Spouses of former Presidents

Zsuzsanna Mária Göntér, Mrs. Dr. Árpád Göncz was the wife of the first President of the Republic of democratic Hungary, who served two terms in office between 1990 and 2000.

They raised four children, six grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren.

Lady Zsuzsanna came from a Transdanubian family of teachers; the innate desire to help others was something she brought from home. This was a way for her to reciprocate all the friendly and humane gestures and assistance she received when she was left alone with her four children, during the years her husband spent in prison.

She was among the first to participate in the training of social workers in Hungary and later she made it her vocation to invest a great deal of energy in helping those in need, the vulnerable and the underprivileged by joining the activity of NGOs assisting them.

In 1993, together with her husband, they established the Hand in Hand Foundation, of which she was the honorary chair. She was personally involved in promoting the complex work done to improve the conditions of care and development of children living with mental and multiple disabilities. She played a substantial role in the adoption of the legislation aimed at promoting equal opportunities for those living with disabilities, which received international recognition.

Dalma Mádl (b. Némethy, Pécs, 1932) is the fourth child of a family of intellectuals. She graduated in the Patrona Hungariae High School of Budapest in 1951 and started working in the Pediatric Hospital of Pécs the same year.

In 1955 she married Ferenc Mádl. From 1957 she worked in the Budapest Horticultural Research Institute until 1964, when she transferred to the University of Technical Sciences in Budapest, where she worked with the agricultural chemical technology research team until her retirement.

The Mádls have one son and three grandchildren.

During the term in office of Ferenc Mádl, she was not only at the side of her husband on official engagements, but considered it natural to also separately visit Hungarian minority communities abroad and to regularly deliver aid supplies to the victims in flood stricken areas.

She regularly organized country tours for diplomatic spouses to let them better get acquainted with the natural, industrial and cultural values of our country.

She is especially dedicated to promoting Halas lace, a Hungarian Cultural Heritage item, which she often selected as a gift on high level state visits.

In December 2005, she was the first recipient of the “Award for a Civic Hungary” founded by the Hungarian Association of Civil Co-operation. The HUF 1 million she received with the award allowed her to create the “God-given Talent Foundation” which provides assistance to talented children of low income families in rural settlements to study as boarding students in church run schools. The number of youth receiving assistance is continuously increasing.

Lady Dalma showed the same kind of example from wisdom, kindness and patience to the country as the spouse of the President, as did her husband, who passed away on 29th May 2011. She has been doing a lot since to preserve the intellectual legacy of Ferenc Mádl, our national traditions and cultural values, but, most of all, to alleviate the situation of the neediest.

She is a Goodwill Ambassador of the Catholic Caritas.

Erzsébet Sólyom (b. Nagy) was born in Budapest into an intellectual family with 4 children. In 1963 she graduated from the musical section of the Secondary School of Arts in Pécs. Then she studied at Eötvös Loránd University in Budapest and earned her degree in Hungarian language, literature and psychology.

In 1966 she married László Sólyom, whom she met at the Conservatory in Pécs where they both studied. Their son is an architect, the father of 5 children. Their daughter, the mother of 6 children, received her degree in German and Hungarian language and literature.

Erzsébet Sólyom worked as teacher of Hungarian language and literature in various schools, including the Bartók Béla Conservatory in Budapest.

She never lost contact with arts: she was especially interested in music, fine arts and literature. Nature walking was a shared passion of hers and her husband, and they successfully instilled their love of nature in their grandchildren.

She was present at the establishment of the board of trustees of the Foundation for our Families, an organisation with special focus on promoting equal opportunities for large families raising multiple children. She joined the Hospice movement; she promoted it among youth and also took visiting First Ladies to their events. She maintained close personal ties with the Mental Rehabilitation Home for Tumor Patients in Bakonyszűcs. She was supportive of the social inclusion of those living with disabilities (Motivation Foundation, Never Give Up Foundation).

Katalin Makray was born at the end of World War II, on 5th April 1945 in a middle class family in Vasvár. She has four brothers.

Having graduated from the Trefort street Training High School of ELTE University she obtained her trainer’s diploma at the College of Physical Education. She won numerous Hungarian championships, individual and team University Games, and won a silver medal on uneven bars at the 1964 Tokyo Olympic Games.

She married Pál Schmitt in 1966. They have three children and six grandchildren.

From 1963 until 1984 she worked at the Hungarian Post, initially in office positions, later as a training professional. From 1976 until 1985 she appeared regularly on the evening gymnastics program of the Hungarian Television with her three children. She was the founder of the Hungarian Aerobics Association in 1991.

As the wife of the President of the Republic she did a lot to foster national traditions, to protect Hungarian products and to support children and adults in need. She still continues to pursue her charitable activities today.