January 22, 2010

UN diplomat and College alum dead in Haiti earthquake

Andrew Grene (B.A. ’87), a United Nations diplomat in Haiti, died in last week’s devastating earthquake. He was stationed in Port-Au-Prince as assistant to a United Nations special representative in Haiti, Hedi Annabi, who also died in the quake.

“He was a true humanitarian, working for the good of the people of Haiti,” Irish Foreign Affairs Minister Micheál Martin said in a statement. “My thoughts are with Andrew’s wife and children and all his family and friends at this difficult time.”

Grene, 44, whose father, David, was a classics professor at the University and an influential translator, grew up in Chicago and Ireland. He attended high school in Winnetka, Illinois, majored in romance languages at the University of Chicago, and later graduated from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University.

Grene’s work with the United Nations took him to the Central African Republic and East Timor, and Grene was eager to work in Port-Au-Prince.

“He believed passionately in the Haitian people,” his twin brother Gregory told the Chicago Tribune on Tuesday. “He believed in their vivacity, their charm. He believed in giving every person in the world a fair shot, and he gave his life for that.”

As of Thursday, Grene is one of 61 confirmed United Nations officials killed in the Haiti earthquake, the largest single loss of life in the organization’s history.

Grene is survived by two sons who attend the University, second-year Alex and third-year Patrick, as well as his daughter Rosamund and his wife Jennifer.