Lucy Stensland Laederich, 1944-2019

Lucy Laederich, our longtime AAWE member and friend, and a leading advocate for the rights of Americans abroad, died peacefully on February 1 at her home in Bordeaux.

She was a former AAWE President (1980-81), FAWCO President (1999-2001), and longtime FAWCO US Liaison. Lucy was instrumental in setting up the Americans Abroad Caucus in Congress, and was the motor behind establishing the annual Overseas Americans Week. She also served two terms (2012-2015) as President of the Association of Americans Resident Overseas (AARO).

Lucy was involved in the drive to include overseas Americans in the US Census and, after 2001, particularly focused on election reform legislation. She participated in Overseas Americans Weeks beginning in 2002 and went twice to Washington to discuss the dangerous unintended effects of FATCA on Americans with foreign spouses and partners. A Vice Chair of the World Federation of Americans Abroad (WFAA) in the early 1990s, she was also Vice Chair of the Alliance for Military and Overseas Voting Rights (AMOVR).

Originally from NYC, Lucy held degrees from the University of Saskatchewan and the University of California at Berkeley, and pursued her studies at the University of Washington where she completed her Ph.D. in sociology and French – all but dissertation. Lucy moved to France in 1970 with a Fulbright research grant. She was a mother and grandmother of dual-national children, and worked as a freelance translator for many years.

AAWE Member Sallie Chaballier says: “Lucy’s ego was in inverse proportion to her charisma. Lucy was about us; she did what she did for all of us, which only made her even more charismatic.” Member Nan de Labaudère adds: “Lucy was a force of nature. There’s no other way to describe her. She was so smart, so witty, so upbeat. She was an inspiration and a mentor to so many people.”

Compiled by Jane Mobille

AARO-FAWCO “Overseas Americans Week” 2015

In all, 9 people went to Washington in March 2015 representing AARO and FAWCO: AARO President Lucy Laederich, Vice President Ellen Lebelle, former Tax Chair John Fredenberger, Asia Director Ross Feingold and Kathleen Mistry, now living in Washington, were there throughout a week that featured over 50 meetings, essentially with Congressional offices. They also met with reporters from the Wall Street Journal and The New York Times and conducted several conference calls after the week to make up for meetings cancelled due to snow!

From the AARO archives

There are two decisions I’ve never regretted: one was accepting to run for President of AAWE back in the late 70s, and the other was accepting on the condition that Lucy Laederich be First Vice President. Lucy and I were already good friends, and I had come to admire the many qualities of this dynamic young woman juggling volunteer work with raising two young children while living quite a distance from Paris, and working part time. She was eager to help the American community and worked tirelessly advocating voting and citizenship rights for Americans abroad. She became President of AAWE, and then went on to reap high honors for her work with FAWCO and AARO. She will be sorely missed by the American community of France and of other countries as well, and we at AAWE are indeed fortunate to have known this beautiful, exceptional person and to have been able to share her goals and work alongside her.

Sally Benoist

How lucky we American women abroad were to have Lucy! She could have turned her talents to some other cause, but from the time we met in the ‘70s, before she was President of AAWE, until virtually the end of her life, Lucy committed her free time to pulling together, maintaining, and often leading so many American associations (AAWE, FAWCO, the US Census working group, Democrats Abroad, AARO). Her work with FAWCO and to improve US voting laws went on for decades. Most of us drop in and drop out of volunteer work, but Lucy was simply dedicated to the common good, and she never stopped. Her last words to me before she was hospitalized were “I will fix that” – and she did.

She brought to these causes her talent for inclusion, her warmth, conscientiousness, and unfailing patience and good will. I never saw her lose patience—she could be dismayed by a setback but never angry. Those same talents made her a wonderful friend, and of course she had many. After all-day FAWCO meetings in some capital city, it was in Lucy’s hotel room that we always congregated to laugh and sum up because she was eager to continue, and she had the bottle of Scotch. Later, her door was always open wherever she happened to be, in Paris, Bordeaux, or Washington, DC. She was a caring listener, and she always had time. We owe her, and we will miss her.

Kathleen de Carbuccia

In Lucy’s words:

I am most proud of achieving two related things:
Working (with so many others) to get overseas Americans included in the 2002 Help America Vote Act and making the improvements that led to the 2010 Military and Overseas Voter Empowerment (MOVE) Act.
Being invited to be an official observer for two years as the Uniform Law Commission drafted and finally approved the Uniform Military and Overseas Voter Act.

From Inspiring Women: Women who Persist - Part 1, Fall 2018

Lucy photographed by My-Linh Kunst   Tribute from AAWE News March 2019

How did the Festival d’Ambleny come into being? Well, it began with an informal conversation between my husband Yvan, mayor of Ambleny at the time, and our Dutch jazz musician neighbor. Their idea was to bring jazz bands to a rural area where jazz was rarely heard, offering the community a concert performed by professionals.
Our neighbor went on to say that he had numerous jazz contacts in The Hague and would be more than willing to bring a band to Ambleny. Yvan, on the other hand, would pursue the difficult task of organizing and financing such a project. Funding came through public organizations, private contributions, and local businesses. Thanks to the support and enthusiasm of many volunteers, the first concert was held in June 2009 and featured The Hague Jazz Project, a seventeen-member-strong big band, all housed by friends and neighbors and fed by two amazing cooks from The Hague! The concerts were performed at the Château de Vic-sur-Aisne, and in Ambleny’s Salle des Fêtes. The surprisingly good turn-out encouraged us to continue. With increasing audiences, the Festival has featured singers and jazzmen hailing from Holland, France, the United States, Brazil, and the Caribbean.
This year’s concerts, to be held June 22-23, will feature The Hague Jazz Project, Trio Peter Beets, and French jazz singer Camille Bertault. The year 2018 has a special significance. Ambleny will celebrate its 10th edition of Jazz’N Ambleny, France will celebrate the 100th anniversary of the end of WWI, and, at the same time, the arrival of jazz (ragtime), brought to France by African-American soldiers.
Ambleny is a nice, quiet village, set in rural Picardy. In the center of the village two historical monuments sit proudly: a XII century gothic church and donjon. During WWI, Soissons and surrounding villages were targeted by extensive bombing, leaving in the aftermath total destruction and devastation. Ambleny wasn’t spared. The church and donjon were left in piles of stone and rubble. After the war, the villagers took on the lengthy task of rebuilding and restoring.  
There will be many events commemorating this anniversary. Emotions will be strongly felt as there is not a family in Ambleny who hasn’t suffered the loss of a soldier or civilian family member. The Military Cemetery in Ambleny bears witness to the extensive battles which took place in the surrounding areas, by honoring the graves of 12,000 fallen soldiers.
In 1917, French and Allied armies suffered tremendous losses and were in urgent need of more troops. Among the first Americans to arrive in France was First Lieutenant James Reese Europe, a famous New York jazz musician, who was assigned to the all-black 369th Infantry Regiment. He was asked by his commanding officer, Colonel William Hayward, to form a military band as part of his combat unit; not an easy task, but he finally succeeded, going as far as Puerto Rico to recruit black musicians. Most of his musicians came from Harlem, Manhattan, and Brooklyn.
By early 1918, it became evident that due to the rules of racial segregation, the US Army had no intention of sending African-Americans to combat. They remained behind to perform service and supply duties. The French Etat-Major was shocked at the disregard the US Army had toward its African-American soldiers. By exercising heavy pressure on General Pershing, the 369th RIUS was finally incorporated into the French army. The war-weary French and Allied armies enthusiastically welcomed the fresh American troops. Now part of the 93rd Division, the men of the 369th fought under the French flag in American uniforms, wearing the French Adrian helmet and shouldering French arms.
The 93rd was noted for its part in the victories at the Chaligny battlefields, and its defensive stands at Château-Thierry and Belleau Wood. The 369th fought valiantly alongside their French comrades, spending 191 days in combat. The unit received the Croix de Guerre, saw 171 of its soldiers receive the Légion d’Honneur, and deplored 1500 killed or wounded. It never retreated, and foremostly, was the first Allied unit to reach the Rhine River six days after the Armistice and Germany’s defeat. It was so feared that the Germans named it the “Hellfighters”! The Hellfighters were very much appreciated by the French public, who attended their concerts in several cities, including concerts given at Théâtre des Champs Elysées and Jardin des Tuileries in Paris.
Sad to say, in February 1919, the 369th Infantry Regiment was not allowed to join the official victory parade alongside the other returning troops. It was, however, honored with a parade up New York City’s Fifth Avenue: thousands of spectators lined the streets to watch nearly 3000 soldiers victoriously march toward Harlem. In 1996 President Clinton awarded posthumously the Purple Heart for acts of bravery to Henry Johnson, soldier of the 369th Division, for saving his unit from German attack; in 2015 President Obama awarded Henry Johnson the Medal of Honor. In Europe, as well as being revered as soldiers, the Harlem Hellfighters have left a universal legacy that goes unrivaled to this day, an immeasurable, immemorial gift...the gift of JAZZ.
Irene Checler

AAWE News

Your clubhouse in your mailbox!

The News is AAWE’s quarterly print magazine. The News seeks to gather and reflect the dynamism of AAWE. Each issue involves the contribution of over 50 members, including the News staff, writers, photographers, and artists.

The Mission of AAWE News is to:

  • Help members to know their Association, as well as to know their fellow members
  • Explore the heart of bicultural life
  • Stimulate involvement in our community
  • Keep members up-to-date by covering events and initiatives
  • Involve as many members as possible
  • Serve as a platform for creative expression

In the words of our Editor: "The News is a platform to share our talent...and insights, and projects, and experiences, and ideas. And it is on paper! Yes. With a shelf life, a distinct smell, and glossy pages to touch and turn. The News is a feast for the eyes that doesn't involve incessant blue back light, but rather the soft light of a dove grey Paris sky. And may I add that you can read it safely in the bathtub, and access it deep in a metro tunnel?!"

 

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