John Andrews, who founded the Eastern Trail Alliance in 1997, died on February 20 at age 79. Andrews was a tireless advocate and fundraiser for the 65-mile Eastern Trail, which stretches from South Portland to Kittery, Maine, and is a key segment of the East Coast Greenway. In 2012, a bridge on the trail over U.S. Route 1 in Saco was named the “John R. Andrews Bridge” in his honor.
An avid cyclist, Andrews biked from Washington, D.C., to Pittsburgh two years ago, at 77, camping along the way. An all-around outdoorsman, he also led hikes, whitewater canoe trips, and cross-country ski trips and served as chair of Maine’s chapter of the Appalachian Mountain Club.
Carole Brush, executive director of the Eastern Trail Alliance, says Andrews could “work miracles,” as she told the York County Journal Tribune. “Without John’s unbelievable energy and enthusiasm, there simply would not be an Eastern Trail today. His enthusiasm was contagious — he would talk to anyone and everyone sharing his mission, engaging and convincing them to participate.”
“One of the most important meetings when I become executive director was with John and the team he pulled together in southern Maine. He modeled a contagious excitement and tenacity that every other leader can learn from,” says ECGA Executive Director Dennis Markatos-Soriano. “May we all honor him and keep his positive spirit alive.”
“I recall meeting with John within my first year as East Coast Greenway staff,” says New England Coordinator Molly Henry. “He picked me up at the Bicycle Coalition of Maine office. He piled a bunch of Eastern Trail Alliance literature on my lap and took me for an all-day tour of the Eastern Trail. One of the day’s highlights included standing on the Maine Turnpike Bridge and gesturing for trucks to honk. John’s face lit up like a child every time a truck honked back at us. At the end of the day, John insisted that we pay a visit to DiMillo’s on the Water, a floating seafood restaurant in downtown Portland. I have fond memories of him breaking apart lobster pieces and beaming with pride while sharing stories about the inception of the Eastern Trail. His enthusiasm was contagious and his wisdom inspiring.”
“He was a real trail champion and the one who told me about the East Coast Greenway in 2004,” remembers Dave Read, who went on to chair the Board of Trustees of the East Coast Greenway Alliance from 2011 through 2015.
Andrews was predeceased by Marietta, his wife of 51 years. He is survived by two sons, John and Michael, two grandchildren, and two brothers.