Community honors Andrews, dedicates bench
CENTREVILLE — More than 50 people gathered at the old Kennard High School, now the Kennard High School African-American Cultural Heritage Center, to remember the life of Queen Anne’s County educator John F. Andrews on Saturday, Nov. 5.
“We have come to recognize, to remember, to appreciate and to celebrate the life of John F. Andrews,” Maxine West said during the ceremony.
Friends, family and community members listened to speakers share memories they had of Andrews, who was struck by a vehicle running a red light in 2007 in Centreville, as the Kennard Alumni Association Inc. officially memorialized a bench and plaque in his name outside of the refurbished high school.
Andrews was born in South Carolina, earned his bachelor’s and master degrees from AT&T State University in North Carolina and served in the Fourth Armored Division of the United States Army.
Andrews was involved in community activities. He was a member of the MidShore Symphony Society, chairman of the Health Planning Council, a scoutmaster and was instrumental in establishing the Corsica Hills Nursing Home, said Janet Paul, assistant school superintendent.
“We are so proud and so happy to have you here with us today, that you thought it not robbery to come out this morning to honor a man that was so beloved by a community,” said Clayton Washington, president of the Kennard Alumni Association, in opening the ceremony.
Friends and family had the opportunity throughout the hour-long ceremony to share memories they had of Andrews, who began teaching in 1961 and later became vice principal at Queen Anne’s County High School, a position he held until his death.
Deborah Lawrence, assistant principal at Queen Anne’s County High School and the mistress of ceremonies for the dedication, asked the crowd to close their eyes and think of Andrews. She asked how many people could see “Brother John” singing with the choir after the New Life Community United Methodist Church Men’s Choir sang “Hush, Somebody’s Calling My Name.”
Family members of Andrews attended the dedication and were given the opportunity to speak about the community man. Steve Circle, son-in-law to Andrews, spoke about how “Dad” was “very accepting of me into his family, and I’m proud of that.”
Circle recalled the South Carolina recipes Andrews would share with him and how Christmas was “something special.”
“Community, religion and family are the things that were valued to John,” Circle said.
Circle was accompanied by his wife Wanda Circle, daughter of Andrews, and their daughter Ashton Circle. Wanda chose not to speak because she’s “never ever been able to talk about my father without crying, he was that special.”
Andrews’ daughter-in-law Gloria Andrews said, “the one thing I can say for sure is Dad gave us a lot of encouragement to be involved in our community, to be involved in as many things as we were.”
Andrews said the guidance she learned from him in thousands of conversations in the kitchen helped her become a better person and a better employee.
“I never met anyone who didn’t have great respect for him,” Andrews said. “And I mean that dearly. Great, great respect.”
Lawrence thanked the family for attending the dedication and said they were able to see why Andrews was so special, because he started with his family and “extended into the community” and into his religion.
An opportunity was given for spectators to come to the podium and share memories of Andrews. Charles Emory, who sang with Andrews in the New Life Men’s Choir, said he remembered having Andrews as his Boy Scout leader. He said they would go to the grocery store and fill up Andrews’ white Mercury hamburgers, snackpack puddings, potato chips, chicken, “and everything you aint supposed to have when you’re camping.”
Lawrence recalled a conversation they had where Andrews asked her what she wanted to be and told her to get herself together so she could be a vice principal and sit in his same office. Andrews told Lawrence his office was cold, though, so if she had the opportunity, “get the next office,” she told the crowd.
“And I’ve been sitting over at that high school for about six years, and I’m still in that cold office,” Lawrence said. “But you know why I’m okay? It was shared by a warm heart of Mr. Andrews, and as long as I sit at Queen Anne’s County High School, I’m going to remain in that office.”
Washington said a garden will be planted in the spring beside the bench.
The dedication ceremony was made possible by the John Andrews Memorial Fund donors, the Kennard Alumni Association Inc., Murdoch Florist and volunteers Larry Handy, Shelia Shorter, the Town of Centreville and the UME Queen Anne’s County Master Gardeners.
The event committee was made up of Emory, Pauls, Washington and John Wright.
Family members of John F. Andrews stand by the newly dedicated plaque and bench outside of the Kennard High School African American Heritage Center in Centreville on Saturday, Nov. 5. From left: Katya Andrews, Wanda Circle, Steve Circle, Ashton Circle and Maxine West.
John Wright pulls the tarp from on top of the newly dedicated John F. Andrews bench outside of the Kennard High School African American Heritage Center in Centreville on Saturday, Nov. 5.
More than 50 peopled gathered outside of the old Kennard High School on Saturday, Nov. 5, to honor the life of educator and community member John F. Andrews during a dedication ceremony in his name.