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Board of Directors
Walter J.P. Curley
François Bujon de l’Estang
Allan M. Chapin
James G. Lowenstein
It is with the greatest sadness that her colleagues, fellow members of the Board of Directors, and the staff of the French-American Foundation note the passing of Elizabeth Fondaras.
From the Foundation’s very early years to the present day, Liz Fondaras was devoted to the purpose and work of the institution she helped to establish. Her sustained generosity towards the Foundation was unmatched. Liz joined the Board of the French-American Foundation in 1980 and became its Vice Chairman in 1987. She was an active supporter of several of the Foundation’s programs and had a strong interest in education. As most of us know, it was her untiring efforts for the annual dinner gala that set her apart. Since 1987, her event has become the cornerstone of the Foundation’s annual fundraising program, and an evening much anticipated by all members of the French-American community. Such success would not have been possible without, as former Foundation President Tony Smith once wrote, her “kindness, civility, efficiency and charm.”
Liz was also widely admired for her other tireless efforts on behalf of French-American relations. She created two scholarship programs and was a founding chairman of the Advisory Board of the Pasteur Foundation. She served on many boards, including St. Paul’s School, NYU’s Maison Française, the American Friends of Blérancourt, the Institute of International Education, the Lacoste School in France, the Children’s Storefront School in Harlem, and the Foreign Policy Association. She was honored with a Tribute of Appreciation by the State Department in 1972, received the Medal of the Center for French Civilization and Culture of New York University in 1988, the Pasteur Foundation Award and the French-American Foundation’s Vergennes Achievement Award in 2006. She was promoted to Commandeur de la Légion d’Honneur in 2009.
Upon first receiving the Légion d’Honneur , former Consul Général in New York Gérard Gaussen stated that “There is no American in Paris who has a wider circle of friends, both French and American, nor who has done more in a serious way over a long period of time to further French-American relations than Mrs. Anastassios Fondaras.”
A resident of New York City, Long Island, and Paris (since 1948), Liz was, no doubt, a “grande dame,” a person more than worthy of all the many eloquent and elegant tributes which have been and will be offered in the days to come. But a quiet remark may express it best. In 2002, upon the passing of her close friend and former Foundation President Edward Tuck, Liz said, “When you were with him, you knew you were with somebody.” That simplest of statements conveyed respect, affection and more still -- a simple truth. Her words ring just as true now as we all remember Liz, with such respect, affection, and gratitude for all she meant to so many. “When you were with her, you knew you were with somebody.” She will be sorely missed.