Gertrude served on the AAWE Board as Advisor and then Constitution and By-Laws Chair from 1961-1969, and again as Special Advisor from 1980-1989. Gertrude was named an Honorary Member of AAWE.
The FAWCO Foundation Education Awards Program Humanitarian Award (sponsored in part by AAWE Paris), is in memory of Gertrude de Gallaix.
Tributes from Both Worlds, Retrospective of the Association of American Wives of Europeans - 1961-1991.
If Phyllis remained the inspiration for AAWE, Gertrude de Gallaix was surely its architect. A particularity of AAWE members was that we were all confirmed “non-clubwomen”. But AAWE was different, and so was Gertrude. A no-nonsense parliamentarian, Gertrude showed us how to do things as they should be done: motions, committees, minutes of the meetings, annual reports, the works. But the discipline was stimulating and the results quickly began to show.
– From p. 6 of Both Worlds, Retrospective of the Association of American Wives of Europeans – 1961-1991
When one speaks of Gertrude de Gallaix one is almost obliged, by the facts themselves, to use such terms as “pillar of the community!” A founding member of AAWE, a founding member of the Council for the English Speaking Community, a founding member of AARO, a charter member of the American Women’s Group in Paris, the writer of the original statement of policy for the Junior Guild of the American Cathedral, and past president of FAWCO, Gertrude de Gallaix not only helped to start up organizations, she also stayed, helped, advised, and watched over them with an energy that seemed endless in spite of a physical handicap caused by polio.
Gertrude was from Chicago. She was born in 1905 and graduated from Smith College in 1927. Shortly after, she visited France and met and married a French lawyer. Paris became her permanent home, even during the war when she was “constantly cold, hungry and scared.” After her husband died in 1949, Gertrude stayed on, working professionally at legal translations and devoting the rest of her time to promoting Franco-American relations.
Though Gertrude was never president of AAWE, she was a valuable advisor to many presidents and many boards, all of whom profited from her administrative skill and common sense.
From p. 43 of Both Worlds, Retrospective of the Association of American Wives of Europeans – 1961-1991.
Conscience and Commitment-Gertrude de Gallaix - FAWCO Foundation
Conscience and Commitment-Gertrude de Gallaix Gertrude de Gallaix, originally from Chicago, went to Paris to study at the Sorbonne after graduating from Smith in 1927. She soon met and married a Frenchman, a lawyer, Marcel de Gallaix. While maintaining her professional life, she became ever more involved in various blossoming American organizations and was a founding member of AAWE Paris. In 1953 she became active in FAWCO, and served as its President from 1957-1959 and as The FAWCO Foundation President from 1975-1977. Gertrude’s commitment at The FAWCO Foundation led to the founding of its original Education Awards program, reflecting her strong belief in the importance of a broad, well-rounded, and international education. Perhaps her highest honor was in 1968, when she was one of a few selected recipients of the “Women of Conscience” Award from the National Council of Women of the US, for her work in building Franco-American relations.
After her death, the de Gallaix family donated $25,000 to The FAWCO Foundation, with the understanding that The Foundation would match the amount and apply the interest to a scholarship to be made available every year. AAWE has supported this scholarship base over the years, to honor an AAWE founder and prominent member of the Paris international community.
– Excerpt from FAWCO Foundation – Your Projects, Your Passions…Your Foundation – Celebrating 50 Years of Commitment to Philanthropy. Editors: Elsie Bose, Nan de Laubadère, and Suzanne Wheeler. Layout: Kathy Araujo and Cat Conner
“I will miss Barbara’s comfortable simplicity. It was so easy to know where you stood with her. She was EASY to appreciate: she did so many things well and whole heartedly. Barbara was a most exceptional woman: smart, rigorous, caring, with a tongue in cheek humor that kept me thinking about what I might have said to provoke her response to me.
She was so well organized but never rigid. As an example, she would work out every little detail for volunteers for the Front Desk at the Bazaar. She knew what had happened the previous year, reminded us of needed supplies and contingency plans, however she was never thrown for a loop if a glitch came up, or a volunteer couldn’t make it, or someone didn’t want to pay. I’m trying to remember if I ever saw her ‘loose her cool’.
She was an amazingly accepting and friendly woman with serious convictions. She rolled up her sleeves and worked hard to support all she believed was good and right. As I write about her I seem to state personality contradictions. She held strong ideas but was open minded. I guess that is what made her so special. She embodied contradictions without complexity. Her numerous contributions to AAWE bear wit-ness to her commitment to our club and we will all sorely miss her individually.”
From Beth Austin, President AAWE
“I discovered a woman with a big heart, a sharp wit, a joker, a warm laugh, always of good humor, strong opinions and wise advice. An educator for 40 years, she worked at EAB, and taught some of AAWE’s children. She took care of AAWE in many ways, notably working/running the Bazaar for many years, but most recently by launching her idea of spreading the love and connection via the “telephone tree” during the Covid lockdown this year in France, and subsequently, encouraging us to vote. An avid “Booknik”, she was a fantastic presenter, and most recently did an exceptional presentation of Sapiens.
Barbara was currently serving as Recording Secretary on the Executive Commit-tee of the AAWE Board, keeping us on the “straight and narrow”. She had brought her laptop to Dax to be sure she’d be able to take the minutes for the Board meeting on Zoom. She was waiting impatiently for Covid to end so she could give her new grandson, Enzo, a big hug in person in the US, and we could all relate to that. Barbara’s good humor and smile will be sorely missed. She left us much too soon.”
AAWE Member Tributes
A gem, and a rock for the Board • a huge asset to the Board; she was getting us all whipped into shape, and I hope we keep it up in her memory • a pillar of good humor and good sense • when she spoke, I listened very carefully! • a kind and giving heart • always ready to volunteer and contribute her time and talents to make our association better! • she organized the calls to our members during the Covid confinement last spring! • a sad day indeed for all who knew her • a role model to many of us at AAWE • a “true blue” person, so willing to help out, or take charge, and made sure things ran smoothly • dedicated to AAWE • “school marm” charm!!! • took to her job as recording secretary with such enthusiasm • a faithful member of Bookniks and expertly led our recent discussion of Sapiens• a pillar of AAWE for years • when she took on leading a discussion of the book she chose, it was as if I were back in college for a lit class! • “Barbara Bazaar’s Bugler” flyer • favorite teacher status among many EABJM students – my daughter included • never drew attention to herself but was so interesting and intelligent and it was always a pleasure to be with her • enjoyed conversations with her at the AAWE office while we proofed the news • quite a remarkable person • a wonderful wife/mother/grandmother/friend has left us • one of my favorite AAWE girls • oh our dear Barbara! • where haven’t you left your footprint and your positive influence? • rest in peace you wonderful, spectacular and adorable soul • our “West Virginia, Mountain Mama”, Barbara • she had the fulfilling life that she had chosen and that’s the most a human can hope for • the world has lost an extraordinary woman • she called to check on me during confinement • generous, genuine, witty, thoughtful, devoted, lovely, unique, and wise • thank you for all the loving support you have been to me • stellar contributor of education articles to AAWE News
Lucy Stensland Laederich
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
Tribute compiled by Jane Mobille
Lucy Laederich, our longtime AAWE member and friend, and a leading advocate for the rights of Americans abroad, died peacefully on February 1st, 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, “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
Tribute from Sally Benoist
AARO-FAWCO “Overseas Americans Week” 2015
In all, nine people went to Washington D.C. 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 D.C., 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.
Tribute from Kathleen de Carbuccia
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.
Olive Lorsigol was a friend and inspiration to many of us and a well-respected and well-loved member of AAWE.
May she rest in peace. May her memory be eternal.
Olive’s multiple activities were mainly with AAWE and WICE. So many aspects of AAWE that we take for granted today were dreamed up and carried to fulfillment by Olive. The club would not be what it is now without her imagination, enthusiasm, tenacity, and ability to inspire others.
Phyllis Michaux was a pioneering leader in obtaining citizenship rights for Americans abroad and their children, as well as an inspiration to all overseas Americans for more than 50 years. Her vision, organizational skills, and determination led first to the founding of AAWE in 1961 and then AARO in 1973.
Phyllis led the effort to change laws affecting not only the citizenship rights of Americans abroad, but also their right to vote in Federal elections, and to receive Medicare and Social Security benefits, as well as equitable tax treatment.
Her book The Unknown Ambassadors: A Saga of Citizenship was published in 1996. She received the first Eugene Abrams Citizenship Award from American Citizens Abroad in 1996, and the first Outstanding Service Award from AARO in 2010.
AAWE & AARO Commemoration
On Saturday, September 26, 2015, AAWE and AARO members joined with her friends and family at the American Church in Paris to commemorate Phyllis’ life. Speakers were: Pamela Combastet, President, AAWE; Carolyn Granier-Deferre, Phyllis’ daughter; Isabelle Michel, Founding Member, AAWE; Lucy Laederich, President, AARO, Past President, AAWE; Kathleen de Carbuccia, Founding Member AARO, Honorary Member AAWE and AARO; Michael Adler, Honorary Member AAWE and AARO; and Kristina Keenan, Veterans of Foreign Wars, Benjamin Franklin Post 605, Paris.
Attendees were also asked to share thoughts and memories of Phyllis. In recognition of Phyllis’ honorable military service, the commemoration concluded with a stirring Taps and Flag Ceremony. A reception followed in the Theater.
In Isabelle Michel’s words.
Marilyn, a Girl Scout leader along with me at the American Cathedral, saw the ad Phyllis placed in the Herald Tribune and phoned me immediately. She told me: “There’s this Phyllis Michaux who’s exactly like us, her husband is French, just like ours, and she wants to have American women, just like us, meet her and see what we can do together. I’m going, you must come!”
…. Just after Marilyn had hung up, Carol, another friend, phoned. Her friend Kitty had seen the ad and was all set to go. But Carol had the same problem as I did: she lived in the suburbs, and she had THREE young ones…. My suggestion to Carol was: “why can’t Kitty drop her two-year-old off at your house and drive you into town for the meeting? I’ll come over with my children, and babysit for the whole gang.”
And so it came to happen…babysitting was my contribution to the very first meeting….
In Lucy Laederich’s words.
After the first citizenship battle fought with AAWE, Phyllis became concerned that, without the vote, it would be difficult for Americans overseas to win many more. She was also aware that Washington, then even more than now, was run by men, and that a group of women who appeared to have chosen to live in a fancy city in France might lack the gravitas it would take to take on her next challenge…. AARO’s mission from the beginning was Phyllis’s larger mission – to defend the rights of Americans living abroad….
With the former president of FAWCO, Sonia Minçbère, she devised the now-famous “teabag campaign”, protesting “taxation without representation” for Americans abroad and organizing a small army of would-be voters all around the world to send teabags to Washington in support of legislation that seemed to be going nowhere. And it worked. Washington was inundated, powerful people like Barry Goldwater realized for the first time that there were potential voters “over here” who should not be lost, and overseas Americans won the right to vote in 1975.
In Kathleen de Carbuccia’s words.
What a legacy Phyllis left! First, the family – eight French grandchildren… many of whom have worked or studied in the US and have US nationality. And so many other children who have the opportunity to do the same. Many times Phyllis told me these children would be the hope of the future—so attractive, intelligent, bilingual, and bicultural. She was convinced that US decision makers only had to look at this new, international generation to see what an asset they would be as citizens.
She made friends everywhere…. She wanted to know their stories and she remembered them. She didn’t make a big effort to be polite but she always tried to be helpful, which could mean anything from giving citizenship advice to reading their palms. Even more remarkable is the fact that she did not make enemies. At least I never heard of any…. She may have annoyed people with her prodding, she may have stepped on some toes in Washington, but she did it with well-worded arguments and without animosity….
In Michael Adler’s words.
Phyllis was, as are we all, a complicated person. Certainly not a saint. Many words come to mind to describe Phyllis: intelligent, fully engaged, demanding, capable of being a genuine curmudgeon at times, wise, energetic, attuned to life’s mysteries….
She fully understood that accomplishing anything worthwhile was a step-by-step process. And she embraced that process willingly. She was forever clipping news articles, following up on references she found, identifying people who could be enlisted to the cause, making connections, moving forward….She once sent me a card, the gist of which was: “When you are by the water, always have your hook ready for action because you never know when something useful will take hold of it.”….
We are all blessed to have had you in our lives not just for the improvements that were made in citizenship, voting, taxation and the rest for Americans abroad. But also, we are blessed with the many friendships and the sense of deep community that have developed through the AAWE and AARO.
In Kristina Keenan’s words.
Phyllis said, “I joined the service because I was a war widow, at age 20. There was a lot of steam about WWII at the time. And a great deal of feeling for that war. And I guess that’s why I joined.” Phyllis traveled to Europe on the Queen Elizabeth with 15 other OSS women and over a thousand male service members. She landed in Scotland on June 6, 1944, D-Day, and a few days later arrived in London….
Her service paved the way for women like me who would later join an American military that had integrated women into its ranks, where I would earn the same pay as my male counterparts, and where my contribution would be recognized through the medals which I wear today.
As a proud veteran, I would like to commend Phyllis Michaux, wherever she may be, for her distinguished military service, for her willingness to volunteer during wartime, and for her bravery. She was a true American hero.