In Memoriam Jürgen H. Blankenburg
* 17 May 1935, † 31 August 2017
Today, we lost a true friend, a visionary and a firm believer in youth exchange, an ardent supporter of young people and of the arts. Jürgen Blankenburg, “spiritus rector” and Honorary President of the AFS Foundation, leaves us with an immeasurable wealth of memories and a legacy he has created in the name of youth exchange. He has been an AFSer through and through – an AFS exchange student from Duisburg to Birmingham, Alabama, in 1952/53, a key supporter of AFS Germany for more than 25 years, an AFS Trustee from 1993 to 2000, also Chairman of the Finance Committee, and a member of the Risk Management Committee until 2004.
Out of his concern for the risks that organizations like AFS face, and relying on his professional experience as a risk manager and independent insurance broker, he initiated the creation of a foundation that would safeguard the name and the legacy of AFS. In 2004, he was the Founding President of the AFS Foundation. He retired from the board of the Foundation in 2012 and was named Honorary President.
Jürgen Blankenburg never shied away from getting involved, he always stood up for his beliefs. He was an extraordinary personality. He was also an avid collector of art and an important supporter of cultural institutions in his city of Hamburg and beyond. In 2009, the Federal Republic of Germany bestowed on him the Federal Cross of Merit (Bundesverdienstkreuz).
We will miss his wit, his optimism, and his wisdom. We will cherish what he has created and what he has taught us – for the good of AFS, for the youth, and for an open-minded perspective on the world.