by: Bertrand Huchberger
I'm now in San Francisco and unable to attend the 9 October gathering to honor Andy, but I'll be there in spirit with the following I'd like to share with you about our late dear friend.
Although we did not know each other well at the Naval Academy, Andy and I go back to the early 80s when we met in Geneva. At the time we discussed my interest in establishing a technology brokerage firm there. He actively encouraged and supported me in my efforts to do just that. In fact he offered for me to stay at his home for several weeks while I laid the ground work for a consultancy. After 25 years of consulting during which I could always count on him for advice, I shut down my firm to join another group doing something similar. Andy was there again and available to provide counsel. Our personal, social and professional interactions spanned over more than 30 years. During this time, he was always ready, willing and able to help me, and others for that matter, resolve any problem large or small, always coming up with imaginative solutions…with a "why not" instead of a "why" approach. Also, he was a "great connector" to wit, his creation of the Burlamaqui Society 25 years ago that brought together people of diverse backgrounds to debate current political and social issues in the context of the Declaration of Independence's "… inalienable right to individual liberty and pursuit of happiness..". Under Andy's aegis, the evenings I participated in these gatherings were always lively and thought-provoking.
When I introduced him to Heidi, my new wife, they immediately connected on many topics including the political front - Heidi agitating for Republicans and Andy on behalf of Democrats. He and Chantal welcomed us to his in-laws' home in the Savoie where French Resistance were active during WWII. There, he detailed their exploits in the manner Andy was wont to do. We cherish this visit as truly memorable in the early days of our engagement. Also, we will treasure the last time we were with Andy in Geneva a few weeks before he died during which we pursued a lively discussion on religion over dinner.
I shall miss him very much as a friend, classmate and and tireless advocate for overseas Americans.
by: Bertrand Huchberger
On August 30th 2012, the Class of 1962 lost a dear friend and colleague, Andy Sundberg who died following surgery. Bracketed by an uncle in the Class of 1921, a brother in Class of 1968, and a nephew in the Class of 1996, at Navy Andy was a brilliant advocate for change and a staunch competitor on the soccer field. He was an outstanding student and linguist, stood third in the class, and had a unique ability to explain complex ideas. At Navy he was on the GE College Bowl team beating Army in 1960 and captained the team in 1961. He founded the Naval Academy Foreign Affairs (NAVFAC) Conference that continues today. He had a phenomenal ability to bring people together and a collegial leadership style that focused on the human touch
The year after graduation, Andy won a Rhodes Scholarship and attended Oxford University where he earned his 'blue' in lacrosse against Cambridge three times. He served as a surface warfare officer in the Cuban Missile crises before being diagnosed with a career-ending condition. Receiving a medical discharge in 1968, Andy moved to Geneva. He became an economic and business consultant and was active in Russia after the cold war and Vietnam reconstruction.
Aside from his beloved wife Chantal, daughters Fanny and Nancy and granddaughter Manon, Andy's passion was politics. He actively represented the interests of the six million Americans living abroad and founded of the American Children’s Citizens Rights League and American Citizens Abroad which now has members in 90 countries. He was on a first-name basis with many government leaders throughout the world and in1988, he was drafted as 'favorite son' candidate for President by the Democratic Party contingent of Overseas Americans. In 1995, Andy co founded an Internet Service Provider that was later sold giving him recognition as a leading entrepreneur in Geneva.
While in Geneva, he organized the Adam Smith Society, the Burlamaqui Club, and the Overseas American Academy as well as a series of town hall meetings, throughout Switzerland, addressing the interests of overseas Americans. He still found time to develop micro-finance projects in partnership with African diaspora groups in Europe.
Andy was a true American patriot, entrepreneur and citizen of the world. He was one of those extraordinary people who's many contributions to world peace and global understanding will never be fully known. He will be sorely missed by classmates, family and an enormous number of friends and colleagues throughout the world.
by: Alex Kotchoubey
Andy and his family hold a very special place in my wife’s family. Andy was a classmate of my father-in-law at the Naval Academy and a factor in my parents-in-law decision to move to Geneva. In that way, I owe Andy a debt of gratitude for making it possible through a series of serendipitous events to meet and marry my wife, Anna. So many years later, here we are living in Geneva, too and I would like to think that in some way it was thanks to a friendship that started between Andy and my father-in-law, Bert in the late 1950s that I have the privilege to write this brief tribute.
Several years ago my then eight year old son, Constantin, when to visit Andy with his grandfather Bert and he was regaled by Andy about stories of ghosts and the wonders of space exploration. I am not sure what one subject had to do with the other but when Constantin was asked if he wanted to explore space, he answered Andy that he would rather stay on earth as he was scared of wormholes and Black holes.
In his book, Outliers, the author Malcolm Gladwell speaks of the importance of the 10,000 hour commitment that so many successful people endure to achieve their greatness. Regardless of the validity of this argument, I would like to think that this time commitment might also apply to the concept of six degrees of separation, social networking or just plain coincidence. Let me explain. I believe that 10,000 hours is the time commitment necessary to arrive at a stage in one’s social development where you can make the necessary connections between people you have met along the way to weave together the fabric of one’s social network.
When my father-in-law introduced me to Andy and to the Burlamaqui Society, I was happily surprised to discover that a number of the now famous Friends of Andy (or FoAs) I had met already in my years working in Moscow, London and New York were also members of the Society. Coincidence or 10,000 hours?
Andy’s kindness, empathy and curiosity were the gifts that he gave to me and perhaps to each of us who had the privilege to know him. His legacy was that he was the accidental godfather of six degrees of separation, or the original social network.
Andy, wherever you are, thank you and I know you are now working hard to keep us safe from wormholes and Black holes and tonight my son might be a little more willing to consider the idea of space exploration, knowing you are somewhere working behind the scenes to keep us safe and well connected.