JACKSONVILLE - Ronald S. Andrews, 89, died unexpectedly at his home on Thursday, August 4.
Known to many of his friends as “Ronnie” or “RA,” he was adamantly independent; loved animals, especially cats; possessed a dry humor; was a devoted (step) father; and had a generosity of spirit that he shared with family and friends. Although he could be a very private person who never wanted to accept help from others, RA was always willing to lend a hand to somebody who needed it.
Born March 27, 1933, in Rochester, NY, he spent his early childhood in Irondequoit, NY, with his parents and younger brother Charles. Later his family moved to Webster, NY, where his father and grandfather built the family home. RA and Chuck were inseparable and would save their money from an after-school job with a local landscaper, Mr. Witt, to buy a motorbike. Together they souped up the bike’s motor and sped around the neighborhood.
After graduating from Webster High School in 1951, RA was drafted into the army and served in Korea. Decades later he would teach his young stepdaughter Olga to meticulously dry between her toes after swimming to guard against jungle rot [trench foot]. He’d say, “Always take care of your feet, little babe. You can’t march far without them.” RA landed in Hawaii after the war and was hired by a Ducati motorcycle dealer as a salesperson. Some of his favorite memories were of traveling the islands via motorcycle.
Upon his return to the Rochester area, RA received training at the Rochester Institute of Technology before taking a job in Eastman Kodak’s A&OD research department. While at Kodak, he was part of the team that built cameras for the early Apollo space missions. A 1966 edition of Kodak’s company newspaper Kodakery - Vol. 24, No. 40 - featured RA receiving a financial bonus for perfecting a method for anodizing parts.
When not at Kodak, RA, Chuck, and a gang of friends operated a motorcycle racing team. RA was the manager-mechanic, and Chuck raced. The team attended tournaments from Canada to Florida, with Chuck winning several awards. In later years RA’s mechanical prowess kept his cars on the road long past the 250,000 mile mark. “250,000 miles, the car barely has fingerprints,” he’d say. Despite all his skills, he claimed that modern technology - answering machines, cell phones, touch-screen coffee makers - was beyond his capacity. He often called Olga to reprogram his TV remote.
RA relocated to Wilmington in the early 1970s. He and a business partner purchased a historic stagecoach inn, The Vermont House, on West Main Street. Under RA’s 30-year ownership, the Vermont House was known for its good sandwiches, a copper-top bar, and awesome Christmas eggnog. RA’s favorite part of being an innkeeper was the people and he often greeted visitors with a big smile and a “Hey, guy!” or a “Hey, hon!” RA also owned Cane’s Tavern. The restaurant closed after being damaged by a fire.
RA maintained a 5 am coffee klatch with friends he called “The Storytellers” after retirement. He loved the Cup ’n’ Saucer’s cinnamon rolls and turnovers. As a father, he ensured his daughter understood how to maintain a car, throw a punch, and stretch a dollar. He never gave up hope that she would someday grasp that the mathematics behind driving for an hour to pay two cents less for a gallon of gas actually saved money. RA stressed the practice of saving money. He made a few exceptions to that rule: “Never skimp on your feet, teeth or education. You’ll need them to carry you through life.”
Like many good people, RA will be sadly missed by his many friends and acquaintances.
He is survived by his stepdaughter Olga Elizabeth Peters; ex-wife Beverly J.T. Cable; niece-in-law Isobel Johnson; and numerous friends who were always there when RA needed them, even if he’d never admit it. He is predeceased by his brother Charles E. “Chuck” Andrews, his parents Catherine J. (Voelkl) and Stuart F. Andrews, and nephew Charles “Chuckie Jr.” Johnson.
Per RA’s wishes, there will be no formal memorial. RA and Chuck’s ashes will be interred in Cutting Cemetery in Jacksonville at the family’s convenience. Donations in lieu of flowers can be made to the Windham County Humane Society, PO Box 397, Brattleboro, VT 05302. Better yet, RA would want mourners to take a friend to breakfast, order the diner’s “loss leader” item, tip well, and pay cash. To send the family personal condolences visit www.sheafuneralhomes.com