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Obituary: Sigrid Ott-Benson, Pioneer of International Education

Obituary: Sigrid Ott-Benson, Pioneer of International Education

Sigrid Ott-Benson was a pioneer with a life of adventures. She spent her youth in the beautiful plains of North Dakota, USA and lived her later years in the picturesque Alpine village of Leysin, Switzerland. Her life’s experiences influenced her to become a leader in the international education movement.
Sigrid was born on September 13, 1916 in Upham, North Dakota. Her Icelandic heritage served her well in the harsh climate and poverty she experienced as a young girl growing up in a two-room farm house with seven siblings. Sigrid’s parents worked hard to give her the best education possible including sending her to university, a rare opportunity at the time. Her husband, Fred, became a life-long partner in her quest for international understanding.
In 1947, she went on a transatlantic journey with her two young children to reunite with Fred in Switzerland. Fred was a US Army officer transferred shortly after the war to Germany. He was born in Switzerland and had close ties to his country of origin. This reunion was intended to be 6 months, but lasted 70 years.
Recognizing the need for summer holiday opportunities for children of the many US military and expatriate families, Fred and Sigrid opened the International Ranger Camp in 1949. While Sigrid developed the camp operation, Fred planned and opened over fifty US Department of Defense schools.
The camps provided an environment where international understanding and unity was put above all else. This was greatly needed in a time when Europe was still suffering from the trauma of World War II. Sigrid found great fulfillment in the impact her camps had on the lives of the children and counselors.
This is when she and Fred started dreaming of founding a school where students from all over the world would be taught values of international understanding and tolerance. Their students, they hoped, would return to their home countries as citizens of the world.
Their dream was fulfilled in 1960 with the founding of Leysin American School (LAS). A few years later, they also established the American College of Switzerland, which become independent in 1976. After Fred and Sigrid retired in the early eighties, LAS continued to develop under the leadership of their son Steven and daughter-in-law Doris. Today, Sigrid’s grandchildren, Marc-Frédéric and Christoph, lead the school in educating 340 students from over sixty countries to become citizens of the world.
Sigrid Ott-Benson passed away on April 23, 2017 in the home of Steven and Doris in Leysin. She is survived by her daughter Aldis, husband Rudi, and their three daughters and families, as well as Steven, Doris, and their three children and families. Sigrid will be remembered by the thousands of young people, who passed through the gates of the International Ranger Camps and the Leysin American School.

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06/29/2021 - Chris
A great lady, I met her a couple of times, I went to camp at Asserbohus in Denmark , started as a camper one year and became a counselor over the years. I wonderful part of my childhood
12/21/2020 - Jeannie
In 1952, my parents sent me to International Ranger Camp in Glion. It created for me an enduring love of mountains, the Alps in particular. My stepmother wanted me to be gone for the entire summer, so I attended all three sessions. I fell in love with Chateau De Chillon; learned to water ski on the lake nearby; hiked on the wonderful mountain trails; visited cheese factories and many other things. I have been back many times including when the camp was moved, probably to Leysin. I don’t think anything had such an influence on me and probably led me to my retirement in the NC mountains which are wonderful, even if they are not the Alps. What a lucky life I have led. Thanks to Ms. Ott.
05/16/2019 - Sandy Campbell
After my graduation from the University of Washington in 1993, I joined the International Ranger Camp as Counselor. It was a wonderful summer making new friends and enjoying Suisse! I also working at Little Dutch Camp in Holland, and visited in Copenhagen. Our family is planning a trip to Leysin next June, 2020 and hope to meet Piere Vogt! Looking forward!!
Mrs Ott was a very encouraging and energetic person to work with. So much fun!!
05/20/2017 - barhoom
I do not know the lady personally, but what I heard about her is that she is a very good human being and she was very helpful with everyone and even with people who are not her family

God Bless Here.



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