Maria Geczy, MD
Born January 8, 1934; passed away peacefully, surrounded by love on March 13, 2019
Maria Geczy, MD, was a cardiologist, pharmaceutical executive, women’s rights advocate, lifelong intellectual, and beloved mother/grandmother/sister/aunt. She died peacefully March 13, 2019, at Stonebridge retirement community, surrounded by family.
Maria was born in Budapest, Hungary on January 8, 1934, to Lea Szitar and George Geczy. She lived in Budapest until she was 11, when she, her parents, and brother fled Hungary. The family spent six years as refugees in Austria, primarily in Salzburg. Under the circumstances, Maria received no formal secondary education. The family emigrated to the United States in 1951 and settled in New Brunswick, NJ. Maria was accepted to Douglass College the following year, and then went on to Pennsylvania Women’s Medical College. While in residency at the Cleveland Clinic, she married Tamas Raday in April 1962. The couple settled in the Philadelphia suburbs, where they eventually had two children, Thomas and Sophia Raday. After practicing cardiology at Einstein Medical Center in Philadelphia, Maria entered a career in the pharmaceutical industry.
She worked at both Smith Kline and Wyeth Laboratories before taking a position at Syntex Laboratories in Palo Alto, CA, in 1979. She was at one point the highest-ranking woman in the pharmaceutical industry, culminating her career as Vice President, Medical Affairs at Syntex. She was a tireless champion for women in the workplace, regularly recruiting other women as leaders as well as advocating for women in the administrative area to be promoted to higher positions and put on career tracks. At the same time, she sought to elevate the skills associated with women’s traditional roles as caregivers and household managers, insisting that – when homemakers sought to move into the workplace – these skills should be respected as important qualifications.
In 1987, Maria and Tamas separated amicably, remaining close friends until Tamas’s death in 1991. Maria became a devoted San Franciscan, active in the San Francisco Symphony, the Metropolitan League, the City Club, and the Asian Art Museum.
She was a deep and independent thinker and progressive in her politics. When she retired from Syntex in 1994, she worked on the first health-care reform-efforts under President Clinton, advising a key Member of Congress. She also pursued interests in art, architecture, classical music, fractals, photography, genealogy, and archaeology, traveling to study hieroglyphics at Oxford and to Israel and Egypt to view and translate relics firsthand.
Maria is survived by her children Thomas (Jill) and Sophia Raday (Blair Alexander); her brother George Geczy, Jr.; her sister Elizabeth Zuckerman; her beloved grandchildren Tom, Matthew, and Natalie Raday and George and Catalina Alexander; and many nieces, nephews, grand-nieces, and grand-nephews.
A private memorial is planned for late spring.
Donations in memory of Maria may be made to the Nature Conservancy.