RPCV Who Made A Difference: Gary Engelberg (Senegal 1965-67) Passes in Senegal

From Lillian Baer (Senegal 1965-67)

It is with a heavy heart that we write to you today to announce that our wonderful and close friend, Gary Engelberg, passed away this morning in his beloved Senegal.

We want to allow you all to have this information immediately, and we will write more as we compose more gentle words, as well as some detail and plans moving ahead.

We are reaching out to you now in our grief at this difficult time, and we hope that by sharing with so many of Gary’s friends and family in Senegal, in the USA, and in the rest of the world, we can each carry a lighter load as we move forward in the world without this shining light.

Many of you know how ill Gary has been for past years, and that he has suffered from a number of severe ailments. We are sorry that these issues and challenges finally overtook his strong will and kind soul.

Please think gentle thoughts and good wishes for the team in Senegal who has stood with Gary these days, and are prepared to help us all move ahead with the next steps.

In my haste, I have certainly omitted many good friends. Please share with (y)our friends, networks, Facebooks, and others who have known Gary and loved him.

If you would like to write to ACI and the team to share your condolences, please use


With much love,


Lillian Baer and Gary Engelberg met in 1965 during Peace Corps training.
In 1983, after more than 15 years of experience in Africa, they established Africa Consultants International (ACI), a Dakar-based American NGO where they developed communication, training, study abroad and health activities in Senegal and other countries in West and Central Africa.
Lillian directed the organization until her retirement at the end of 2006 and Gary until June 2013. M. Simon Lazarre Badiane is the current executive Director of ACI.


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  • From Gaston KABA, former Peace Corps APCD Health in Niger
    (1996 – 2008)

    My wife Liliane and I, we were utterly devasted when we heard that our dear Friend Gary had passed away. I knew Gary since the end of the 60s in Dakar and I will always cherish the moments I shared with Gary who lived a few steps from my mother’s house in SICAP Baobab.

    I salute his mission of promoting intercultural understanding, social justice, health and well-being of peoples, and his vision of building bridges between peoples through cultural exchange, the promotion of well-being, dignity, justice, equity and peace. I salute his timely initiative that allowed the ACI Health Department to develop so many programs in different fields for Senegal and Africa such as HIV / AIDS response, Adolescent Reproductive Health, and Family Planning.

    As Language (French and Hausa) and TEFL group Leader sent to Senegal by Peace Corps Niger in the Summer of 1973, to train Peace Corps Trainees to be assigned to Niger, we benefitted from his experience as staff, APCD, Regional Training Officer in Senegal.

    Gary and Lillian Baer have marked their indelible presence in Senegal after they co-founded the NGO Africa Consultants International (ACI). Borrowing Lillian’s comments, suffice to say that he made the difference in the lives of so many people, especially the needy.

    How could my wife Liliane and I forget Gary, the AFRICAN, who chose to make Senegal his home? I remember vividly all the wonderful lunches we shared together sitting in circle on the floor around a succulent dish of thieboudienne, the famous Senegal rice and fish.

    Let me tell you an anecdote. Very caring, and knowing that I could not eat with my bare hand and that I had a back problem that prevented me from sitting on the floor, Gary took care to serve me rice dish on a stool, by allowing me to sit in a chair and eat comfortably near the circle. Gary was incredibly generous because every lunchtime he would share his lunch with everyone on his team and friends. He was also always ready to help others. This was the Gary that I knew.

    Again, we are very sorry to hear about the demise of our great and common Friend Gary who will always be in our hearts. Please accept our hearty Condolences to his family and friends.

    May Gary’s soul rest in peace!

    Liliane and Gaston

  • Mon Dieu!!! So Gary has crossed the rainbow. What a kind soul! What a nice person!! He had the gift to make one feel comfortable and liked. He was sweet, gentle, and passionate. Gary offered everything to everybody and was measured in every length, considerate, and present. From Mauritania, he will be missed. yet his love will continue to live on as I cherish the memories of this giant, this baobab. Baobabs don’t die when they fall. They continue to nourish the earth, the people and enrich the ecosystem, the cosmos. To you, Liliane and to everybody at ACI, I present my most sincere condolences. May Gary continue to enlighten our path.

  • I am shocked and saddened by the news of Gary’s passing. Gary Lilian, Doyen and the team at centre baobab shaped my positive experience of early days in Senegal— back in the 1990s. Gary and co. were pioneers in cross-cultural learning for so many and will never be forgotten. Thank you so much Gary for all you’ve done. RIP.

  • Dave Black, PCV Gabon 1967; PCV Senegal 1968-69
    APCD Morocco 1984-88; PCD Union of Comoros 1989-91; PCD Armenia 1992

    It was my good fortune to have been in Dakar twice in the last few years and stay at Gary’s home. Like so many,
    I was the beneficiary of his legendary hospitality, good will, endless cultural insights not to mention endless Tieboudienne, Yassa,and Mafe. The myths and stories flowed in conversations with Gary, and the continuous stream of visitors that graced his home from his many years of service and friendship. As I headed south to the Casamance, he opened doors to knowledgable Senegalese friends that could facilitate my journey. These contacts always proved productive and enriching.

    Gary concluded early on that the Senegalese had a culturally informed genius for conflict resolution and was devoted to guiding others to ‘learn to see’ and benefit from this unique culture. He deeply admired the Senegalese for their many cultural strengths and and good humor, and in his kind way, sought to share them with us for over a half century. In one of our last conversations he reminded me of Martin Luther King’s words, “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice”. He had learned that the Senegalese, with their understanding of the world, held cultural tools for bending this arc towards social justice. Gary was inspirational in devoting his life to using this knowledge to work for cross-cultural understanding. Who would have guessed he would be able to make it so much fun.

    A tall baobab has fallen in the forest. I join the legions of people who will miss Gary as a dear friend.

    • Hi, Dave!
      We were indeed fortunate to know Gary and share his hospitality. I was able to visit him a second time in 2015 and again this past January. He was such a great host. I sure thought he had a few more years ahead of him.
      How are you?

  • I am very sad to hear we’ve lost this wonderful soul, Gary Engelberg. I got to know of his transformational work when I fist went to Senegal and registered for a customized French language lesson at the Africa Center, which he co-founded and led with Lillian Baer. He was such a gentle, humble and inspiring person with a clear vision about the human world we all must live in. May his soul rest in eternal and perfect peace!

    • I am very sad to hear we’ve lost this wonderful soul, Gary Engelberg. I got to know of his transformational work when I fist went to Senegal in 1988 and registered for a customized French language lesson at the Baobab Center, which he co-founded and led with Lillian Baer. He was such a gentle, humble and inspiring person with a clear vision about the humane world we all must live in. May his soul rest in eternal and perfect peace!

  • Un grand monsieur, une belle personne qui a adopté le Sénégal et que le Sénégal a adopté !Gary restera dans nos coeurs. Condoléances émues à la grande famille d ACI
    Adama Sow Dieye

  • We are saddened to learn of the death of Gary, but grateful for his service to our nation with the Peace Corps in Senegal.
    Our condolences,
    The National Peace Corps Association

  • I knew Gary from 1965 on, as we served in the same Peace Corps group. I observed how he transitioned from a Peace Corps Volunteer training teachers to a full-fledged trainer and organizer as our paths crossed over the years when I returned to Senegal several times for assignments. Gary shared his love for Senegal and its people through language and cross-cultural training and led the way in educational initiatives during the height of the HIV/AIDS crisis.

    Gary’s fine work, which touched the lives of many in Senegal, the US and around the world is a fittling legacy. Condolences to all of us and may you rest in peace, Gary.

  • Dunham and I are both very sad to hear of Gary’s passing. What a kind, intelligent, special man. It was a privilege and honor to know him.

  • Gary was the heart of our Pc Training at Dartmouth during the summer of 1964, and at La Pocatiere, Quebec, summer 1965. His enthusiasm and leadership continued during his service in Senegal from 1965 through 1967. When we all went home or back to grad school at the end of our tours, Gary stayed on with grander plans and dedication.. H e was the epitome of all that is good about the Peace Corps, and its goals. He kept in touch with us from timeline time, and helped us have a wonderful reunion forty some odd years later at Dartmouth. I was proud to have known and experienced him. Thank you, Gary.

  • I was thinking about Gary and Lillian tonight as I’m getting ready to make vote-from-abroad phone calls to Americans outside the US. The first place I thought of calling was Americans in Senegal. I googled Gary and Lillian and landed on this page. So sad to learn of Gary’s passing and to have missed an opportunity to communicate the profound impact his and Lillian’s work has had on me since leaving Senegal. I learned Wolof at the Baobab center – 32 years ago – and I still speak it when I meet someone from Senegal or eat at a Senegalese restaurant.

  • I am sorry I am just hearing about Gary. He was my trainer as a Language Instructor for Peace Corp Gambia. One of the most intelligent and caring human beings I have ever met.
    I remembered as I was competing to gain a spot on the training staff Gary noticed how nervous I was as I was doing my practice teaching. He pulled me aside to calm me down and gave a wonderful word of encouragement. I proceeded to do perform well and got selected. Garry will be greatly missed. Rest In Peace

  • Bilaay! Ndeysaan. I just went online to see what Gary was or was not up to…. I first went to Dakar August 1977 to work as a doctor epidemiologist in an OMVS project involving Senegal, Mali and Mauritania.

    Long story…I stayed three years, took Wolof during a break in the OMVS schedule and became RPCMO/TDY, Dakar 6 months and in 79, même chose à Niamey, Niger, 3 months.

    Gary was always an inspiration, as was Lillian, for their giant hearts and welcoming natures.

    Yala na Yala maayleen jaam, alhamdulillah.

    Yisgadal vayiskadash borihu. Bisma Ab weweld Minfus Qudus…

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