Washington Life Magazine
Washington Life Magazine

POLLYWOOD | Diplomatic Dance

It’s been a thrill
Over the last four years, Hungary’s András Simonyi colorfully identified himself as the “rock ’n’ roll ambassador” who believes in “the soft power of cultural diplomacy.” But although his lovely wife Nada tried to be a good band groupie, she still prefers classical music. Now the couple is bound for Budapest, where they had their own consulting business before they came to Washington. Farewells for the Simonyi’s were particularly emotional with members of “The Coalition of the Willing” (Simonyi’s rock band) rubbing shoulders with members of Congress and the administration, including Secretary of Commerce Carlos Gutierrez. During a separate farewell at his residence where he celebrated Cleveland’s Rock ’n’ Roll Hall of Fame, Simonyi presented handsome gifts to Ohio Sen. George Voinovich, rock superstar Steve Winwood and Jeff “Skunk” Baxter, U.S. security expert and former member of the Doobie Brothers. Each handsome award included the

golden emblem worn by the freedom fighters on the streets of Budapest in 1956. “The thrill of my life is watching my country grow up as a democracy,” said this departing ambassador, who credits the rock ’n’ roll music that was heard behind the Iron Curtain from Radio Luxembourg, Voice of America and Radio Free Europe as one of the most crucial Western influences leading to the fall of communism in Central and Eastern Europe.

Sweden is in Paris, but Norway’s in The Hague
In a surprise move, Swedish Amb. Gunnar Lund and his Norwegian-born wife Kari Lotsberg (a busy full-time executive with Svaneli AB, an EU consulting and financial affairs firm in Stockholm), decided after less than two years that the Atlantic commute wasn’t really that much fun. So when the Paris posting opened, Lund packed his bags in early July and headed back to Europe, first to take a vacation with his wife and three children and then to move to Paris to be Sweden’s ambassador there.

Kari will still commute across national borders. Their new diplomatic digs in Paris will be home for their youngest daughter Ingrid, a Washington International School student here. Two older sons already attend Swedish universities. “It will be so much easier to see each other and have the family together now that we’ll all be in Europe,” said Amb. Lund, admitting that commuting across the Atlantic was not ideal for any family. But the real summer surprise came from Norway. Amb. Knut Vollebaek is off to serve as high commissioner on national minorities for the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE). He and his wife Ellen will be living in The Hague.

The Irish Sisterhood When Finola Bruton, the vivacious wife of EU Commission Ambassador John Bruton, first metJane Roberts, wife of Chief JusticeJohn Roberts, they immediately felt like sisters. Make that Irish
sisters. These two highly visible redheaded Irish lassies, married to two
of Washington’s highest-ranking men, have found a kinship that
makes their deep friendship obvious to anyone nearby.
“When Jane and I first met,” said Mrs. Bruton, “I felt like I’d always known her. She has helped me so much.” Mrs. Bruton celebrated their close
friendship in early June with a ladies’ luncheon for her guest of honor, Mrs.
Roberts, at the Bruton’s handsome Kalorama home. Many of Washington’s most influential women were there. Guests included diplomatic wives from
France, Argentina, Israel, Germany, Portugal, Poland and Hungary; Supreme Court wivesRebecca Gonzales, Maureen (McCarthy)Scalia and Mary Kennedy; Kalorama neighbors Joan Tobin and Renée Robinson; plus Lynda Webster, Jan Smith, Toni Gore, Ina Ginsburg,Nini Ferguson and Susan Blumenthal.


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