Remembering Ambassador George R. Andrews
(1932-2010) one year later
by Luke Slemeck
In memory of my second father, loving husband of Helga, proud father of Christina and Courtenay, grandfather of Sebastien and friend of every dog and animal everywhere. A man who lived and enjoyed a rich, rewarding and fulfilling life that touched every continent on Earth.
U.S. Ambassador George R. Andrews of Baltimore, Md., died one year ago this month. George was born in Havana, Cuba, February 26, 1932, as the son of a U.S. diplomat. He had a very international upbringing in Japan, Panama, Chile, England, Poland and France.
He graduated from Princeton with a degree from the Woodrow Wilson School in 1953 and was a member of the Colonial Club. He proceeded to get his master’s degree from the University of Strasbourg, where his father was stationed as the consul general. He joined the U.S. Foreign Service as a consular officer in Hamburg, Germany, helping rebuild the country and relations after the war.
It is possible that he took the job too seriously as he did meet and marry his beloved Helga von Levern Schroeder—in spite of himself and the glass of red wine he accidentally spilled on her. It was probably the best spill of his life. George and Helga’s first daughter was born in Hamburg.
George served in Paris as a consular officer from 1956 to 1957 and political officer from 1958 to 1959, beginning an undying love for the city.
He returned to Washington, D.C., for service in the U.S. State Department to become desk officer for Belgium / Luxembourg. He helped organize the visit of the Duchess of Luxembourg, including a state dinner in the Kennedy White House to which he was summoned at the last minute. Helga was not pleased at having five minutes to get ready. However, the results were so dramatic that she almost rendered President Kennedy speechless—George wished she had!
George and his family proceeded to Stockholm, Dakar, Conakry, Brussels and Strasbourg where their second daughter, Courtenay, was born in a house that was formerly lived in by Winston Churchill.
Stockholm was one of their favorite posts with a house on the seashore and a small speedboat. One morning George went down to the dock to make sure all was in order before leaving for work. A smart suit, leather shoes and a wet deck do not necessarily mix well, and George found out how cold the water in Sweden really was. In his post in Dakar he was privileged enough to dance with Miriam Makeba.
George continued his service in Guatemala under Frank Meloy where the family survived and endured the catastrophic earthquake of 1976.
George played host to Henry Kissinger on his tour inspecting the damage the earthquake had caused in the country and organized relief supplies and assistance from the U.S. He returned to Washington and under President Reagan was appointed to his last post as U.S. Ambassador to Mauritius, a fitting reward to a life so richly traveled.
George retired honorably from the U.S. Foreign Service and became director of the World Affairs Council in Boston, successfully for seven years arranging many interesting speakers, including a former president of Mexico, prime minister of Canada and a former head of the CIA. He retired a second time with his wife to La Antigua Guatemala living in a house that was designed by their longtime friend, Charles Farrington. It is a beautiful home on the slopes of Volcán Agua surrounded by flowers and orchids.
George is survived by his wife Helga, his two daughters, a son-in-law and a beloved grandson Sebastien. His memories and life serve as true inspiration to all of us.