The IPA at 70 - Michael Odysseos

22 Dec 2020

Dear friends,

If there is one man alive this special edition 70th Anniversary Newsletter needs to honour, it is Michael Odysseos.

Unfortunately, due to ill health, he was unable to write to us himself, but we agreed that I should put pen to paper and write a few paragraphs about the Michael I know so well, having served for 9 years on the PEB (Permanent Executive Bureau, now IEB) under his presidency, followed by an additional year where he supported the IEB as advisor.

I met Michael for the first time in Reno/Nevada in 2001, on the occasion of the first World Congress (IEC at the time) in which I participated. He was 65 years old; I was 31. While I was discovering the IPA at an international level, Michael was chairing his first congress, having been elected International President the previous year. And he would chair many more as he wore the president’s chaiMichael2n for 4 consecutive terms until 2012, when he decided to resign and serve a final year on the international board as advisor.

Michael and the IPA can be described as a happy marriage of passion, hard work and strategy.

Passion first of all, because Michael's heart has been beating for the IPA since the day he discovered the association, founded Section Cyprus and took on responsibilities at both national and international level. He organised his life around the IPA, and devoted a large amount of his free time and travels to the association. Michael may come across as reserved at first glance, but the second any conversation turns to a topic affecting the IPA, his whole character becomes alive, almost on fire and he will start to debate, helped in this by a strong Mediterranean character!
Hard work because Michael always put a lot of energy into his work for the IPA. His travels were rarely recreational. He always held a large number of meetings, and knew how to ensure he would meet key people to find support for our cause. He was a true ambassador for the ideals of Arthur Troop, for whom he had an almost reverential respect.

His meticulousness is also noteworthy. Rarely in my life have I come across a person so well prepared for a working session. As President, he reviewed the agendas and had a work system that left little room for doubt or loopholes.

Michael3It was not uncommon for him to retire early in the evening at a congress or a board meeting, to refine a point, to prepare an argumentation, or to re-read for the umpteenth time the international statutes, rules and procedures that he knew so much better than anyone else.
Strategy, last but not least, because Michael is also good at calculating, and I like to raise this point on a slightly teasing note. No election, at least not until 2012, escaped Michael's predictions. He amazed me, always knowing down to the last number of votes, who would be elected to which position!
It was his way of bringing a bit of politics into the game and keeping a certain presidential hand on the upcoming elections. Some remember it happily, others a little less, perhaps regretting that they had not listened to him enough :-)

Michael, on behalf of the whole IPA family, I wish you the best of health, assuring you of our friendship and gratitude for the beautiful pages you have written for the benefit of the IPA. More than anyone else you believed and continue to believe in the development of our association, you who have been particularly committed to this end on the two continents of Africa and South America, as well as anywhere else in the world.

Big hug,