Andre Meir Saltoun
Andre Meir Saltoun passed away peacefully, from heart failure, at his Montecito home on Friday, July 17, 2020 with his wife Michele, by his side.
Andre was born in Baghdad, Iraq on January 21, 1930. Tragically, his parents were killed in an accident when he was one year old. Fortunately, Andre was surrounded by a large family who took care of him. At the age of 13, he left Baghdad to attend the American University of Beirut. Fluent in French, Arabic and English, as well as being a motivated student, Andre finished high school in three years. A teacher, seeing great promise in Andre, encouraged him to pursue higher education in the United States. Andre undertook a harrowing journey which included traveling on a coal boat filled with unsavory characters from Marseilles, France, to Galveston, Texas. A $100 loan from a boat officer enabled Andre to get to the East Coast where bridge games and washing dishes paid for his successful completion of an undergraduate degree at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Andre saved money for seven years by working in a number of sales jobs, including driving a liquor truck, so that he could attend the University of Wisconsin Law School in 1957. Andre served as managing editor of the Wisconsin Law Review. Upon graduation from law school, Andre accepted an offer at the first and only international law firm at the time, Baker & McKenzie in Chicago. He joined the firm in 1960 when it had twenty-eight lawyers and revenue of less than one million dollars. When Andre retired in 2005, the firm had 3200 lawyers, revenue of over two billion dollars and offices all over the world. Andre was one of the first lawyers to advise companies regarding the tax implications of operating internationally. Clients included Wrigley, International Paper, Levi-Strauss, Kellogg’s, Sherwin Williams, Mattel and Sun Microsystems. Given his language skills and counsel to American and French multinationals, Andre worked closely with another senior partner, Christine Lagarde of Baker & McKenzie(Paris). Ms. Lagarde currently serves as President of the European Central Bank. Among many other professional accolades, Andre was awarded the French Legion of Honor in 1975. This is the highest decoration awarded to a civilian by France and recognized Andre for the many years he served as legal counsel to the French government in Chicago.
In the late 1980’s Andre was asked to oversee the growth of Baker & McKenzie’s offices in San Francisco and the Silicon Valley. With foresight, these offices became a substantial part of the firm’s base. While Andre still served his clients in Chicago, the California weather beckoned him to re-locate to the West Coast. Andre moved to San Francisco where he met his wife, Michele, in 1995. Their shared joy for exploring the world resulted in wonderful memories over many years and miles. As Andre looked forward to retirement in 2005, the couple chose Montecito, California as their community to call home.
Andre enjoyed a very active life in Santa Barbara. Tennis was a passion supported by many years of play with the Montecito Tennis Mafia (famous for his lobs and drop shots) and memberships at the Santa Barbara Polo and Racquet Club (where Andre won a pie contest) and Birnam Wood Golf Club. At Birnam Wood Andre also enjoyed backgammon, bridge and countless social events with many friends. He loved classical music and was committed to the Community Arts Music Association (CAMA). Andre joined the CAMA Board in 2005 and served for 14 years, including as President from 2012 through 2015. CAMA named Andre Director Emeritus in 2019.
Andre is survived by his wife and partner of 25 years, Michele, who feels a tremendous loss. Beverly Saltoun, Andre’s first wife, and their daughters Synthia Saltoun (Norm Siever), Myra Saltoun and Julie Saltoun (Fred Weiner), who reside in Southern California, will miss Andre, as will Francine Saltoun (whom Andre married in 1960) and their daughters, Diane Saltoun (Bruce Braun), Josiane Saltoun and Carol Saltoun (Tim Calkins). All reside in Chicago, Illinois. Michele’s extended family shares in her grief, especially her mother, Sandra Neely.
Andre cherished and is remembered with love by thirteen grandchildren and seven great grandchildren.
Andre considered his first cousins, spread across the globe, to be his brothers and sisters. He found great joy in the reunions and frequent communications shared with relatives in the U.S., Canada, England, France, Israel
A celebration of Andre’s life will be held when family and friends are able to gather. The family will sit shiva, virtually, with Rabbi Arthur Gross-Schaefer presiding.
Donations in Andre’s memory may be made to the Community Arts Music Association (CAMA) of Santa Barbara and Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital.