Anna Doby and her husband, Tibor Doby, knew firsthand how devastating the effects of war can be. They lost their home, their personal belongings and their livelihoods during the Hungarian Revolution of 1956.

Their experience is the main reason why Anna Doby’s estate has left $1 million to three Maine-based organizations that address the needs of soldiers and their families.

Anna Doby died last year; Tibor Doby died in 1998. They lived in Cape Elizabeth.

Gov. John Baldacci and Maj. Gen. John W. Libby acknowledged the Dobys’ generosity during a ceremony Tuesday morning in the Hall of Flags at the State House in Augusta.

The $1 million gift will be split evenly by the Maine National Guard Foundation, the Maine chapter of Operation Homefront and the Maine Community Foundation. All of the money must be used within two years.

“Having lived through oppression, the Dobys had a deep appreciation for the values and freedoms we enjoy in this country, and for the close-knit community that defines Maine,” Baldacci said. “They recognized the great cost of protecting our freedoms. They knew the great sacrifices of our soldiers. Their generous support of Maine troops will be a lasting legacy of Anna and Tibor Doby.”

David Farmer, a spokesman for the governor, said the National Guard Foundation will use its money to provide financial aid to guardsmen and their families, to reservists and to active-duty soldiers. Farmer said the money could be used to help with unanticipated costs such as home repairs or medical expenses.

Louis Dorogi of Topsham, who knew the Dobys for more than 40 years, said their political views were forged during the Hungarian Revolution.

The couple married in 1948. A short while later, they opened a medical practice in Budapest, specializing in X-ray technology and internal medicine. Tibor Doby was a doctor. Anna was his receptionist, nurse and accountant.

A few years later, the Dobys found themselves caught up in the revolution against the government and its Soviet-imposed policies.

“Tibor treated multiple casualties at the hospital in Budapest while Anna ran soup kitchens for freedom fighters on the streets of Budapest,” Dorogi said.

They were rounded up as prisoners by Russian soldiers but managed to escape, fleeing into a wooded area.

They were soon captured by a Russian soldier, who took pity on them. He freed them and even gave them a goose to eat, Dorogi said. The Dobys fled to a refugee camp in Austria, where they lived for about a year.

Dorogi said the couple sought political asylum and made it to the United States, where they were placed in a refugee camp in New Jersey. After a while, they were able to find jobs in Connecticut.

Anna worked as a technician at the Yale School of Medicine while her husband taught at Yale University.

In 1960, they moved to Cape Elizabeth. Tibor Doby accepted a job with Mercy Hospital, where he became chief of radiology.

He died in December 1998 at the age of 84. Anna Doby died on Sept. 1, 2009, at the age of 90.

Her estate attorney, Robert Danielson of Portland, said Anna Doby inherited everything when her husband died.

Nearly all of the $1 million that she gave came from the sale of the couple’s home in Cape Elizabeth, Danielson said.

Dorogi, who is Hungarian, said he admired the couple for overcoming the challenges they faced.

“Anna went through many difficult times in her life,” Dorogi said. “She survived the bombing of Budapest, and they lost everything when they were forced to flee Hungary.”

Over time, he said, the Dobys developed an interest in the American soldiers who served their country in Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan.

“Anna knew the results of war and its traumatic effects on the survivors. She wanted to give something back,” Dorogi said. “She was eternally grateful to this country, which gave her and Tibor the chance to start over.”

 

Staff Writer Dennis Hoey can be contacted at 791-6365 or at: [email protected]