Hoboken entrepeneur and activist

A celebration of the life of long-time Hoboken resident Stephen Kilnisan, 68, took place Feb. 1. He passed away Jan.  27 due to complications arising from end-stage renal failure. Stephen was born in Budapest, Hungary. At the age of six, he fled his native Budapest at the height of the 1956 Revolution. Evading the advancing Soviet tanks, he and his parents trekked 100 miles by foot, through the fields and forests of the Hungarian countryside until they reached safety in Austria over a week later. They subsequently immigrated to Hoboken and within several years, through diligent saving and sweat equity, acquired the Hoboken Dairy Queen, which in the 1970s under his management became one of the first retail outlets on the East Coast to offer video rentals. A life-long entrepreneur and community activist, Stephen created a variety of businesses reflecting his varied interests from jewelry making to e-commerce to comic books. In the 1980s, working with a local business group, he helped spearhead the revitalization of Hoboken’s First Street as a viable commercial district. After earning a degree in gemology, he opened a small boutique on First Street, specializing in custom-made jewelry, eventually expanding operations to New York City’s diamond district. In the latter end of his career, he returned to his first love, comic books, establishing a comic book emporium in the Neumann Leathers Building. A gifted raconteur, Stephen was working at the time of his death on a memoir chronicling his early years as an immigrant, entitled “The Boy King of Hoboken.” He was a graduate of Stevens Academy and attended Stevens Institute of Technology on full academic scholarship. He leaves behind his wife Maureen, his mother Eva Kilnisan of Hoboken and cousins George Jambor of Chicago, Ill. and Teresa Kilnisan of Budapest, Hungary. Services arranged by the Lawton-Turso Funeral Home, Hoboken.