fernand dies, fantasy football

One of the greatest men I have had the pleasure of spending time with has died at age 93. His name was Fernand Auberjonois.
I visited Fernand in his Ireland home in October 1999. At the time, I was a reporter for The (Toledo) Blade with an interest in foreign affairs. Fernand had, for decades, been The Blade’s European correspondent, based in London. But to just call him a reporter doesn’t give him his due — this man truly lived a life.
Among the things he did in his 93 years: Helped start what would become the Voice of America; helped plan the Normandy invasion; was targeted by Joe McCarthy in the 1950s; became one of Switzerland’s best-selling authors; gave French lessons to Katherine Hepburn; helped develop the theremin, the cult electronic instrument; translated John Dos Passos and befriended Walker Evans; became publishing director for Time-Life Europe; and inspired the character Odo on “Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.”
Now that’s a life. And he was just the sweetest old man you could imagine. (His wife Helga is great, too.) As I’d go on various foreign adventures through the years, he’d write me little notes of encouragement.
The Fernand Auberjonois brand of foreign correspondent is largely dead now. Fernand wrote primarily about diplomacy, wearing dapper suits and interviewing powerful functionaries; modern correspondents tend more towards a more populist style. But the lesson I take from Fernand’s life is that if you’re going to have to wake up every morning, you should at least try not to be boring.
“I never had the feeling I was having a hard time then, because it was all far too interesting,” he told me back then, talking about his days living hand to mouth in New York City. “That’s what life does.”
Here’s the story I wrote about Fernand back in 2000.
Here’s an appreciation of Fernand (with pictures) written by Jack Lessenberry, another old Blado.
Here’s the obituary linked above.
In other news, tomorrow night will be the one time each year when I descend into a zen-like calm, focus my energies, and direct all thoughts to a singular goal: my annual fantasy football draft. Longtime readers may remember that two years ago, my team (the Bobby Heberts) won the league, thanks to a stirring Amani Toomer effort in the finale. Last year, my Clubfoot Dempseys fared less well, although the fact I was in Zambia for most of the season certainly played a role. (As did my burning a first-round pick on Donovan McNabb when Shaun Alexander was available.)
This year, I have poured my hopes into the Bum Phillippi. (A free cola beverage to the first reader who can figure out the three Saints references in my team names.) The cheat sheets have been constructed, the rotoreaders have been scoured, and I’m ready for battle. Gooooooo, Bum Phillippi!

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