Ms. Sari Vester

Quick Facts

SuccessBorn: 09/30/1931, Sopron, Hungary
Spouse: American Businessman

In Hungary
Education: College of Economics, Budapest
Occupation: Accounting at large steel mfg company
Active role in the revolution: NO

In United States of America
Arrival: 1956, Newark, NJ
Education: Degree for Budapest University equivalent to MBA
Occupation: Insurance Business Rating clerk, Showroom Fashion Model
Workplace: Several Major Insurance Brokerage Firms, Los Angeles, California

Awards: Insurance Account Manager of AON

Published personal life story: Degrees of Courage

Born into a middle class family and raised in Sopron until the age of 19, I spent the next 6 years in Budapest, first attending the College of Economics and earning a Red Diploma in Industrial Planning, then working in the accounting department of a large steel manufacturing company until the outbreak of the 1956 patriotic uprising against the country’s Soviet-dictated regime. After its defeat by Soviet intervention I returned to Sopron on November 18th, determined to leave for the West. Hating the oppressive political system we endured before the revolution, there was no hope for a better future now with looming vengeful reprisals to come. Although I didn’t participate in any fighting during the revolution and had nothing to fear, what was there to hold me back? Being single, living in a tiny rented room, owing nothing of value, and stuck in a job without prospect to earn a decent living, I said goodbye to my parents and with the help of a guide my mother hired I ducked under the wire fence at Kophaza and crossed the border to Austria.
I had relatives in Vienna, and after arriving there I applied for asylum in the United States. It was granted and on December 21, 1956 our plane landed in Newark, NJ. Carrying a small suitcase, and knowing only a few words in English, my journey in America thus began. What followed is a short stay in a refugee compound called Camp Kilmer in NJ; eight months living with my sponsors in Manhattan, NY, and working as a showroom fashion model; moving to Los Angeles and starting to work as a rating clerk at Zurich-American Insurance Company; and getting married in 1960 to an American businessman. During the ups and downs of my personal life I kept on working for close to 40 years in the insurance business, retiring as an account manager of AON Corporation in 1996. More details along with the historical events of the most turbulent decades of 20th century Hungary are outlined in my book Degrees of Courage, published in 2012, and available at

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