John Andrews, known as the founder of the Eastern Trail and a leader of the Appalachian Mountain Club, died on Monday. He was 79.
Andrews started the Eastern Trail Alliance in 1997 and was the driving force behind the creation of the 65-mile, multi-use trail that extends from Kittery to South Portland. In 2012, the alliance dedicated a pedestrian bridge over Route 1 in Saco to Andrews.
“Without John’s unbelievable energy, enthusiasm, there simply would not be an Eastern Trail today,” said Carole Brush, executive director for the Eastern Trail Alliance.
Andrews is credited with securing funds to complete sections of the trail in the Kennebunks, Old Orchard Beach, Saco, and the trail’s most iconic portion, through the Scarborough Marsh.
Brush said he was persistent, but patient, and made tremendous progress in a short amount of time.
“His enthusiasm was contagious,” Brush said. “He would talk to anyone and everyone sharing his mission, engaging and convincing them to participate. John could work miracles. When times were tough and things were moving slow, he never let up and truly lived his motto of ‘Patience, persistence and politeness’ to overcome obstacles, move forward with this trail, and make the world a better place.”
In December, Town & Country Federal Credit Union donated $100,000 toward filling 1.6-mile gap in the Eastern Trail running through Scarborough. The alliance still needs roughly $600,000 to complete the section. Work on the pathway is expected to begin in 2018. When the section is complete, it will have 16 miles of continuous, off-road access from Bug Light in South Portland to downtown Saco.
Andrews’ passion for the outdoors began as a boy, hunting and fishing in Farmingdale. He passed on his love of the outdoors to his two sons.
“He was an awesome dad,” said Michael Andrews of Croton-on-Hudson, New York. “He always had time for us. Every summer we would go with him to Bar Harbor and go bicycling on the Carriage Roads in Acadia. He was extremely curious. If he saw something, he wanted to find out more about it.”
He was a loving husband to his wife, Marietta Andrews, for 51 years. The couple lived in Saco. She died in 2012.
He spent his career working as an electronics design engineer.
According to his obituary, which was published in Thursday’s newspaper, Andrews was granted nine patents for computer chip designs, including one for the world’s first 64-bit semiconductor memory chip.
In the fall of 1981, Andrews and his wife moved from Massachusetts to Saco.
He went to work for Fairchild Semiconductor and retired around 1996.
With time on his hands, Andrews dove into life. In addition to founding the Eastern Trail Alliance, which oversees the trail, he founded the Saco Valley Land Trust and Saco Bay Trails.
Andrews also became a registered Maine guide and was active in the Maine chapter of the Appalachian Mountain Club. Over the years, he led several full-moon paddles to coastal islands and many full-moon ski trips up Cadillac Mountain’s auto road.
Last May, Andrews spent several days riding his bicycle through France. His son said he took a side trip to England to visit friends and flew to Iceland for a couple of days.
“He went indoor skydiving in his late 70s,” his son said. “It was a blast. My daughter was there. She could go to school and brag … ‘I just went skydiving with my grandfather.’ He was like a kid till the end. He was up for anything.”
Melanie Creamer can be contacted at 791-6361 or at: