Global Spotlight: Scherer-Reutimann Finds Her Forever Home after Years of World Travel

Posted: Monday, April 25th 2016 at 8:53 AM

Stop into the office of the Dean at The W. A. Franke College of Business (FCB) and you’ll find Antoinette Scherer-Reutimann at her desk in the graphic design department–a place staff affectionately refer to as the “creative corner.” Ask her how she ended up at NAU, and you will discover that her professional life wasn’t always, and in fact never was, directed toward her current field, but it did take her around the world and back again.

Born and raised in Sweden by a Swiss father and a Swedish mother (a multicultural household that was uncommon in Sweden at the time), Scherer-Reutimann got a taste of traveling early. Her family traveled extensively in Europe, and she says she knew from the start that she would not spend her whole life in Sweden.

“I had this wanderlust. I just couldn’t be still. So a week after graduation from what would be high school in the U.S., I left,” Scherer-Reutimann says.

In an effort to learn more about her father’s country, she went to work in Switzerland. It was there that she met her future husband–a Swiss chef. They worked together in the hotel industry in the Swiss Alps. The seasonal work was interlaced with travel–working the winter season at the hotel, then taking the month-and-a-half long off season to travel the world. For years those months saw trips to the far corners of her native Europe, Australia, Hawaii, and more before Scherer-Reutimann had the urge to settle down.

“We found opportunities in the Swiss embassy in Washington D.C. to work. My husband was going to work there as a private chef for the Swiss ambassador. So we quit our jobs in Switzerland and bought our tickets,” she remembers.

As what Scherer-Reutimann describes as luck would have it, they never did make it to D.C. Two weeks before she was to leave for her new life in America, a Swiss political scandal shuffled ambassadors to new locations. The Swiss ambassador was moved to Paris, where there was already a stationary chef–and no need for another.

A new opportunity arose soon after, however, when Scherer- Reutimann and her husband were contacted by the previous chef from Washington D.C.–an old friend. What he proposed was intriguing–a Swiss restaurant in Sedona, Arizona.

“He needed our help. He organized our work visa and eventually our green card. My husband went first, then I came over in the summer of 1992,” she says.

The plan was to stay in the area for 2 years–enough time to get the restaurant up and running and to watch it grow. But, as it does, life took things into its own hands.

“I was just… done traveling,” she says.

“We had our first child and stayed a bit longer. We liked the people in Sedona. Then we thought, why don’t we stay? We had ended up in such a beautiful spot. Just a fluke, really,” Scherer-Reutimann says.

Aside from its vast expanses of red rock and forest, Sedona captured her heart in other ways.

“What I really loved about coming here was that when you came across an ‘odd’ person (she recalls one such person roaming the streets of Sedona dressed as Moses), people just accepted it. I loved that. That would not fly in Sweden. You would be looked down upon. There, you fit into this little box, or you get out of the way,” Scherer-Reutimann says.

In 2002, ten years after coming to America and starting her life in Sedona, she sought after yet another adventure.

“I had just gotten a divorce, and I thought I should get an American education. My younger sister had transferred to NAU to finish her schooling, so one day I brought my children and my seven-week-old puppy to campus, went right up to the admissions office, and asked to enroll,” Scherer-Reutimann recalls.

The answer was no. That is, until the office manager saw the puppy. Scherer-Reutimann filled out the necessary paper work, got the proper vaccinations, and was an NAU student by sundown.

 She chose graphic design as her area of study–the same as her sister.

“Growing up, I was always drawing and painting. I come from a family of artists, musicians, and architects on both sides,” Scherer-Reutimann says.

A student position was created at FCB for her while she finished her degree–a helper to graphic design supervisor Theresa Stacy-Ryan. Upon her graduation, a full-time position was created to allow her to continue her work there. She now lives in Oak Creek Canyon and has no intentions of relocating any time soon.

“This is where I belong. I think that if I would have lived 100 years ago during the European immigrations to America, I would have been one of them,” Scherer-Reutimann says.

As for her chronic travel bug, nothing has changed.

“Now that my kids are grown, I will start to travel again. I took a twenty-year break, but I will start again,” she says. 

Categories: antoinette scherer-reutimann global spotlight 2016 spring 2016