John Collins Andrews
John Collins Andrews (1948-2012)
Just 12 days ago, around three o'clock, I was talking with Sarah in my office at the Utility when my cell phone vibrated. It was Ted. "I have bad news", he said. "How bad?" I asked. "JC has stage 4 lung cancer."
Within a few hours, I was sitting next to him on his bed in the hospital. He had thought he might have pneumonia when his son dropped him off at the south Austin hospital just two days before.
Jay turned to me. "Wow, this dying shit is really weird", he says.
There with Jimmy, his long time pal from childhood, Sherry, who looked like his long lost sister, and Dana, the Angel Doctor, we chatted with the oncologist. We chatted about palliative care, about future testing, about money, about wills, power of attorney, about S.S.I, about M.A.P., about who would do what and when.
The oncologist was particularly polite but blunt. "Texas is one of the worst states for someone in your situation, " he said. "You will need a champion...someone who will break through the system...someone who will stubbornly work in your behalf." He said he would give us some time and order some more imaging to see if the cancer was in the brain and in the bone.
Over the next few days, JC's room was busy. Mick brought him Torchy tacos, which Jay ate. His Plainview friend Dee brought soup. Ted, his neighbor, co-worker, former lawyer, and friend hovers like a helicopter parent. Gazork, another boyhood friend flys in from Boise. His son Daryl comes in and out, doing his best to cope with the situation.
Because you see, John Collins Andrews and Susan Bright, the poet/activist were a couple. And just 13 months ago, we had Susan's service at Barton Springs Pool after her short bout with cancer.
By Thursday, plans were finalized. Jimmy and Gazork would drive Jay to a hospice in his boyhood home, Plainview. There he could see his aging mother Dorothy, and meet up with the rest of the family on Friday. The drive took all day, but JC sat up as they drove up the caprock onto the high plains.
On Saturday, Liz, Jay's doctor sister from San Francisco arrives to join their brother James. They all visit as Jay grows weak. I never heard him complain or saw him weep.
At midnight, our brother crossed over.
Liz's obituary captures him pretty well.
John Collins Andrews. Beloved son and brother, cherished father, boundless friend, John Andrews died in Plainview, Texas on February 25th, 2012 after a brief illness. John, known as J.C. to his family and close friends, was such a colorful person. He lived on his own terms in many ways, forever questioning the status quo but also taking time to appreciate all that was around him. In equal measure he could passionately discuss the politics of wind and water or convey an infectious wonderment in the geologic formation of the Llano Estacado.
John was active in the evolution of capturing the wind power of the Panhandle and an advocate of the Save Our Springs (SOS) Initiative in Austin.
John was born April 26, 1948 in Lubbock, Texas. He liked to say that Buddy Holly lived on his block. He loved his West Texas roots and returned often. He graduated from the University of St.Thomas in Houston with a degree in history. There he was introduced to the art scene of the DeMenil’s and to the era of independent film production. John was an early guerrilla documentary film maker when the art was first developing and he had a special talent for editing that was well respected and recognised in the film community.
After graduation and travels, John settled in Austin where he and wife Susan Bright later established the venerable Plain View Press and began publishing poetry, essays and other literature. This literary venture spanned over 25 years.
John discovered his love of street vending when he and a friend created the very first “rolling armadillo” toy and began selling on the drag at the 24th Street Market sometime around 1971. This evolved into, and thus began, the tradition of having a booth with his family at the Armadillo Christmas Bazaar every year and providing a lively place for friends and visitors to stop by and chat, purchase literature, jewelry and trinkets, and enjoy stimulating conversations. Truth be told, John was known for giving away almost as much as he sold mostly because John loved the conversations as much as the sale.
John was a true renaissance man, equally at ease at art openings and political meetings as he was working on carpentry projects in his garage or in a bass boat on the lake. John was a friend to, and involved with, so many different groups of people in Austin it would be impossible to name them all without leaving some out. Moreover, his dedication, loyalty and love for his friends, and especially his family and his son, Daryl, is one of his most endearing and memorable traits.
John was preceded in death by his father, John P. Andrews, and his wife, Susan Bright. He is survived by his mother, Dorothy Andrews and brother, James Andrews both of Plainview, sister Liz Andrews of San Francisco, CA, son, Daryl Bright Andrews and grandson, Tristen Cinelli of Austin.
A celebration with family of John’s life is planned for this summer in West Texas somewhere near the Caprock where the wind blows. In lieu of flowers, the family requests donation to Physicians for a National Health Program (PNHP.org), a healthcare reform advocacy group.
JC, as much as anyone in my life made ideas manifest. He made the video documentary of my Pampa Wind Farm in 1981. He helped me build my first passive solar houses. He was the contractor when Eddie and Phil and I completely rebuilt Sholz Garden in 1987. He helped me manage my West Campus properties during the real estate black death of 1988.
In the nineties, we went west and put up the first met towers to pave the way for the wind industry 10 years later. He shot (and lost) my first attempt to create a light bending solar laser in the bowels of the UT Austin physics lab. He helped me build my Frank Lloyd Wrong home in Elgin and countless other projects.
He even cut all of the little tiny pieces that we used to build Argonon, so I could build that giant model City of the Future.
In the last 10 years, I was busy at the Utility and he was busy with Plainview Press. He also truly found his calling working on the street, tying those beautiful knots to carry those gods and deities from his trinket wheel.
When Susan passed, he asked me to direct the service.
JC was as important to me (and so many others)
as track is to a train.
And he is right....
"This dying shit is weird."
Over the last few years,
we would always say goodby by saying
"love you Brother."
love you Brother...
Note: There is a JCA Memorial Altar forming at 1509 Dexter. Please bring flowers and mementos....a central texas service has not been planned yet.
Important...There is a memorial for JC Tuesday, March 6th at 5:30 at Marias Taco Express, 2529 South Lamar