by: Tony Hinder
I first met Andy over 40 years ago when we were both working at the Battelle Institute in Carouge. Although my memories of this period are now rather vague, I distinctly recall Andy’s warm and caring attitude, as well as his strong political convictions which I largely shared. We lost contact in the mid seventies, when I was posted to Morocco and then to Brussels, although our common friends kept me abreast of his various exploits, political and other.
I also seem to recall seeing him again on a couple of occasions at reunions of ex-Battellistes after I returned to Geneva in the early eighties. Then in 2007, an ex-Burlie – Tony Murdoch – called me up to say that he’d mentioned my name to Andy, who asked him to invite me to your next meeting. It was great seeing Andy again after all these years and meeting you all.
I subsequently became a fervent fan of the Burlamaqui evenings and I believe I have attended every one over the past 3 years or so, except on the odd occasion when I was travelling. I have to say how much I admired Andy’s sense of organisation and all the hard work he put in to make these dinners such a success. I also enjoyed all of the e-mails and press articles he sent out on a regular basis to keep us up to date on events both in the US and the wider world.
While we certainly owe it to Andy to keep the Burlamaqui Club alive, it will be very difficult to replace him. By the way, I’m very much a squirrel when it comes to hoarding e-mails and other documents and I have kept in my archives all of the “APS” mails he has sent out over the past 3 years
I would be delighted to pass these on to anyone of you who are interested. A word of warning, though: there are 135 of these mails totalling over 14 MB !
So thanks a million Andy for your friendship, for keeping us up to date on what’s going on in the world, for giving us the opportunity to listen to so many interesting presentations and to debate often controversial issues in a relaxed and constructive atmosphere over an excellent meal.
You will be fondly remembered.
by: Roy Damary
Do you recall Andy’s turn of phrase when he made a suggestion to you?
It was “Roy or Gene or Mike, why don’t you…..”
One of the suggestions of this evening was that we were recommended to remember a phrase of Andy’s which particularly affected our lives. For me, it was “Roy, why don’t you go to the Harvard Business School?” So I did.
Often at our Burlamaqui evenings Andy would introduce me as his first boss. Andy did not do “having a boss”. How on earth he got into the Navy I cannot imagine.
Allow me to introduce a feminine dimension. At Battelle, as Tony Hinder may well remember, Andy and I had a secretary called Carolyn, a Canadian.
She wrote of Andy: “His background was considerable but he was never a braggart. I always appreciated that about Andy. I remember his warm blue eyes and his smile. And he was funny. I often left my office window open, even in February. He would joke he was entering my igloo and he would ask if I would like to wear his parka. We would laugh at that.”
Let us remember Carolyn’s words when remembering Andy, “We would laugh at that”.
by: Paddy Murphy
I was one of the first join the Burlamaqui Society in 1995. John McCaffrey was my sponsor. He was not just a friend of Andy but was related through marriage. The number of participants was few in those days and I'm sure Gene Schulman, Howard Hornfeld, Art Lieber, Bruce Littman and others can relate great stories from those early days. I particularly remember the evenings when we dressed formally in dress suits with bow ties, going to exotic dining places, meetings in the garden at Andy's home, dinner at the old ghostly great house in Begnins, music recitals, joke nights etc. The list goes on.
Andy was a charismatic and inspirational character. He was a prolific reader and knowledgeable about almost everything. He always made himself available for a chat or discussion on any topic.
While we acknowledge him as the main driver for the Burlamaqui Society he made sure everyone participated and had an opportunity to add their point of view. He created one of the best networking organizations in Geneva and helped many people to settle in the region where they knew few other people when they arrived.
He will be sadly missed. May he rest in peace.
by: Mike Horner
As his friends know well, Andy had many stories and one that was very important to him came from an incident early in his life.
According to this story Andy was energetically arguing with some fellow schoolchildren and the argument was at an impasse. His wise teacher suggested to Andy a technique which he then used for the rest of his life. The technique she recommended is to raise yourself mentally above the arguing group and look down on the group including yourself and imagine some way out of the impasse. Not everyone can do this but Andy was a master. His tools included puns, scatological jokes, God stories or suddenly changing the topic completely.
People who truly master this technique are sometimes known as Big People and we have all met at least one of them.
Big People have big ideas and imagine big projects but very few get to implement their ideas in actual projects.
Big People have strong motivations and are often self serving as they seek power, riches or fame. Very few are motivated for society as a whole and not for themselves.
Big projects can be short term or long term. Very few Big People take seriously the idea that their projects will be judged seven generations hence.
As an FOA I observed that Andy was such a Big Person who actually implemented his big ideas with goals to benefit others and looking a long way ahead.
I hope he is looking down on us as his teacher recommended all those years ago as we try to get out of the apparent impasse that so depressed him in his last few years.
by: Matthew Stevenson
When I moved to Switzerland in the 1990s, the American senator and former presidential candidate, George McGovern, told me: “There is one American that you have to meet in Geneva. That’s Andy Sundberg.” I did not met him until a sad occasion, much like the one here today.
For a memorial service in Geneva for Secretary of State Cyrus Vance, Senator McGovern had sent both to Andy and me a tribute that he asked be read aloud in the American Church.
Andy and I arrived at the service clutching the same letter. I introduced myself to him. There was an awkward moment when we both realized that we had been sent on the same mission. Finally I said to Andy, “Why don’t we both give the same eulogy, and let’s see if anyone is listening?”
His response was that joyful, belly laugh that all of us can hear so clearly. From that shared laughter on, Andy and I were friends—a friendship that spanned lunches and dinners, conversations about presidential elections, thousands of e-mails (his more than mine), and those phone calls wondering why I was always so late to one of his luncheons.
Most of all, because his experience abroad was mine, I responded to Andy the expatriate, the American who was making a life in a foreign land.
Even if he grew up in Japan and Germany, we shared American childhoods. We had the same heroes—Thomas Paine and John F. Kennedy—read the same books and remembered the same elections.
For all I know perhaps we both romanticized the American past—the Bill of Rights, the Gettysburg Address—and demonized the darker present: water-boarding or the shadows of conspiracy on the Grassy Knoll.
I never grew tired of Andy’s stories that linked the America of my reading to the person who was so generously serving me wine, poking at his fire, going to look for more potato chips.
As a boy of about ten in 1950s Washington, D.C., Andy and his sister walked into the office of the Secretary of State, Dean Acheson. Can’t you see the scene? Andy and Barbara, who is here today, walking unannounced into the State Department, asking to see Secretary Acheson. Did the ten-year-old Andy, on entering the large office, ask: “Mr. Secretary, you don’t really believe this line that we’re being fed about the Cold War, now do you?”
As a midshipman at the U.S. Naval Academy in January 1961, Andy attended one of John F. Kennedy’s inaugural balls. I never heard that Andy cut in on Jackie Kennedy (although I would not be surprised), but I do know that he was a favorite son of the New Frontier.
In the entrance to Andy’s and Chantal’s lovely and warm home in Onex, there is a signed photograph of President Kennedy, looking weary on the campaign trail. To me that photograph is a link between Andy and the idealism of the 1960s.
During the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962 and later in the Vietnam War, Andy was a serving officer in the U.S. Navy—one reason he equated Guantanamo Bay with hallowed ground, not rendition or “unlawful enemy combatants.”
In the Vietnam War, in the waters of the Tonkin Gulf, Andy had a chance encounter with John McCain, later a U.S. Presidential candidate, then a navy pilot on his way to bomb Communist positions in the North.
Andy always thought that in October 1967 he was the last American to speak with McCain before he was shot down over Hanoi and held in prison for six years. Theirs was only a fleeting exchange, over a garbled radio.
McCain’s captivity in the North led him to the House, Senate, and a run for the presidency—as Andy used to say, another bad resolution from the Tonkin Gulf. How we all wish that history had called the other member of that exchange to the U.S. Congress.
Since the conversations that I had with Andy touched on American history, I would be remiss, in this farewell, if I did not recall a few of those in whom he found inspiration, that guided so much of his work with Americans at home and abroad.
He especially admired those American figures with a Swiss connection, as so much of Andy’s life and work can be seen in bringing together what he called “the sister republics.”
Andy loved recalling that our own Founding Father, Albert Gallatin, went from Geneva to the U.S. Treasury, and balanced the books of Revolutionary America. How much nicer did he like that engagement than that of later Americans, so intent on bringing the U.S. Treasury to Switzerland.
Andy loved and admired Thomas Jefferson. With others from the Burlamaqui Society, he and I went together to Jefferson’s Virginia home, Monticello—that American Parthenon of reason, enlightenment, and fine wines. To Andy’s endless delight, Jefferson incorporated from the writings of Jean-Jacques Burlamaqui, also from Geneva, the idea that an independent America should not have just “life and liberty,” but embrace the “pursuit of happiness.”
In his life and work, with his friends and family, with those he knew for a lifetime or had just met over lunch, Andy was the embodiment of the spirit in the Declaration of Independence—another reason we never wanted him, as Abraham Lincoln said of representative government at Gettysburg, “to perish from this earth.” Let me close with other words from Lincoln, that melancholic optimist of the American soul. In a life so memorable to us all, Andy gave us the “last full measure of his devotion.”
by: Mark Stenzler
I remember the weekend when I met Andy. It was sometime in the summer of 1989, I think, at a château on the Lac d'Annecy. The event was organized by ACA and featured not only a lecture by the former President of Brandeis University, Morris Abram, along with a Sunday morning baroque music concert, but also a warm and welcoming introduction by Andy Sundberg to all of the new attendees. Andy introduced me to ACA and I soon became the ACA country contact for the Swiss-German regions of Switzerland, a position that lasted until 2005, when I moved back to the Geneva area. I attended two Overseas American Weeks in Washington, DC with Andy leading the charge up Capitol Hill. Andy shared so many stories with us during those weeks.
Otherwise, my contact with Andy was relatively infrequent until I returned to Divonne in 2005, having gone through a separation, after 16 years of marriage and living in Canton Zurich. I lived in Divonne, France and rekindled the relationship with Andy when we regularly bumped into one another at the Sunday morning Divonne open-air market. Andy knew that I was going through a very tough time.
He introduced me to Burlamaqui. He introduced me to all of you, for which I continue to be forever grateful. He connected me with Matthew, who has been a repeat guest on my Bern-based radio program, always sharing stories about travel, politics and writing. Matthew connected me with Horacio Méndez Carreras, the renowned human-rights lawyer and former Argentine Minister for Human Rights, with whom I conducted a one-hour audio documentary on the atrocities of The Dirty War, for Radio Bern. He connected me with Danny and Mike Gordy, with whom we have shared our common wicked sense of humor.
He became a friend to my then eight year-old daughter, Hannah, who he charmed over a chocolat chaud, one Sunday morning in Divonne. When I told Hannah, some eight years later, of Andy's passing, my now sixteen year-old daughter, who may have met Andy only once or twice, responded, "He was a very nice man." She had still remembered that warm encounter over a hot cup of cocoa.
Andy was like the hub of a " wheel of association", I will call it "Andy's Wheel", with dozens, hundreds, or was it thousands of spokes, each one making a connection to another intelligent and creative personality, each of whom was responsible for making the wheel spin around with great dynamism. I am also glad to have added one or two spokes to "Andy's Wheel": most prominently the folk musician, Rod MacDonald. Andy had wanted Rod to write a song about the plight of the Overseas American. I have recently spoken with Rod about this.
In the past couple of years, whenever I called Andy on his cell phone, he always answered the phone by saying, " Marcus Aurelius", an generous inference that I somehow resembled the Roman Emperor and "philosopher king". I decided to investigate some of the wisdom shared and espoused by this well-respected leader. Here are just two of his quotes:
"Very little is needed to make a happy life; it is all within yourself, in your way of thinking. "
"The object of life is not to be on the side of the majority, but to escape finding oneself among the ranks of the insane."
These words sound a lot like things Andy would have said and believed. I would like to raise my glass to Andy, who resembled much more than I, the present day "Marcus Aurelius".
by: Jon McLin
The paradox of Andy’s life is that while it was animated by a passionate American patriotism, he lived in the U.S. for only a small portion of it. Born in New Jersey, he grew up in a military family, finishing grammar school in Japan and high school in Germany. A graduate of the Naval Academy, he served as a naval officer on destroyers in the Caribbean during the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962 and in the Gulf of Tonkin during the Vietnam War in 1967-68. In 1968 he moved to Geneva, Switzerland and lived there until his sudden death this year.
His consuming cause of these last forty-plus years was the defense of the interests of overseas American citizens vis-à-vis Washington. I first got to know him in the 1970s, when he was campaigning to change a feature of citizenship legislation (so-called “Cinderella” clause) under which young Americans whose families were living overseas risked losing their citizenship unknowingly, unless they resided in the U.S. for a certain number of years within a certain age bracket. My daughter fell into this category. This action succeeded; the law was changed. He then founded an organization, American Citizens Abroad (americansabroad.org), to represent the interests of overseas Americans on a range of issues including voting rights and modalities; social security and Medicare; representation; and taxation. The ACA now has members in over 90 countries.
His international business consultancy took him to many parts of the world and exposed him to a variety of issues. He also launched and brought to market one of the first internet service providers in the Geneva area. But he was energized more by a concern for peace and justice, politics and public policy than by business. He helped create the Swiss national chapters of both the U.S. Democratic and Republican parties. He was a member of the Democratic National Committee from 1981-89. In 1988 he was a favorite-son presidential candidate in the overseas Democratic Party primary, coming in third after having won the vote in five countries. The aim of this campaign was to call attention to issues and policies affecting overseas American citizens.
He also created and chaired with seemingly effortless grace and wit an English-language dinner discussion group (all-male, to the amusement or consternation of many wives), called the Burlamaqui Society. Jean-Jacques Burlamaqui was an eighteenth century Genevese philosophe who is credited with having originated the phrase “the pursuit of happiness”, used by Jefferson in the Declaration of Independence. The topics of these discussions reflected the wide range of his interests: history, politics, religion, humor, music. He maintained this and his other interlocking worldwide networks through an aggressive use of the internet to circulate a huge amount of material on these and other topics.
He had a seemingly endless capacity for indignation and outrage in the face of injustice, especially injustice in government policy. At the same time, his many roles as convener and organizer were always marked by a sense of fun. He once said that there must be something to the idea of reincarnation, since this life of his had been like a sabbatical.
Unfortunately his diligent efforts to bring about changes in U.S. policy towards overseas Americans have not borne much fruit, at least not on the scale of his ambitions. There is still no representation in Congress, still no focal point for overseas American affairs within the Executive Branch, and little if any progress in changing the perception of the general U.S. public that overseas citizens are on the whole “fat cats” of questionable loyalty, motivated mainly by the desire to cheat on taxes. In recent years, especially in tax policy, he perceived with some justification that there had been a drift in Washington attitudes towards overseas Americans from indifference to hostility, despite the role overseas citizens play in a globalized world in representing U.S. economic and cultural interests. In these circumstances Andy’s caring voice became shriller. His frustration was visible that the “city on the hill”, the idealized U.S. polity of his hopes, was not living up to expectations.
Ironically, within days of his death one of the potentially most significant of his initiatives came to fruition: the publication of the report of a Working Group that organized a series of Town Hall Meetings held in different Swiss cities earlier in 2012 (www.amiswg.org). Catalyzed in large part by tax-related developments, this broad-gauged and impassioned review of how various U.S. policies impact citizens abroad is aimed at belatedly getting these issues on the radar screens of Washington policy-makers. Andy was a moving force behind this exercise. Its outcome may be considered his memorial.
He is succeeded by Chantal, his French-born wife of over forty years; two daughters; and one granddaughter.
by: John King
I am proud to be known as a FoA! There were legions of them since Andy was widely known and warmly thought of. And he had the rare knack of making you feel like you were the most important of his friends. I certainly felt that way.
But Andy and I shared a special bond. We were both graduates in the same year, 1962, of United States academies – he of the Naval Academy in Annapolis, I of the Military Academy at West Point. We often compared the unusual experience of attending these two institutions and the effect they had on us. Amazingly, they were very different. I was Mr. Conformity. He was Mr. Non-conformity. But we both made it through, and the experience importantly shaped our lives. Together we informally constituted Geneva’s Army-Navy Club. Unfortunately, however, his side kept winning the annual football rivalry. But our Club stuck firmly together, and at his initiative we even expanded it to other graduates living in Switzerland.
Apart from his amazing warmth as a human being, the thing that struck me the most about Andy was his unshakeable integrity. He fought tirelessly for an America that would be true to the words of its founding documents, an America with equality and justice for all. He was no fool, however, and fully realized that the country has never been, isn’t, and probably never will be capable of fulfilling those noble promises. But that didn’t deter him one bit. Given that we were all recipients of the daily flow of “Andy-grams” that have now sadly ceased, we all knew this. But it was essential to be reminded. The Burlamaqui Society, which he founded, was yet another way to carry his message forward and to multiply it through our own resources.
Andy is no longer with us, and I feel the loss as keenly as the rest of you. I believe we can honor his memory and his life in no better way than by perpetuating this Society. As Jean-Jacques Burlamaqui so clearly said, we have the right to pursue happiness. Just as clearly, Andy has defined it for us through his ceaseless work for a better world. It is up to us to take it from there.
by: William Westermeyer
Like many, many others, I too am proud to be an FoA, Friend of Andy. I was introduced to the Burlamaqui Society, and to its founder, Andy Sundberg, by another friend and Burlamaqui devotee, Alan Thomas. Although unaware of Andy’s great interest in, and promotion of, effective government when I attended my first "pursuit of happiness" dinner debate, in subsequent dinners and through the emails I started receiving from him it soon became obvious that his interests included not only effective government but a wide variety of other topics as well. Our many mutual interests led to a friendship and some wonderful discussions that I will greatly miss.
I have created an email subdirectory where I regularly file the many messages I receive from Andy. In reviewing it recently I was surprised to see that it contained some 733 messages. Even this sizeable number is almost certainly far less than I actually received from him over the years. I have endeavored to read a good many of the articles contained in these emails, but how could anyone keep up with that steady flow from Andy! His interests were catholic, ranging from all things dealing with Americans abroad to politics, religion, war and peace, human rights, citizenship, history, fine arts, and more. Perhaps notoriously, the IRS and its increasingly irrational treatment of Americans living overseas were often featured. Diving back into the subjects these emails address now, I feel a profound sadness and a deep sense of loss that this inspiring man and friend is no longer around to stimulate and challenge us.
At both the Burlamaqui Society dinners and through his distribution of all those emails, Andy encouraged his many friends and acquaintances to think. Many of his messages ended with the questions “what do you think about this?” and “what would you be willing to do about this?” He spurred us to think, to act, and to make a difference and, finally, to live up to the ideals of Jean-Jacques Burlamaqui. It would be a fitting tribute to Andy if we did our best to follow his advice.
A few years after I met Andy, I had the honor to be inducted into another association that Andy created, the Overseas American Academy. Why me? I’m not entirely sure, but it gives me a warm feeling that someone that I hold in as high esteem as Andy would think to include me as a Fellow in this august group. Like the Burlamaqui Society itself, I hope the OAA will survive as a legacy to Andy’s intelligence, insight, and humanity.
by: Helen Stubbs
We each have a drop of rain
That falls to Earth on a given day.
Some fall on the ground
And slide between rocks
And hide themselves away.
Yours did not.
Yours fell into a stream that raced down the mountainside,
Bouncing with energy,
Twinkling with laughter,
Leaping from rock to rock
And from place to place.
Then, as streams do, its pace slowed
As it grew to a river.
Your river was graceful, gentle and clear.
A happy meander that belied a sense of purpose.
It touched the lives of many that it passed,
Gave them pause for thought and cause for joy.
Yours was a river
Whose level was constant,
Whose force was discreet,
And whose current was strong.
It carried within it an accumulation of tales,
Stories of adventure, places seen and things done,
Never losing the playfulness of the stream it had been.
Now that your river has ebbed into the sea,
Those tales will spread out across the oceans,
Borne by the waves to distant lands,
As you once were.
Much love, see you tomorrow,