car bomb hits close to home


Ok. Sometimes life slips up behind you and smacks you in the back of your head.  And smacks you big.

And it is sneaky (in a really really mean way).

Imagine being on the internet and a headline pops up:

Stephen Everhart, Professor At American University In Cairo, Dead In Car Bomb Explosion

And this Stephen Everhart is your friend.

He is just Steve not Stephen to you.

Not in a headline about a car bomb.

He was a friend.

A friend you have maybe not seen every year but a friend you made a long time ago and have kept in touch with no matter the location or distance or whatever.  A friendship built upon mutual respect.  A friendship built upon the fact we could ask each other an opinion in an email or a brief phone call and know you would get a good smart answer (or point of view).

My friend was a professor at the American University In Cairo at the time he died (but he didn’t die in Cairo).  Steve was probably one of the smartest guys I know. I had an undergraduate economics degree and he would humor me into helping me understand all the voodoo he knew.

I liked that our debates made at least a dozen of the articles I have written better. He had a habit of sharpening thoughts I didn’t even know had a dull edge.

And, I admit, I felt smarter when he would drop me a random email asking me to share what I thought about something he was thinking about.

And even more important to me.

He was fascinated by my projectglobalgeneration and the whole global education initiative idea (so I kinda felt like I was on to something).

Along with his smarts he had the wonderful enviable combination of a huge ego balanced by an everyday humbleness.

And he was funny.

And delightfully immature in a guy sort of way and incredibly insightful in others.

And all of those things made him one of those guys you could have a cold PBR with at a dive bar and then watch him stand up at an international Alternative Energy conference in Southeast Asia duking it out with one of the world’s smartest economists the next day.

And he was my friend.

What happened?

He was killed on June 23rd in Baghdad when his diplomatic convoy hit a roadside bomb near an Iraqi university. He was only 52 (and I turn 52 this weekend so it kinda hits hard).

He leaves behind a wife (another professor) and three children.

Steve was with other American educational contractors while visiting a satellite office of Mustansiriyah University in eastern Baghdad. He was working in Iraq with the United States Agency for International Development’s (USAID) Mission acting as a short term federal consultant to foster entrepreneurship education programs in Iraqi business and finance schools – a program that was supported by the Iraqi Ministry of Higher Education.

According to Iraqi police, Shiite militias who operate in the nearby neighborhood of Sadr City were responsible for this attack that killed about 40 others.

He was doing good things when he died.  And he was doing something he was passionate about – elevating education (fighting ignorance as he and I used to talk about).

Steve joined the faculty of The American University in Cairo in September 2008 and was an Associate Dean of the School of Business.

He must have invited me at least a dozen times to visit.  And he also stepped up to the plate during the recent riots and offered to go get another friend of mine who was visiting Cairo at the time and bring her to his home to get her away from the riots if she wanted.

He had a B.S and M.S. and an M.A. and a Ph.D. (and probably several other acronym degrees) and knew more about finance and economics than maybe the top .0001% of the entire world.

In a statement, the American University in Cairo memorialized Everhart for his, “warmth and intelligence, his affection for his students and colleagues, and the contributions he had already begun to make to a better Egypt.”

He was a smart, funny, likeable, humble, down-to-earth economist who was comfortable in a dive bar, beach chair, board room, convention podium, hammock or international forum using a translator.

And after I wrote all of this I received an email from another good friend of Steve’s who said it maybe better than I could ever say it:

“I understand the words I’m reading BUT he was smarter than this. He’s certainly braver than me…trying to raise Iraqi business school standards? He certainly had a passion. He did what he believed in.

Dammit. Dammit.

One of the smartest guys I’ve known with an ego to match…but it all wore so well. And, he had enough humility to respect the opinions of us ad/marketing types. He could be charming and scary smart all at the same time. Great combination. One of the most memorable people I’ve spent time with.”


Better than anything I could have ever imagined writing about Steve.

I never met his current wife.

So if she reads this I hope she forgives me this one last thought.

I met Steve when he was just stepping out of his second marriage (I think). Already one of the preeminent economists in America (soon to be on his way to Washington DC to serve on a government economist committee) I asked him what he did on his vacation.

“I went to the Caribbean.”

(me) “oh, where.”

“Hedonism 3 resort.”

I almost fell out of my chair laughing (even better is I didn’t really know if he had or was kidding).

And then he started talking through an econometric model he had just designed and we were talking business.

He was smart (really smart).

He was a normal every day guy.

He was a good friend who I had the utmost respect for.

And I am gonna miss him.

Written by Bruce