By Ellen Marks
Albuquerque Journal, N.M.
WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) Entrepreneur Ioana Engstrom is working on a new company, “Skipti”, a peer-to-peer online rental service that is set to begin a trial run in June. In this one on one interview with Ellen Marks shares her story.
Much of what makes entrepreneur Ioana Engstrom who she is today can be traced to her childhood in Romania, with a father who presided over war crime tribunals and a mother who was an actress.
Her father, Alexandru Ion Petrescu, fought in both world wars and rose to become director of the country’s Supreme Court, she said.
He also helped to rescue a family of Jews when the Nazis took over the Eastern European country, Engstrom said.
It was before she was born, but she knew the story of how he “hid a whole family in our basement, the grandparents, the parents, and he helped them get out,” said Engstrom, a 62-year-old Albuququerque resident.
Later, her father presided over trials involving Nazi war criminals, as well as those who were members of the fascist Iron Guard movement in the years before World War II.
“I will tell you, the only people who came to say thank you when my dad was purged by the communists (and) he retired were all these wonderful Jewish people who ended up in New York or Israel, and when they came through Romania, they would first come to my dad and say hello,” Engstrom said. “My sister found this old list he kept of everybody he helped because it was just outrageous what was going on. So I learned very early on about fairness and about doing the right things, even if it’s extremely tough and you could get in trouble.”
Engstrom said her desire to do the right thing was borne out when she helped bring to the U.S. a Romanian friend who was being held under house arrest.