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Published: Saturday, 1/16/2010

Fire captain led Hungarian Club

BY MARK ZABORNEY
BLADE STAFF WRITER

Andrew J. Rakay, 80, a retired Toledo fire captain who was president of his union and, in recent years, president of the retirees association, died Thursday in Toledo Hospital from complications of a stroke suffered Dec. 19.

Mr. Rakay was assigned to Station 3 at Bush and Erie streets when he retired in early 1982. A life of ease was not for him. "He didn't want to have leisure time. He didn't have time to have leisure time," his daughter, Cindy, said. "He was too busy for that kind of thing."

He was president of the Toledo Retired Firefighters Association and financial secretary and an executive board member of the Police and Fire Retirees of Ohio.

He was president of the Hungarian Club and the International Boxing Club. He visited Szeged, Hungary, when it became Toledo's sister city. "He wanted to lead people. He did a good job and kept getting re-elected," said his brother John, also a retired firefighter.

Mr. Rakay and friends held marathon joke-telling sessions, his daughter said.

"He was a people magnet. He was always the belle of the ball," his daughter said. "My dad was a gentleman and surrounded himself with friends who were gentlemen."

He had a second career as a real estate appraiser. He operated A.J. Rakay Appraisal Co. from his West Toledo home, maintained his license, and still did appraisals, his daughter said.

Mr. Rakay became a firefighter in 1960. He was promoted to lieutenant in 1966 and captain in 1971.

Retired Assistant Chief Robert Schwanzl said, "He was one of those team players on the fire department."

Mr. Rakay was employed at several stations through the years. "He was on 1 Squad when the Anthony Wayne Trail fire came in in 1961," Chief Schwanzl said. "He was one of those who was first on the scene."

Four firefighters were killed and at least 10 others were injured when a gasoline tanker truck overturned and burst into flames near downtown. He later spoke of his shock at the size of the explosion and the intensity of the heat from the fire.

"It gave him a respect for life," his daughter said.

At the scene, "he burned his fingers unbuttoning the coat of one of the guys who later died; they had the metal toggle buttons," she said. He attended annual memorial services in Chub DeWolfe Park downtown.

In 1971, he won a federal court ruling that allowed him as a firefighter to run for City Council. He did not make it past the primary election, however. He was president of Firefighters Local 92 later in the 1970s.

Mr. Rakay grew up in the East Toledo neighborhood of Birmingham and went to Waite High School. While in the Army, he was assigned to the Atomic Energy Commission at the Pentagon.

Afterward, he delivered milk and was a meat cutter before he was appointed to the fire department.

Surviving are his daughter, Cindy Rakay; brother, John, and sister, Helen Singlar.

Services will be at 11 a.m. Tuesday in the Walker Funeral Home, where the body will be after 2 p.m. tomorrow. A Last Alarm Service will be at 7 p.m. Monday in the mortuary. The family suggests tributes to the Toledo Firefighters Museum.

Contact Mark Zaborney at:

mzaborney@theblade.com

or 419-724-6182.



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