Born in 1936 in Budapest, Hungary, Stephen (Istvan) Harmath defected to Canada in 1956, following the Hungarian Uprising of that year. A glassblower by profession, Harmath and his wife immigrated to Chicago in 1963 to work in the cathode ray tube industry. In Chicago, Harmath became active with the local Hungarian community, as well as the Republican Party, culminating in a 2006 visit to the White House, under the administration of George W. Bush. In 2003, Harmath retired at the age of sixty-eight after working for a succession of small businesses pertaining to television tubes and other glass products. Harmath also wrote a column in Amerikai Magyarság, a weekly Hungarian newspaper published in Canada.