I first met Andrew Kaluza in March of 2010 in rural Kentucky even though we were both native Texans. We had come to the bluegrass state to fulfill what I now recognize as an initiatory mission for a cause that would change our lives forever. We were there to help Rand Paul become the next junior senator, although years later Andrew and I would laughingly recall this story as we had since developed a mutual indifference towards day-to-day politicking. After our week in Kentucky, I sensed that Andrew and I would work well together. What I didn’t realize is that he and I would spend the next four years developing a deep brotherly bond that I, an only child, had never quite experienced before.
This wasn’t unique to me, however. I was routinely amazed by Andrew’s uncanny ability to connect meaningfully with everybody he ever met. When he joined the movement for liberty in 2009, he quickly became known for his ability to craft spaces of fellowship — a quality which would ultimately mark his legacy. Andrew was an individual whose optimistic, joyous, and eager spirit defied what outsiders wrongly thought to be a hopeless, terse, and cold cause. Andrew would later say that the cause of liberty was simply about “being good to others.”
For Andrew, the principles of individual liberty, free markets, and peace were ultimately a reflection of his kind, compassionate, sincere and respectful character. It was these traits along with his warm, gentle, happy spirit that won him the admiration of everybody who had the privilege of meeting him.
Andrew was my brother in this common cause we call liberty. We worked together in SFL’s inaugural class of Campus Coordinators, and later we represented Team Texas on SFL’s student-led executive board. While Andrew identified closely with SFL as an international organization, he foremost viewed Texas’ student movement for liberty as his baby. We often laughed at him during executive board discussions when he would preface every statement with “Well, in Texas…” He established the necessary foundations that have led to Texas’ reputation as the strongest region for libertarian student activism in the world. Impressively, the newest SFL executive board recently named Texas its own separate and distinct region, which has in it 30+ incoming Campus Coordinators. Undoubtedly, Andrew would have been thrilled to meet and encourage each leader in the Lone Star region, reminding them that in his time, there were merely four SFL leaders.
I’ve hardly known anybody since Andrew’s days as a student activist who was able to organize so many flighty college kids towards a common purpose. Among Andrew’s proudest achievements in SFL were organizing the Dallas and Austin regional conferences. These events were given a special treatment by Andrew. They were organized as grand celebrations of a crucially urgent cause. As such, he poured forth innumerable hours doing the dirty work: preparing promotional content, making lodging and travel arrangements for those in need, and scheduling the best line up of speakers available.
Logistical details aside, I remember that Andrew insisted upon his conference revolving around a theme, requesting speakers to incorporate an element that would touch on the importance of entrepreneurship and then of empowerment. Andrew was convinced that innovation was the key to reducing the scope of government. Regarding empowerment, he sought to encourage students to see and act on ways to change the world rather than slavishly asking, “How can I help?”
After months of preparation, his conferences were of the highest quality and well attended. In retrospect, it is apparent to me that students not only came to learn the content but also to see Andrew. His affable nature drew hundreds of students to conferences over the years. There was hardly an attendee that didn’t know Andrew personally, and many had been introduced to the cause through him.
It was not through the force of argument that Andrew won over students to our cause, although he was certainly prepared to offer eminently logical cases for a free society. Instead, Andrew was a master of empathy. He was known for greeting everybody with a Texas-style, sweaty bear hug (he’d do so while wearing the kitschiest American tie you ever saw, and he loved for people to kid him about it). When his friends needed a sympathetic ear, he was there to lend one. This applied politically, too. Andrew never conceived of the libertarian movement as a game of intellectual one-upmanship, but instead a very serious effort to spread ideas that he felt would draw the world’s poor and helpless out of desperate poverty. He walked the walk, too. After the fires that plagued Bastrop County, Texas in the summer of 2011, Andrew twice rounded up a group of Young Americans for Liberty chapter members at the University of Texas-San Antonio to help rebuild the home of one family who had lost everything.
It feels strange referring to Andrew by his first name. In SFL, he was always endearingly referred to as Kaluza. During his first executive board retreat I roomed with him along with our colleague and friend Frederick Roeder. Fred being the fun guy he is would help Kaluza wake, but it was in a decidedly German fashion as he would crouch down near Kaluza and chant “KALUZA, KALUZA, KALUZA, KAZAHH!!!” Since that time, Kaluza was welcomed to every party and SFL event with this chant.
The leadership of SFL and the broader liberty movement loved Andrew a great deal. To us, he was a larger than life character, legendary to those who were newcomers to the movement. As such, there will be no shortage of profoundly moving stories that will continue to celebrate the life that Andrew led. In my case, I’m fortunate to have shared a spiritual connection with Andrew, one that I will forever cherish. I’m deeply saddened that so many others won’t have the opportunity to know Andrew personally. He will always serve as the model of what it means to be an effective advocate for liberty. But more than that, Andrew was the quintessence of warmth, humility, positivity, earnestness and kindness. We will miss you, Kaluza, but you will not be forgotten. May you rest in peace, brother.
At this time, there are memorial services planned for Andrew in Texas and Washington D.C. Andrew’s family will be hosting a memorial service on Saturday, July 26th and Students For Liberty will host a celebration of Andrew’s life this Thursday, July 17th.