Global Language Community Honors Life of Hans Fenstermacher

The professional language community this week mourned the passing of one of its luminaries: Globalization and Localization Association (GALA) co-founder Hans Fenstermacher.

Described by GALA as a CEO, entrepreneur, polyglot, industry advocate, and friend, Fenstermacher leaves behind a long legacy of professional contributions. Born in 1961 in Munich, Germany, Fenstermacher experienced childhood in Berlin amidst a Germany divided by the Cold War, experiencing both sides of the Iron Curtain as he pursued his education. Kickstarting his career in localization through his command of seven languages, Fenstermacher made his own opportunities as an entrepreneur, ultimately selling his business to TransPerfect in 2006. Just a few years earlier in 2002, Fenstermacher charted another major professional achievement by co-founding GALA. 

“Hans Fenstermacher … exemplified vision, action, and commitment to his industry,” GALA wrote in a LinkedIn post. “He saw the need for a professional community and spent more than a decade building it. His wit, intelligence, and facility for languages was perfectly suited to this industry and his list of contributions is long. We will miss him.” 

Many of Fenstermacher’s friends and colleagues took to the same LinkedIn post to share their memories. 

“I worked closely with Hans in the period when we were helping out as part of the Steering committee of The Rosetta Foundation and later supporting the merger with Translators without Borders, I appreciated his energy and common sense,” wrote OIga Blasco. “My condolences to his wife and family.” 

Blasco’s comment prompted a reply from Don DePalma.

“Hans was a good friend – and one of the best outcomes of my decision to research the language sector,” he wrote. “He was an entrepreneur, advocate of a smarter language sector, spectacularly fluent in several languages, conversant in geopolitics, cleverly punny, and a fun sparring partner in any kind of discussion.”

Many remembrances centered on Fenstermacher’s kindness and conscientiousness. 

“Hans was such a smart, passionate, and kind man,” Véronique Özkaya wrote. “He contributed so much for our industry and is an example to us all. We will miss him. My deepest condolences to his wife Janet and his family.”  

And, of course, bereaved friends and colleagues uniformly recognized Fenstermacher’s immense influence on his industry — an influence destined to echo for decades to come. 

“Hans was one of my dearest and closest friends, my mentor, my role model, my family,” wrote Kimberley Harris. “He was a true visionary, an exceptionally smart and witty human being with a huge heart and undying determination to ensure our industry was acknowledged for its value on the global stage.”

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Cameron Rasmusson
Cameron Rasmusson is a writer and journalist. His first job out of the University of Montana School of Journalism took him to Sandpoint, Idaho as a staff writer for the Bonner County Daily Bee. Since 2010 he's honed his skills as a writer and reporter, joining the MultiLingual staff as Editor-in-Chief in 2021.

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