Auberjonois, Fernand 1910-2004
AUBERJONOIS, Fernand 1910-2004
OBITUARY NOTICE— See index for CA sketch: Born September 25, 1910, in Jouxtens, Switzerland; died August 27, 2004, near Cork, Ireland. Journalist and author. Auberjonois was an award-winning international reporter who wrote for the Toledo Blade and Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. After earning a geology degree from the University of Lausanne in 1933, he traveled to America and found a job as a private French tutor to actress Katharine Hepburn. Not much later, though, he began what would be a lengthy journalism career, first as a reporter for the Havas French News Agency, and then, from 1936 to 1942, as head of French service shortwaves for the National Broadcasting Company, for which he was host of the radio program L'heure française. When France fell to the Nazis in 1942, he was asked by the U.S. Military Intelligence Service to help the Allies. Though a Swiss citizen who was officially neutral in the war, Auberjonois agreed to enlist in the U.S. Army. He was trained in Canada by Britain's intelligence service and was assigned to Europe, where he was an aide to General George Patton and General Dwight D. Eisenhower. Involved in radio operations, he broadcast propaganda for the Allies and also established radio operations in North Africa that were designed to mislead the Nazis about D-Day. In addition to this important work, Auberjonois led teams on dangerous missions to destroy railway installations behind enemy lines. For his brave service to the Allies, he was awarded the Legion of Merit, the Croix de Guerre with four citations, and Poland's Polonia Restituta. France would also name him a chevalier of the Legion of Honor. Immediately following the war, Auberjonois published the newspaper La Presse Cherbourgeoise in France and became publishing director for the Europe editions of Time and Life magazines. From 1948 to 1954, he was head of the French service of the Voice of America. Unfortunately, he unjustly became a target of Senator Joseph McCarthy's Communist witch hunts in 1953. After being exonerated, Auberjonois vowed never to work for the U.S. government again. He left journalism for a time to cofound the public relations department of Hill & Knowlton International. In 1956, however, he was lured back to journalism by the persuasive insistence of Toledo Blade publisher Paul Block, Jr. This would mark the beginning of a long and productive collaboration that would last well beyond Auberjonois's official retirement in 1983. And, during this time, the journalist would also report for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Initially, Auberjonois was given the byline Fernand Fauber because Block felt it would be easier for Americans to pronounce, but eventually the reporter would be given his name back in print. Basing his office in London, England, Auberjonois reported on numerous important events, including the 1958 crisis in Algeria and the construction of the Berlin Wall in 1961. Awarded the Overseas Press Club Citation in 1957 for foreign reporting, he was nominated multiple times for the Pulitzer Prize. Even after retirement, Auberjonois continued to publish articles in the Blade into the 1990s; in addition, he published several novels and memoirs. Except for his book Top Dog: A Cavalier View of the English (1980), all these publications are in his native French, including Mon village USA (1950), Entre deux mondes: chroniques, 1910-1953 (1993), L'ile aux feux (1998), and De Chittagong & Cork: aide-memoire, 1787-1999 (1999).
OBITUARIES AND OTHER SOURCES:
Times (London, England), September 21, 2004, p. 31.
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Online,http://www.postgazette.com/ (August 28, 2004).
Toledo Blade Online,http://www.toledoblade.com/ (August 28, 2004).