On January 16th, 2023, LeRoy Eugene Euvrard, Jr. passed away, thirteen days after his 80th birthday. He is survived by 5 children and 11 grandchildren. Raised a Unitarian, Roy was a scout as a child and later become a scoutmaster, which was one of the things he enjoyed the most in his life. He also enjoyed hiking and camping, traveling, trying different foods, and going to museums.
After graduating from high school, he joined the Navy (VP-31, the RAG (Replacement Air Group)) while studying history at Columbia University. He was very proud of and enjoyed his time spent as a Naval Officer. He later studied labor law at Boston University, practicing corporate law before switching to environmental, health and safety engineering.
When he retired in 2007, he moved to Héricourt, France, a small town that was home to many of his ancestors. For the next 10 years, together with his dog Lafayette, he explored Europe in his RV and immersed himself in history, his second love after politics. During his time in Europe, he was an active EUU member and volunteer. He was an activist and volunteered his time to causes he was passionate about: this included driving his RV (with Lafayette) to Lesvos in December 2015 and 3 months later to the Greek-Macedonian border to help refugees.
A few years ago, health issues forced Roy to return to the U.S. He lived in Michigan and then Tennessee, where he found the UU church in Knoxville congenial. He enjoyed debating politics with friends and sharing his travels on Facebook.
Here’s how some of his friends remember him.
Rev. Chris Buice (minister of the Tennessee Valley UU Church in Knoxville, Tenn, theme speaker at the EUU Spring 2014 retreat and frequent guest speaker at UUFP (Paris))
Leroy and I once went on what I called “The Great American Road Trip in France.” We had a great time. He was a man of passionate and provocative views. He had a talent for both friendship and estrangement, a polarizer and peacemaker, depending on his mood. He was a Vietnam veteran who warned us against the military industrial complex. I knew him when he was a libertarian in Ohio so was surprised when I met him again later and he was a socialist in Europe. Capable of being both big hearted and curmudgeonly, he traveled all the way to Greece to help refugees from the war in Syria. His posts in later life had the quality of jeremiads. However I will always remember the man who showed me around France and shared with me so many of the things about it he loved.
I’ve never talked to Roy in person, our friendship was all virtual.
In 2014, when I worked in a home for young refugees, he sent me a parcel with comic books in French. I brought them into the refugee home and they were all taken in a minute: a well-appreciated distraction.
Later my daughter Lydia and I followed his posts closely, when he went to the Greek island Lesvos with his camper. We found it very courageous for a man of his age to mingle with the young folks there in order to welcome the refugees coming in by boat. One day they had a bunch of leftover bananas and he baked banana bread. I’ve tried it, too, once he told me how he made it.
Being a veteran of the Vietnam war, he was an outspoken opponent of war; he wouldn’t accept war for any reason. A challenge, especially to his UU friends, during the 2016 election campaign. There was no way for Roy to support Clinton, even if that meant Trump would win. For him Trump was the lesser evil, who, he thought, “wouldn’t start a war.”
He would often send me private messages, sometimes including other EUU friends. In these messages he would ask about anything he heard about Europe, or Germany in particular, that he couldn’t make sense of.
In October 2022 he sent me an article about possible shortage of gas and power in Europe in the winter. I told him we’re prepared. The last words he wrote to me were: I hope so. Bon courage!
Roy was a good friend and am glad I got to visit with him in Knoxville a couple of years ago.
Piling on the gratitude to those who shared this news; I feel lucky to have known LeRoy. He came to the rescue more than once during EUU retreats, and I will always admire his sense of adventure upon moving to France without knowing the language and then being of service wherever he went, including to Lesvos to support the wave of refugees during the Syrian conflict. What a wonderful person!
LeRoy was a much-valued member of the EUU community and at UU Basel. He always had interesting contributions to discussions and led a particularly valuable workshop at a retreat in Belgium. We miss him.
Soon after he moved to France in 2007, Roy Euvrard showed up at one of the ICUU European Region summer family weeks that Antje Paul and I organized near Lubeck for a few years. That was our first contact, and I didn’t learn too much about him except that he had been a member of the UU church in Cincinnati and had retired to a small town in rural France, though he didn’t speak French. I thought that was extraordinary, even though he did have cousins there. He told me he visited them once, communicated a little, and then they found him an apartment and he moved!
For about 10 years after that, Roy was a fixture at EUU retreats, sleeping in his RV when he could, helping welcome people, and photographing our activities. He offered a workshop in 2017, “Why Perpetual War?”
I suppose I shouldn’t have been surprised that someone who was dauntless enough to move to rural France without speaking French would also be dauntless enough to set out for Greece in his camper, with Lafayette, to help Syrian refugees who were crossing from Turkey to Lesvos. He documented his experiences there and in a camp on the Macedonian border, and some of us followed his Facebook posts quite intensely. Many EUU members volunteered to help Syrian refugees in Europe, but Roy’s approach was the most direct – just go and figure out what was needed.
One thing I respected Roy for was his curiosity about details. Whenever he didn’t understand something that he read about Scandinavia, he would write to ask me for an explanation. When he went through the photos he had taken in various parts of Denmark, he wanted me to help him make sense of some strange shapes peering from behind a set of buildings. It took quite a bit of back-and-forthing about where exactly the photo was taken, and then using Google satellite maps and my own knowledge of what types of Danish buildings might be in that location to solve the mystery. I just now went to look for that photo and was astounded at the number of beautiful photos of his travels in Denmark, some of them uploaded as late as November of last year.
Looking back over our correspondence, I am reminded of how extensive and wide-ranging it was. An unexpected message would suddenly appear asking for practical advice about roasting a turkey, softening brown sugar, cooking with European ingredients — or a question about how realistic a Danish TV series he was watching was. Or why Afghan refugees were admitted to Denmark at the same time as Syrians were being sent back after being here for years. For some reason he also used to ask my advice on dealing with various computer issues, especially while he was living in France.
His well-known curmudgeonliness made discussing US politics and a few other topics difficult and I usually avoided it, but occasionally we agreed. Once when I had to delete one of his comments from my Facebook feed, I wrote to tell him privately that I did it because I thought it was hurtful to a Syrian friend (who had recently lost family in the war) whose comment he had commented on. He apologized and said he should have made his first message private – and then when I said I agreed with him that Trump was not the only problem, he wrote: I can’t tell you how pleased I am when we agree.
I’ve enjoyed looking back over our 15 years of online conversations and the photos he posted; it’s made me realize how much I’ll miss hearing from him.