In Memory of Armin and Natalie

Monday, 07. October 2013

by Daniel Davis Wood

Memories of Armin Lüthi and Natalie Lüthi-Peterson, longtime directors of the Ecole d’Humanité, were honored by the school community at last night’s Sunday Andacht. Armin and Natalie became joint leaders of the Ecole upon the death of the school’s founder, Paul Geheeb, in 1961. They spent the next thirty-four years overseeing its progress and expansion, and both of them continued to make indispensable contributions to the school community after retirement and right up until their deaths. Natalie passed away almost a year ago, on November 23, 2012, while Armin passed away more recently, on September 10, 2013; and although the Ecole hosted memorial services for them at those times, last night’s Andacht was the first communal effort to honor Armin and Natalie as a couple.

As explained by last night’s Andacht leaders, Ernst Thöni and Sonia Benenson, the Andacht offers a weekly opportunity for the entire community to gather together and contemplate broad questions of life, ethics, and existence. With pianist Henry Hu in attendance, however, last night’s Andacht employed music rather than the spoken word as a vehicle for a contemplation of Armin and Natalie’s contributions to life at the Ecole d’Humanité. Taking guidance from an aphorism by Victor Hugo -- “music gives expression to what cannot be spoken in words and about which it is impossible to remain silent” -- Henry performed classical pieces by Bach, Beethoven, Ravel, and Shostakovich, each of which, for him, bore some connection to powerful memories of Armin and Natalie. Flawlessly delivered, his stirring performance allowed more than one hundred of those who knew Armin and Natalie to quietly cherish their memories of such passionate, generous, humane, and beloved friends and leaders.