Subject: Daniel Fietkiewicz, at 52; interpreter for presidents

[Note: Daniel Fietkiewicz was active in the New York chapter of ETAN.]

Bergen Record

Daniel Fietkiewicz, at 52; interpreter for presidents

Monday, October 18, 2004



WEST MILFORD - Daniel Fietkiewicz, who worked often as an Indonesian language interpreter for the U.S. government, died unexpectedly at home Friday. He was 52.

Mr. Fietkiewicz grew up bilingual, speaking Polish and English fluently. He used his aptitude for languages throughout his life, learning Hindi and spending nine months in India with the Peace Corps. He then spent two years in Indonesia, learning the country's native tongue, and turned it into a career. He worked as a freelance Indonesian interpreter for former Presidents Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, and for President Bush, as well as for three Indonesian presidents. He also interpreted for the State Department, European labor unions, and many private corporations and agencies.

But Mr. Fietkiewicz always found time to volunteer in his hometown. He served on the Upper Greenwood Lake Ambulance Corps for more than 10 years, and was a founding member of the new West Milford Democratic Club.

"He was so brilliant, he could have done anything with his life, and he chose to spend it going to Third World countries, interpreting for people wherever he could," said Renee Weiss, a fellow member of the local Democratic organization. "If there is one word to describe him, it's dignity - he was the epitome of dignity."

Five years ago, Mr. Fietkiewicz flew to East Timor, in southern Indonesia, to volunteer for six weeks using his linguistic skills as a peacemaker with the Peace Brigades International. He told a Record reporter before leaving that although the violence and fighting had gotten worse in that war-torn part of the world, the tuberculosis epidemic was more frightening.

His fear did not stop him from making the trip.

"Sometimes you find yourself in a position where you need help and you can't help yourself," Mr. Fietkiewicz said. "I hope when it's my turn to need help, that someone is going to help me."

Mr. Fietkiewicz was born in Syracuse, N.Y., but spent the majority of his life in New Jersey. He earned an undergraduate degree from Syracuse University and a master's degree from the University of Missouri. He lived in Park Ridge before moving to West Milford 17 years ago.

Mr. Fietkiewicz is survived by his wife, Brenda Yanni, and two brothers, Fred and Bob. He was predeceased by a brother, Gene, and his parents, Joseph and Josephine Fietkiewicz. He is also survived by brothers-in-law, sisters-in-law, and many nieces and nephews.

Arrangements are by Robert Spearing Funeral Home in Park Ridge. Visiting will be Tuesday and Wednesday from 2 to 4 and 7 to 9 p.m. A funeral service will be held Thursday at Spearing Funeral Home at 10 a.m., followed by interment in Old Tappan Cemetery.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Upper Greenwood Lake Ambulance Corps, Hewitt.


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