Alexandria resident Maria Gyuk turned 100 on Sept. 10.
She was born Maria Juvan in 1904 in Salzburg, Austria; and grew up in the shadow of an imposing castle, among cathedrals and fountains, baroque gardens and winding streets. It is a town full of music. As a child, she saw the old Emperor Franz Josef striding by on parade. But she also lived through the bitter time of the first World War.
After high school, Maria moved to Vienna to study art. It was a time of transition from Art Nouveau to Art Deco and some of the leaders of the new style were among her teachers. In Vienna she also learned to love the opera and the theater.
Next she moved to Berlin, Germany. Abstract art, jazz and Bauhaus architecture. She met George Gyuk, a talented Hungarian graphic artist, and was soon married. They had a son, Imre, and were ready to settle into a more domestic lifestyle when the second World War started.
George and Maria moved back to Salzburg to rebuild their lives. In the post-war period George soon established himself as a leading commercial artist in Salzburg. But their spirit of adventure was not quite satisfied, and in their 50s they decided to move to New York. There among the skyscrapers of Manhattan they started yet once more. Their son, Imre, went to college and became a physicist. George worked as a graphic designer until he was in his 80s.
After her husband's death, Maria Gyuk moved to Alexandria to live with her son's family. And on Sept. 11, she celebrated her 100th birthday with a garden party at the home of her son and daughter-in-law, Imre and Nora Gyuk. Neighbors and friends attended, as did four generations of relatives, who came from Austria, California, Chicago and Connecticut. Sophia, the youngest great-grandchild, is only a few months old. There was ample champagne and abundant food reflecting the varied cultural backgrounds of the family. A German band played marches and polkas and Maria danced the waltz. As evening fell, a dazzling display of fireworks completed the event.