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".