Ernest Gobert Szechenyi, 91, a Hungarian count who managed horse breeding farms in Maryland and Montana, died of a stroke Oct. 2 at his home in Naples, Fla.
Mr. Szechenyi was born in Vienna, the son of a count and countess, and was a descendant of the famous Hungarian patriot Count Stefan Szechenyi.
He graduated from a military college and was assigned to an admiral's royal guard in Budapest. During World War II, he served in the cavalry as a major, fighting on the Russian front, and was captured by the Soviets.
His wife sold her jewels to bribe his guards, who allowed him to escape, he later told friends. The couple, disguised as German peasants, drugged their eldest son to keep him from speaking Hungarian during their escape to the West, for fear of betraying their background. After several years in various locations in Europe, the family immigrated to the United States in 1950, settling in the Washington area.
"He had beautiful manners and was imperially slim," said Carson Daly, a goddaughter. "He had the beautiful erect carriage of a man trained in the cavalry and was a very good dancer."
Acquainted with another Hungarian, Countess Margit Szigray Bessenyey, he went to work for her at Mount Aventine Farm in western Charles County, across the Potomac River from Mount Vernon. Bessenyey, the granddaughter of Montana copper king Marcus Daly, also had extensive land holdings and horse breeding farms in western Montana, where Mr. Szechenyi also worked, helping to breed Hungarian horses, including the Shagya-Arabian breed.
He lived at Mount Aventine Farm, near Indian Head, until he retired in 1980 and moved to Naples. He was a Knight of Malta and member of St. William's Catholic Church in Naples.
His first wife, Gabrielle Szirmay Szechenyi, died in 1978. His second wife, Magda Mihalyfy Szechenyi, died in 1984, and a son, Otto Szechenyi, died in 2002.
Survivors include his wife, Hanna Gal Szechenyi of Naples; a son, Dr. Ernest Szechenyi Jr. of Missoula, Mont.; three stepchildren, Janka Heath of Naples and Stowe, Vt., Anthony Thompson of Merritt Island, Fla., and Stowe, and Suzanne Kinder of Naples; a brother; two sisters; and three grandchildren.