Professor Emeritus Ira L. Andrews III '59
The Randolph-Macon College community mourns the loss of Professor Emeritus Ira L. Andrews III ’59, who died on August 16, 2012 after a lengthy illness.
Andrews was a beloved member of the R-MC community for more than 50 years.
As a student, Andrews was inducted into the Phi Beta Kappa National Honor Society and was a member of Omicron Delta Kappa, Clericus and the R-MC Glee Club. After graduating from R-MC and earning a master of divinity degree from Emory University, he returned to his alma mater as a professor of religious studies and was later appointed to serve as dean of students, a role that he held for 35 years. Andrews was instrumental in leading students through difficult times such as the Vietnam War era and worked admirably through historic milestones, including the college’s change from an all-male campus to a co-educational one. Andrews served under five R-MC presidents.
“I had numerous opportunities to work with Ira since my arrival here in 2006, and he was a truly remarkable person,” says R-MC President Robert R. Lindgren. “He was a gentle spirit—kind-hearted, compassionate—as well as a gifted scholar. Ira’s love for Randolph-Macon and this community was obvious the moment you met him, and his contributions and commitment to the betterment of his alma mater were unparalleled. Our hearts are with his family and he will be deeply missed.”
“Ira’s life made manifest the scriptural value that greatness is achieved by becoming the servant of others,” says R-MC Provost William Franz. “While he never sought personal glory, he certainly personified the servant. I had the good fortune to travel with Ira to post-Katrina New Orleans with a class of our students. Not only did he outwork everyone on the trip in his physical labor on behalf of the residents, his compassion and kindness extended beyond those impacted by the storm to everyone he encountered, and most especially to each of us, his traveling companions.”
A celebrated educator, Andrews earned a reputation for being organized and enthusiastic. He was the recipient of the Samuel Nelson Gray Distinguished Professor Award, the United Methodist Exemplary Teaching Award, the Nöe-Kilgore Award and the R-MC Society of Alumni Faculty Service Certificate of Appreciation. In retirement, Andrews continued cheerfully to serve the college as mentor, advisor and supportive friend. He was also a member of the R-MC Board of Trustees Subcommittee on Church Relations and served on the Board of Directors for Randolph-Macon’s A. Purnell Bailey Pre-Ministerial Program for Ordained Ministry.
Andrews was awarded an Honorary Doctor of Humanities Degree from Randolph-Macon during its Commencement ceremony on May 29, 2010. In July 2010, Andrews’ contributions to the college were celebrated at a dedication and ribbon-cutting ceremony to commemorate a new seating area established in his name, which is positioned along the Janet Harvey Trivette ’78 Alumni Walkway.
In October 2011, the college celebrated the dedication of Andrews Hall, a new residence for freshmen. Construction of the Hall was made possible with a lead gift from Stuart and Frank E. “Pepper” Laughon ’59. Andrews and his wife Anne were visibly moved by the ceremony, and Andrews’ speech evoked tears from many audience members: “Anne and I are grateful for the high privilege we have enjoyed of decades of companionship with this excellent and caring community of faculty and staff, and of adventures with generations of wonderful students,” Andrews said.
In recent years, Andrews was interviewed for several R-MC publications, including the 2012 summer/fall issue of The Magazine for Randolph-Macon.
Andrews was very active in civic and religious organizations. He served as president and state director for the Virginia and National Association of Student Personnel Administrators. He also served on the Virginia Conference of the United Methodist Church Conference Board of Higher Education Ministries, Global Ministries, Ordained Ministry, the Council of Ministries and as secretary of the Patrick Henry Family YMCA. He was a proud member of the Duncan Memorial United Methodist Church choir, served as a Sunday-school teacher, and was a member of the Hanover County Council of PTAs and the Board of Directors for Ashland Volunteer Rescue Squad.
Andrews lived in Ashland, Virginia with his wife Anne. In addition to Anne, he is survived by a son, Ira “Skip” Lee Andrews IV, a daughter, Gwendolyn Howell Andrews, and grandchildren Jefferson Douglas Andrews, John Baird Andrews, and Andrew Garland Lane.
Memorial contributions may be made to the Ira Andrews Distinguished Lecture Program and sent to either of these addresses: Duncan Memorial United Methodist Church, P.O. Box 247, Ashland, VA 23005 or Randolph-Macon College, P.O. Box 5005, Ashland, VA 23005.
Over the years, Andrews made a significant impact on the lives of many. Below, members of the Randolph-Macon College community share their memories.
Luther W. White III, 12th President of R-MC from 1967 to 1979:
“By 1967, Ira Andrews had been dean of students for a year or so. He came to see me and disclosed that he had the opportunity to attend graduate school, probably resulting in a doctorate in religion and a career as a professor, but that he preferred to remain and make his career in student affairs. I, of course, urged him to stay on at Randolph-Macon, and the rest is history! He was a superb counselor in all student matters. In the difficult years that all the colleges experienced, the ’60s and ’70s, Dean Ira Andrews managed student life with sensitivity for the students and with fidelity to the values that Randolph-Macon College treasured. Students who came in the ’80s and ’90s will testify that Dean Andrews had the same care for them. Dean Andrews had those gifts, which benefited all students over those 45 years. All of us who were in contact with him over those years pay tribute to him.”
Ladell Payne, President Emeritus; 13th President of R-MC from 1979-1997:
“When I arrived in 1979, Ira was as we have always known him—enthusiastic, unfailingly good natured, and always willing to try a new idea. At 41, he was already the Administration’s institutional memory. It was Ira who could tell the cabinet that some proposal or another ‘was not the Randolph-Macon way.’ And Anne was always there to help Jean with the programs she inaugurated to involve the Trustees’ spouses. Ira and Anne became far more that a dean and a dean’s wife: they were among our dearest friends.”
Roger H. “Rusty” Martin, President Emeritus; 14th President of R-MC from 1997 to 2006:
“Every college has at least one iconic figure and Ira Andrews was certainly one of these for Randolph-Macon. A loyal alum, a popular professor and an effective dean, Ira played many important roles at R-MC and had an enormous impact on generations of students. But I have a much more personal memory of Ira. During my own fight with cancer in 2000, Ira was always supportive with encouragement and with prayers. He will be missed by many people.”
Jerry Garris, Former Dean of R-MC:
"I loved being around my dear friend and fellow dean Ira Andrews. We lived across the street from each other, we celebrated our birthdays together on the same day, we took vacations together, and we learned so much from each other. Always positive, enthusiastic about new experiences, generous in his praise of others and humble with respect to his own accomplishments, he was the avatar of colleagues. How fortunate I am to have served the College with him. Committed teacher, zealous administrator, wise counselor, the foundation of his character was virtue and evenhandedness towards all. I believe his monuments are not to be seen carved in stone, but in the hearts and lives of those he touched."
Alan B. Rashkind ’69, Chair of the R-MC Board of Trustees:
“Like so many, I have had the great good fortune to have known Ira Andrews as an engaging professor, an incredible Dean of Students, an inspiring mentor, and a dear friend. Ira looked for, and by dint of his faith in us, most often found the best in all people, and motivated so many to be better than we thought we could be. Randolph-Macon is so much the better place for Ira's love for and devotion to his alma mater, just as so many he touched are better people for his example and inspiration. We should all pause to give sincere thanks for the extraordinary privilege of having known Ira.”
Frank E. “Pepper Laughon Jr. ’59, member, R-MC Board of Trustees:
“Ira and I lived in the same dormitory and needless to say, we made many memories together that we have enjoyed recounting over the years. We survived the bows and arrows for 14 years of serving together with Students Affairs and Greek Life on our campus. We never had a cross word in all of our endeavors. We did have plenty of cross words aimed at us but were lucky enough to dodge the bullets. Little did I know that decades later, in 2011, Ira and I would have a chance to break in the new Andrews Residence Hall together. That facility is more than bricks and mortar, it is a tribute to a man who truly cared about each person he encountered and dedicated his life to the betterment of this school. Ira left an indelible mark on each of us – that is his legacy.”
Kathryn Hull, Senior Associate Dean of Students:
“Ira was like the North Star pointing one in the right direction while teaching powerful lessons on love, faith and hope. Though we can no longer linger in his presence, the afterglow of his life well-lived will forever lift our hearts and light our memories with joy!”
A memorial service to honor Ira Andrews was held at 10:30 a.m. on Saturday, September 1 at Duncan Memorial United Methodist Church.