It was only last month that Gaetana Enders, née Marchegiano, was back in the Tangier of her youth. We don't often have the pleasure of hosting eighty-something researchers in our library, and I regret that I don't have a photo of Gaetana poring over a stack of books on Tangier, International Zone.
Another regret: she was in the final, fact-checking stage of writing her autobiography, and I wish that I had had more than a tantalizing look at the draft, filled with detail on the war years, when Italian families in Tangier were divided between loyalties to Mussolini, or, in the case of Gaetana's father, to Italy's monarchy.
Gaetana Enders, widow of career Ambassador Thomas Enders, passed away in New York on May 21.
Her trip to Tangier in late April was to revisit the city where she was born and grew up, and where she met her husband. Which was at the American Legation.
In 1951, when Minister John Carter Vincent - who, as a "China Hand" was in diplomatic purgatory in Tangier, prior to his departure from the US Foreign Service in the worst days of McCarthy - wanted to give a reception for the visiting Thomas Enders, then still a student, he thought of young Gaetana Marchegiano. She would be the hostess, and invite her young friends.
Daughter of the International Zone's judicial administrator on the Commission of Control, Gaetana not only threw a great party for Thomas Enders but soon became his wife. She recalled her marriage in Tangier a few years later: "I was paraded through the medina in my white wedding dress, to the accompanying you-yous of the Moroccan women."
Thomas Enders joined the Foreign Service in the late Fifties, and made a meteoric rise through the ranks, serving in several ambassadorial posts, including Canada, Spain, and the European Union. After his death, Gaetana presented a rare map to the Legation in his honor, in the place where the two had met.
Gaetana led an extremely active life, first as an ambassador's wife, then as International Editor of ¡Hola! magazine (or Hello in its English edition), interviewing a series of international figures and celebrities.
Her final visit to Tangier, though she was still recovering from serious medical problems, was especially touching, revisiting as she did places like the Legation that were so important in her life. We feel honored that we were able to share this moment with her, and our hearts go out to her family.