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Obituary

André Varchaver died peacefully at his home in Washington, DC on June 8, 2022.

 

He was born in Brussels, Belgium on July 20, 1926, the only child of Alexander and Catherine (Koulischer) Varchaver, who had both left Russia at the time of the Soviet revolution.

 

André's serene childhood was shattered by World War II. After the German army invaded Belgium in 1940, the family, along with one grandmother and two cousins the Varchavers had taken in, piled into a car and fled, finding their way to Toulouse in southern France. There they spent a year and a half trying to overcome the daunting challenges of winning the right to emigrate to the United States.

 

They eventually succeeded, landing in New York City, and in a whirlwind few years, André attended and graduated from New York's elite Stuyvesant High School, joined the US Army and was posted in Japan. Arriving weeks after Japan surrendered in 1945, André served as an interpreter and translator in military intelligence—he spoke, English, Russian, and French—and even did some translation for Gen. Douglas MacArthur, who oversaw the occupation. Upon André's return to the US, he got a bachelor's degree at Indiana University and did graduate studies in international affairs at Columbia University.

 

A few years later, he joined the United Nations system, where he would spend nearly three decades. During these years he held numerous positions, mostly at UNESCO, and he lived in Paris; New York; Addis Ababa, Ethiopia; and Kinshasa, Zaire (now Congo). His final position in the UN system was as chief of staff of the organization's second headquarters, in Geneva.

 

After his retirement from the UN system, André worked another 20 years pursuing his lifelong commitment to helping the world, with assignments as varied as being an observer in the first-ever democratic elections in Namibia and flying to Armenia to help the relief effort there after a catastrophic earthquake. During these years, he undertook projects for the National Science Foundation, worked for the Inter-Parliamentary Union, was active in UNESCO-related organizations and moonlighted as a foreign-visitor-escort/interpreter for the State Department.

 

He never lost his concern for the world, his love of people, or his appreciation for a well-cooked meal.

 

He is survived by his wife, Nicole; his children, Catherine, Nicholas, and Peter; his stepchildren, Francois, Federico, Wilfredo, and Lyra; and six grandchildren.