Andrew Grene, UN official with University ties, among victims of Haiti earthquake

Andrew Grene, 44, a senior United Nations official in Haiti with longstanding ties to the University of Chicago community, was among those killed in the Jan. 12 earthquake, officials with the UN and the Irish government said Tuesday.

Through his career in public service, Grene was "a true humanitarian," said Ireland's Minister for Foreign Affairs, Miche'al Martin, TD, in a statement Tuesday. Grene, who graduated from the College in 1987 with a B.A. in Romance Languages and Literatures, was based in Port-au-Prince and served as assistant to the head of the UN's special representative in Haiti, Hedi Annabi, who also died in the earthquake along with numerous UN workers. Grene held citizenship in the U.S. and Ireland.

"Andrew is part of a long and honourable Irish tradition of public service with the United Nations," Martin said in a statement. "His family, and indeed Ireland, can be very proud of his work."

Two of Grene's children currently are students at the University of Chicago - Alex, a second-year student; and Patrick, who is in his third year. Andrew Grene's father, David Grene, was a University faculty member and an internationally recognized expert on the classics. He was among the founding members of the John U. Nef Committee on Social Thought. A native of Ireland, he died in 2002.

Andrew Grene was born in Chicago and raised here and in Ireland. In a brief note to University colleagues, Grene's son Alex said his father had inspired many people through his example.

"He was a hero to me in every sense of the word, but it wasn't just me; he inspired everyone around him," Alex Grene wrote. "The amount of love and joy in his heart was more than anyone could fathom; so much so that when I looked at my 44-year-old dad, I could see clearly in him the youthful 18-year-old college student who wandered the University of Chicago with wonder in his eyes, and the young boy who once ran and played amid the soft, green, rolling hills of Cavan."

In addition to his two sons, Andrew Grene is survived by his wife, Jennifer; and a daughter, Rosamund. Services will be held in Ireland.


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