April 8, 1938 - August 18, 2018

Legendary Diplomat, Once a Roosevelt Islander, Kofi Annan Dies

Updated 26 weeks ago
Kofi Annan in 2012 while serving as Joint Special Envoy to the United Nations
Kofi Annan in 2012 while serving as Joint Special Envoy to the United Nations


United Nations Leader, Nobel Peace Prize winner and one-time Island House tenant, Kofi Annan died yesterday in Bern, Switzerland.

Until becoming Secretary General of the United Nations in 1997, Kofi Annan and his family occupied a 9th floor apartment in Island House, 575 Main Street.

Yesterday, Roosevelt Islanders recalled Annan as a gentle, accessible neighbor, even as he shouldered the burden of leading U. N. Peacekeeping in deeply troubled times. The world endured the Rwandan Genocide and the slaughter of Bosnian Muslims by Serbs in Srebrenica, during his tenure.

But we remember him more intimately.

"He was also a participant in the early morning walk around RI which was started by my late husband, Bernie Schwartz," recalls Raye Schwartz.

Djibril Diallo, my long time Roosevelt Island running partner who Annan assigned to developing international leadership to set the stage for a future of peace, posted a video of a lowered flag at the United Nations on First Avenue, without additional comment. (Diallo is currently President and CEO at African Renaissance and Diaspora Network.)

Annan left lasting impressions on those who knew him as a neighbor.

"My memory of this tall, handsome gentle man is perfect," said Nina Lublin, while noting that many recollections lack the same staying power.

She also remembered the personal characteristics that lead to greatness.

"On a very few rare occasions back in the day, we said good morning to each other and travelled in on the 6:30 a.m. Tram, together sometimes. My best memories were the occasional small talk and conversations on the current events of the day in that soft, low voice of his that could deliver the most powerful points."

You're welcome to share your memories and thoughts on Kofi Annan here. In the meantime, the New York Times published a detailed article about his public life, if you'd like to learn more.



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