Interviews with former SAS Presidents

John Leder

John was a board member in the 80's and president in the late 80's and early 90's. When asked about his highlights, he recalls the time "when the Swiss Consulate General moved the location from New Orleans to Atlanta. We had lots of SAS activities and things to do!", and adds that “one of our firsts was to generate mail labels and send things to the membership via our comprehensive membership list". Last but not least, “during 1991, the club organized a number of 700 year celebrations, too.” John still plays his accordion, allowing SAS members continued enjoyment of his Swiss Folklore music.

Vreni Ludin

Vreni was President a number of times in the 80’s plus on the Board for many years in all aspects of leadership and responsibility. Now voted in as an Honorary Member.

Highlights: First Female President, started to call the members as outreach and received lots of new ideas and new places to visit such as the Gross Park in Henry County and an excursion train to the see autumn leaves. The first Atlanta Swiss Consular General in Atlanta was very active and worked to complete the Atlanta Swiss Club bylaws as they are today. They inventoried other Swiss Clubs to come up with the best set of Bylaws. Realized that by SAS incorporation this minimized risk and eliminated any tax exposures. Introduced a magician to keep the kids and parents happy. Started to bring in Swiss cookies into the Christmas function from Enrico’s cookie kitchen.” One Winter it was really cold and we baked in our coats. “

Peter Habluetzel

Peter took over the club’s presidency from Franz Vohlwend, in the late 1980’s. Highlights during Peter’s time included the following:

 • Swissair (remember our national airline?) began direct flights to and from Atlanta.

• Organization by the Swiss Consulate of an important large art exhibition, “Liotard to Le Corbusier”, in Atlanta. Meeting exceptional popular success, the exposition nevertheless remained a unique, world exclusive event that didn’t travel to other cities. Franz’ wife, Ruth Vohlwend, played a key role in the event.

• The move of the Consulate from New Orleans to Atlanta

• Incorporation of the Swiss American Society (for liability reasons)

Among the members of the board of directors Peter remembers Franz Vohlwend, Vreni Lüdin and Roland Schwab who together with his brother Heinz Schwab was at the helm of one of Atlanta’s very best restaurants – and always exceptionally helpful and generous towards the club. Peter also stresses the remarkable, outstanding level of support received from the Swiss Consulate and the Consulate’s delegate Jürg Flühmann respectively.

Suzanne C. Crosby

Suzanne was our club’s president from 1994 to 1997 and again from 1999 to 2001. A first highlight Suzanne remembers vividly took place at the annual meeting in 1994, when the Swiss Astronaut Claude Nicollier outlined NASA’s space programs and presented magnificent pictures of his journey through space. “What a way to start my presidency!”, exclaims Suzanne.

With the Olympics coming to Atlanta, the board understood that the Olympic Games were too big for the club’s budget and instead concentrated on the Paralympic Games. With most of the Swiss businesses in GA sponsoring the better known Olympic Games, help came from unexpected sources: from the Swiss living here and the Swiss Gymnastics Club of New York. 1996 was a very busy year for the club as well as for Suzanne personally. Indeed, having volunteered to be an envoy during the games, Suzanne was named in charge of all the European Countries during the Paralympic Games! She was invited by the Swiss Olympic Committee at many receptions to speak about our club and its involvement in the Paralympic games. Suzanne believes “by telling our compatriots in Switzerland about the lives of the Swiss abroad has helped to build bridges which still last.” There was a reception for the Swiss Paralympic team at the Carter Center in August 1996. The “chef de mission” shared with Suzanne that this was the first time a Swiss club had ever done anything like this and they were deeply touched by the club’s caring and generosity.

 Through a vote the club asked Suzanne to stay on as president for an extra year. At the beginning of Suzanne’s second presidency, the board, through formation of committees and sub-committees, was dedicated to find new ways to appeal to members. In addition Enrico Gamma organized a Swiss Wine and Cheese Tasting evening in a joint venture with the Swiss American Chamber of Commerce, Swiss Wine Production and Swiss Cheese Production. Says Suzanne, “we toured the Atlanta airport, danced at a Swiss folk music evening - the “Kapelle” was brought in by Swissair – listened to a “Jodler Messe” in the morning and enjoyed a memorable evening with the Jodlerklub Neue Sektion St. Gallen the same day, had a Millennium brunch, started the quarterly HelvetiKuss, etc., etc.” Regular activities during Suzanne’s presidencies included picnics, national day celebrations, fondues, a great rally in Stone Mountain Park, and Christmas parties.

When asked why she served on the board of the SAS for more than a decade, Suzanne answered, “First – I love working in a team and we were a great team! Second – having been married to an American, I needed the companionship of compatriots: people who laughed at the same jokes I did, knew what I was talking about when discussing Swiss matters, and understood why not everything American is superior.” Suzanne hopes and wishes “the SAS will continue to bring different cultures closer and find people who are willing to volunteer their time to a cause which may not change the world but which is important to many Swiss living in our beautiful state.”