Committee News

Farewell to Margaret Sohn

After 30 years living and working in Costa Rica, Margaret Sohn decided to return to the States. During her 30 years here in San Jose she raised to sons, who now reside in the States, and worked in the Real Estate business. She was also active in Republicans Abroad, Women’s Club of Costa Rica, the Nacional Symphony, a member of the Country Club, and very well known for her kindness to animals that had been abandon or ill.

Margaret was very active as a member of the American Colony Committee for 12 years. She spearheaded the donation policy we now have out the picnic gate and 2012 she broke the record for picnic patron fundraising and set up the policy for our committee’s new Red, White and Blue Walkway.

In grateful appreciation to Margaret, the American Colony Committee made her a permanent Honorary Member of the organization. This was celebrated in a surprise farewell party given by the committee (see photos below).

We all wish you well!!!

Seymour Arnold

On January 17, 2013, Seymour Arnold passed away in Plantation, Florida.

Seymour was the first pioneer in manufacturing clothing on the “draw back” program here in Costa Rica. He was well respected and very successful in this field.

He was an active member of the AmCham here in Costa Rica and for many years an outstanding member of the American Colony Committee. Each year he was a vigorous co-chairman with the fundraising committee by requesting donations from American companies manufacturing in Costa Rica.

It is members of the American Colony Committee like Seymour that has made our annual 4th of July Picnic a huge success over the past 50+ years.

The American Colony Committee expresses their deepest sympathy to Carla, his wife and family and all his dear friends in Costa Rica.

Seymour you will be missed!!

Jay Fernandes

Jay Fernandes was a big man in the community, a leader in many organizations in Costa Rica including The American Colony Committee. For many years, Jay brilliantly performed the tasks of overseeing one of the most tedious and most important committees for the annual picnic, site set-up, as well as the popular horseshoe tournament, and he will be sorely missed.

The American Colony Committee wishes very best to Grace. In the words of Spenser Manners:

You can take solace knowing that Jay has passed on to a peaceful and comfortable place. Know also that you have the support from all those who love you and loved Jay. Let that love cover and comfort you through this sad time.

Jay's memorial service on February 12, 2012 in Heredia was attended by hundreds of people and featured tributes from representatives of many of the organizations to which he had devoted his time and energy. Below the photo, read the remembrance delivered by Susan Tessem on behalf of the Committee.

Jay Fernandes Memorial Service

by Susan Tessem
February 12, 2012

If a man is measured by the regard in which he is held by those who knew him well, then Jay Fernandes ranks as a celebrated leader among members of our community in Costa Rica.

It is easy for strangers to see the triumph of a strong leader, but it is quite another thing to have a long-term friendship lasting 30 or 40 years and reflect on the measure of this man.

I knew Jay best through the American Colony Committee and Republicans Abroad Costa Rica.

Jay stood with his friends, not ahead of them or behind them. Your basic salt-of-the-earth kind of guy.

When Jay committed himself to a project he would always follow through. Whatever he chose to carry out was brilliantly executed, exacting, through and followed-up with a detailed written evaluation.

Obstacles like illness or unpleasant situations (that would be normal legitimate excuses to us) were not to Jay. The mapping and set-up for the 4th of July became an art form.

Jay was a sincere, caring and fervently loyal friend and a hard working unselfishly charitable member of our society.

Reading through the numerous condolences that have come through the internet I was reminded by Lynda Solar of one incident that demonstrates what comes from deep inside Jay Fernandes. (and I quote)

“Jay was a force to be reckoned with. I will never forget one 4th of July celebration at the Cervecería when a heckler tried to disrupt the US Ambassador’s speech. Jay in his mid 80s but still formidable, nearly tackled the hapless man to the ground as he moved him away from the official ceremony. What a guy!”

No matter where Jay found himself in the world he was 1st and foremost a proud American. He always voted, paid his taxes, helped with voter registration, attend and supported our major international Republicans Abroad gatherings.

He was particulary proud to have served his country in the US Navy during WWII and after in the Naval Reserve. At this time I would like to introduce Mel Goldberg, American Legion Post 16.

(flag presentation)

We have shared so much together and together our lives have become so much richer. Jay Fernandes is the Gold Standard by which all business and community leaders will be judged. Our many friendships with Jay have multiplied our happiness and help us now to divide our grief.

Understanding God’s Divine Wisdom is not always easy -
nevertheless we must vow with the same courage, dignity, love and devotion to meet the standard for leadership he has set.

Jay, watch over us and bless us until we meet again.

Susan Tessem

Susan Tessem

For more than fifteen years, Susan Tessem volunteered her services in the demanding role of chairman of the American Colony Committee, before retiring in 2011. The new chairman, Lynda Solar, presented Susan with a plaque and this tribute to Susan's dedication, not only to the Committee but to the many other organizations which have been enriched by Susan cheerful and generous work:
You hear the laugh first - totally unmistakable for its strength, pitch and spontaneity. The laugh is followed by the figure, totally unmistakable and impressive. I'm talking about the one and only Susan Tessem. Susan, can you join me here at the podium please.

Susan is a doer. She makes things happen and she's been the motor, the driving force, the laugh and the smiling face behind the American Colony's organization of the annual 4th of July celebration for more than fifteen years.

Susan, who has been in Costa Rica since 1980, is also a driving force and tremendous fund raiser of other local organizations such as the Costa Rican American Bicultural Center, the Youth Orchestra of the Americas, the National Opera Company and the Little Theater Group.

Susan stepped down as president of the American Colony Committee earlier this year and on behalf of her fellow committee members it is my honor to present her with this plaque which says:

The American Colony Committee of Costa Rica

whose mission is to promote the civic observance
of the United States of America's Independence Day
and its history and traditions
gratefully recognizes

Susan Tessem

for her lifetime achievements, and especially for her
many years of service and dedication to keeping alive
the United States spirit and the tradition of the
4th of July Picnic in our home abroad.

July 4, 2011 — San Jose, Costa Rica

Susan Tessem