In Memoriam -- Ali Yonceova (PC Staff)
Dave Weinman shared the sad news that Ali Yonceova died on December
11, 2009, in Germany. Ali had been the first staff member Dave hired in
setting up the Ankara office. Dave says he was his right arm and an
exceptional trouble shooter. After a while Ali went to work in Germany, but
came back to the Peace Corps office in 66-67 and stayed with the Peace Corps
until it closed in 1971. He became ill a few years back. So he was with
Peace Corps -- Turkey and the beginning and the end. Dave calls him the best
of the best.
He absolutely was! He and Ali
Osman bey were witnesses at my wedding. I'm so sorry to hear this news.
Turkish staff who attending the 1999 Arkadaslar Reunion that was
held in Turkey. Pictured L to R:
Mary Lewis Cameron (t-12), unknown, Ali Yonceova, Yalcin Bayer, Kilmi
Sumerman, Rober Finn (T-15)
I can't let Ali Bey's passing go by without sharing some memories... ama...
where to start! Maybe with the day I arrived back in country to be on staff.
I got all squared away with my carryall with Rasim Bey and Ali Bey, drove
down Ankara Blvd to the big restaurant where you could get roasted duck--ismini
hatırlamıyorum--and after a fine meal, probably with a couple of 3rd-year
volunteers I was trying to impress with my new staff status, I went back out
and backed into a motorcycle that had slipped in behind me when I was eating
my ördek. I went sheepishly back to the office--I had picked up the
license number and left a note on the bike with my name-- and explained it
all to Ali and Rasim. Don't worry, Rich, and don't tell the boss, or anyone
else, we will take care of things." and they did, I never heard another word
Or the time on the road at
some PC function in Istanbul when Ali Bey and I were the last ones at the
rakı table, and he summed it all up: "it's rich-- or the sons of poor
fishermen in an isolated village on the Mediterranean and never known there
was another world."
As I was the only single
male staff member for much of my stay, I developed a habit of stopping by
Rasim Bey's office after work, first cay, but eventually the rakı would come
out. Ali Osman and Kemal Ustacı would come in, and Hilmi Bey.
Ali the kapıcı would hover at the door and go next door for nuts,
cigarettes, another bottle of rakı, or whatever. I remember him only
grinning, sometimes Mujgan or scout would break briefly into the erkek
circle, but for the most part it was the guys.
Ali Bey and Rasim Bey would
tell stories--and eventually so would I. About the time they tried to
set me up with Ali Oosman's cousin from the village one bayram-- I
called Adnan Akay, then my roommate, and cried for help.
About their work in the old
days with the oil companies, about Kurds and Turks, the French and Germans
in Istanbul, I think Ali Bey's mother was born in Istanbul because her
father was a German or French engineer building railroads or boats or
I should of course have
taken notes, but did not. Maybe Scout remembers more stories. It was a
fine time and Ali Bey was a fine friend. I saw him last in Germany on
my way home in 1970.
I see him now in my mind's eye, smoking a Yeni Harman, sipping aslan sütü....
Selamlar, wherever you are,
Rich (or "Vinc," as
villagers and Ali Bey and Adnan would sometimes call me...)
Rich Wandschneider, T-9
Diyarbakir; Aankara 1968- sonuna kadar 1970