December 11, 2009
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.
—Sara (Scout) Hanhan
Above photo: 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, Robert 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 about it.
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 something,
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, Ali Bey,
Rich (or “Vinc,” as villagers and Ali Bey and Adnan would sometimes call me…)
Rich Wandschneider, T-9 Diyarbakir; Aankara 1968- sonuna kadar 1970