"You are giving civil servants a bad name"

Shared by Mary Jo Arnoldi on August 13, 2019
There are many wonderful stories we could all share about Gerry.  One of my favorites was in the late 1980s/early 1990s in Mali.  I was there doing research from the Smithsonian and I had rented a room for a month in Bamako with a family in one of the older quarters.  It was pretty minimal living -Mattress on the floor, single light bulb hanging from the ceiling, water from a barrel in the compound. One day,  I ran into Gerry in town -he was there to do an evaluation for AID, if memory serves me correctly.  We went out to dinner, had a great time, lots of laughs (always with Gerry) and then he gave me a ride to the house.  He entered the compound and greeted all the assembled family members, chatted for awhile with everyone in Bamana and then he said, "hey Mary Jo, let me see your digs".  Well, when I opened the door and he looked in , he turned to me and said,  "You can't stay here -you are giving civil servants a bad name!"  So very Gerry! 

"I've Got A Contact"

Shared by Colleen Wilkins on August 1, 2019
Through my cousin Tommy Sullivan, I had a friend named Mehow Nawrot whom was originally from Poland. We met and became fast friends in the handful of years in our 20s when everyone was working and having fun in Chicago. Fast forward about 5-7 years and Mehow was traveling, I believe to Peru (cannot recall). Long story, very short - he met a girl, extended his travels and eventually lost track of the fact that his visa had expired while he was there. He was stuck in Peru and not able to return to his job in the States. By the time the information made it to me, he had been stuck for many weeks and had tried to navigate the US Embassy, Polish Embassy, etc. to get some help, to no avail. 

I said something to the effect of, "I've got a contact that might be able to help - my uncle was in the Foreign Service. He's retired now but might be able to help. You never know." I called my dad to get Gerry's phone number, then called Gerry and explained the situation. He said, "Dear Colleen. Give me 5 minutes and I'll call you back."

Within minutes (literally about 5-10), my phone rings and he says, "Colleen, he's sprung and on the next flight to Chicago."

"Africa Cashion" Visits

Shared by Colleen Wilkins on August 1, 2019
I remember as children that it was a very special treat when Uncle Gerry, Aunt Barb, Dylan and Fitz would come to visit us in Winnetka, IL. We had lots of cousins and visits with the Sullivan side of the family - since my mom is from Milwaukee and so much of the family is still in the Midwest. The Cashion side was more mysterious, more exotic....

It was a much more rare and, no offense to the Sullivan clan, more exciting when the "Africa Cashion" family would come to visit. Their stories and lives were so different - and gave us an opportunity to see and hear about the world in new ways. Uncle Gerry always had a funny joke, a great tale, a booming voice, and even maybe some swears thrown in for comedic effect - after which you'd get a big cheshire-cat smile and a booming laugh!

His stories of his work and adventures were very interesting - and always real - he wouldn't sugar coat the state of the world as he saw it. He never hesitated with stories of his respect for the people in the countries in which he was living and providing foreign service. 


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