August 29, 2013

Feature obituary: Irma Andrews, talented in math and motherhood, dies at 85

By Melanie Creamer
Staff Writer

PORTLAND – Friends and family gathered Wednesday night at Jones, Rich and Hutchins Funeral Home to pay tribute to Irma Andrews, a dedicated employee of the former Union Mutual Insurance Company, who balanced work and family with grace and ease.

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Irma Andrews

Family photo


Each day the newsroom selects one obituary and seeks to learn more about the life of a person who has lived and worked in Maine. We look for a person who has made a mark on the community or the person's family and friends in lasting ways

Mrs. Andrews, 85, died on Saturday after a suffering a stroke. She had suffered from a progressive form of dementia for the past nine years.

She grew up in Portland and attended Portland High School, where she excelled in academics. She graduated in 1946 and attended Bates College to pursue a degree in mathematics. There, she met Robert Andrews, her husband for 53 years. The couple married in 1951 after she received her degree. His military career took her to Germany, where she gave birth to twins.

The Andrews eventually settled in Portland's North Deering neighborhood. Soon after, she began a 34-year career with the former Union Mutual Insurance Company. She was hired as a pension's technician and later worked in the company's computer systems department.

"The mathematical part of her brain functioned well in straddling those two areas," said her son, David R. Andrews, MD, of Falmouth. "She enjoyed her work very much. Intellectually, it was stimulating for her. It was more than a job for her. She felt that she was really helping out the team."

Mrs. Andrews retired around 1993.

She was remembered by her family this week as a strong, intelligent and capable woman, who balanced her career with family.

"She was both smart and driven to do something other than raise the kids. She still managed to do that very well," her son said.

Dr. Andrews reminisced about taking day trips throughout Maine with his parents. He noted their frequent trips to Long Island, where the family gathered during the summer. He recalled visiting the Brunswick Summer Playhouse. He said it's where they developed a fondness for musical theatre. He said his parents were stern, but loving and encouraged them to do their best.

"They impressed upon us the importance of scholarship and doing well in school, but they weren't overbearing," he said. "They didn't consider less-than-perfect grades as a sign of failure. They wanted to see us doing our best."

Mrs. Andrews had a passion for travel and history. She traveled to Europe, the Caribbean, and Alaska and throughout the southern states.

In her later years, she volunteered as a tax counselor and helped elderly residents prepare their taxes. She also had a lifelong passion for animals and owned a horse at one point in her life.

About six years ago, she moved to the Woods at Canco in Portland. A year ago, she developed a heart condition. Earlier this month, she suffered a stroke, her son said.

"I miss the stories of our family's past," her son said. "She was an incredible assembler of photo albums. Alzheimer's sucks that part of an individual's persona away in the dark of night, and one day you realize it's not there anymore."


Staff Writer Melanie Creamer can be contacted at 791-6361 or at:


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