Grace of God, the shell merely collapsed the roof,
burst through the second floor and crashed relatively peacefully
onto the living room floor. In less than 10 minutes, Francis and
Elizabeth collected what they could carry, and with two children in
hand, ran for their lives.
However, memories of war did not consume my parents' thoughts.
Instead, their focus was on the future and their desire to breathe
the fresh air of freedom.
For weeks on end, Francis and Elizabeth walked across dirt
trails and meadows, leaving their homeland and family further
behind with each step. They took with them only what they could
carry-children, food and clothing. Oftentimes, the journey required
that they walk day and night, dodging bullets, hiding from
retreating forces and circling the route of advancing armies. They
walked those back roads of Czechoslovakia and Austria relentlessly,
until they finally reached the Bavarian section of the Alps in
southern Germany. There, perched at more than 6,000 feet above sea
level, was the hamlet of Mittenwald, where Francis and Elizabeth
sought refuge, in barracks recently abandoned by POWs.
The makeshift camp soon became a displaced shelter of sorts.
Despite these circumstances, the young couple used their gifts of
intelligence and education to make life as bearable as they could
for themselves and others. Among their amazing accomplishments, the
couple started a school in the camp for children who were waiting
with their parents for a chance to leave. Nonetheless, the passion
for freedom now burned stronger than ever.
During their ordeals, Francis and Elizabeth suffered the loss of
their second- and third-born children-not to bullets or bloodshed,
but sadly, to a lack of simple medication and antibiotics. But
still, they would not let misfortune or hardship consume or sway
them from their passion. Instead, they kept thinking about the
future, continuously praying for answers and solutions.
While at the camp, Francis and Elizabeth had many choices for
emigration. They decided the best place to live would be in
America, thus the preparation and paperwork began. After living in
the camp for nearly seven years, and with the winter snow piling
deep in the mountain village, Francis received the word that he and
his family had been praying for: We have a space for you on a ship
leaving for America. Francis and Elizabeth quickly packed a wooden
military trunk with their scant belongings, and made the grueling
and dangerous trip to the seaport. There, they joined more than 400
similar refugees heading towards the fresh robust air of
freedom.
The high seas of the winter Atlantic sickened many of the
passengers, who were squeezed 10 and 12 at a time into areas
intended for no more than two. But freedom was pitching closer with
every blast of frigid air, despite the icy saltwater spraying their
faces. Each hour of each day, the dream began to take shape.
Finally, at the end of the second week, just above the horizon,
stood the Statue of Liberty, beckoning to them and reminding them
that their dreams would soon become reality.
Thus, in November 1951, Francis delivered his wife and children
to America. The air was pure and full of promise, and now that he
had succeeded in bringing his family to freedom, Francis sought a
new goal for himself-to complete his doctorate degree in
philosophy. However, arriving and settling in post-war America as
immigrants was no simple matter. Nothing could deter Francis, and
there were many months when, instead of teaching, Francis found
himself relegated to menial jobs and miserable working conditions.
But he and Elizabeth knew things would get better.
After early setbacks and hourly wages suited more for a single
man rather than a husband and father of two, Francis worked himself
up the ladder and was able to attain teaching positions at colleges
in both Minnesota (Mount St. Mary's) and Kansas (St. Benedict's).
The pressure that Francis had placed upon himself to attain his
Ph.D. was profound. Francis would work manual labor jobs 12-14
hours per day, teach classes and then come home and study. Francis
read the works of Aquinas and Aristotle until he could recite the
text. After years of struggle, an offer came for Francis to fill a
doctoral opening at Albertus Magnus, University of Cologne in West
Germany. Francis knew he had no time to waste. After weeks of
intense preparation, Francis traveled back to Germany and committed
himself entirely to the task at hand-obtaining his Ph.D. This
concentrated focus thrust Francis into a schedule that resulted in
completing his curriculum in less than half the time allowed.
Additionally, Francis gained a rare distinction and graduated Summa
Cum Laude, thus securing his doctorate in philosophy.
Armed with his new degree, Francis followed his dreams to
Villanova University in 1962, also teaching at Bryn Mawr College
during this time. Finally in 1964, Francis accepted an associate
professorship at the University of Oklahoma, where he
enthusiastically engaged and challenged his students for the next
24 years.
Francis was a copious reader and researcher, and his vast topics
of interest centered around medieval metaphysics, and the
philosophies of beauty, science and ethics. Francis never quit, and
when he needed to read or review a text, he preferred reading from
the original manuscripts rather than translations. Thus, he became
fluent in more than 10 languages. Francis authored three books and
36 articles, as well as numerous papers, written and published in
German, English and Portuguese journals and philosophical
proceedings. Francis became known as the world's leading authority
in the theories and philosophy taught by St. Thomas Aquinas, and
was listed in both Who's Who in America and 2000 Men of
Achievement.
So, what became of Francis' passion for freedom? It brought his
two remaining children to America, where they had opportunities
beyond anything available in Eastern Europe. What was the effect of
his arrival in America? Just ask the thousands of students who
streamed through the doors of his classrooms each day he taught. In
a world changing daily with political upheavals, the civil rights
movement, women's liberation and the computer age, Francis was able
to captivate his students and inspire them to think beyond their
own comfort zone.
The product of his desire for freedom is evidenced in what
Francis wrote, how he taught and the lives he transformed. His
students became doctors, lawyers and priests, and, of course, he
even inspired some of his students to become philosophers.
This short article is not just about Dr. Francis J. Kovach, but
rather, serves as a reminder of his sacrifice, study and sacred
passion for freedom. At this time of year, we think about spending
time with our family, traveling, buying gifts, visiting friends,
the parties and perhaps, where we came from and how we got here. I
was fortunate enough to be born to parents who not only had vision,
but also the tenacity to continue walking until they reached it.
Sure, my life has been peppered with good and bad, as have you
all.
However, approaching the end of this year, and knowing that I
cannot give my father one of the bearhugs he loved so much,
understanding that my father's booming voice will no longer echo
through the halls of his home, and accepting the loss of my
traveling buddy is not easy. Listening to his last breath escape as
I held him in my arms that final day was unlike any pain I have
ever felt.
What the sage has spoken is true-savor each day with your
family. Express your love with random acts of kindness. As you
gather at your places of worship this holiday season, remember
those who have helped bring you there. Thank God for your
blessings. Recall with joy that which is important. Then, spread
some love around in the garden of freedom.
A'kos Kovach is Immediate Past President of the Oklahoma Association of Mortgage
Brokers. He may be reached by phone at (405) 377-200 or e-mail
akos@wemakemortgages.com.

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