The story of the (Don) Andrews Family. Originally written in June, 2011 in preparation for their 60th wedding anniversary on June 26, to give during a slide presentation. Modified on February 11, 2015.
On October 18, 1933, the Lord saw that it was good to bless the Andrews family with a new son they lovingly called Don. Don was the youngest of 4 children. The oldest was Mary Lucille, then Son, Charlie, and finally Don.
Don’s childhood was about like any other boy’s was who grew up in Diamond Hill, Fort Worth during the 1930’s & 40’s. He and his cousins often spent their days playing in and around the old Fort Worth Stockyards (back when they really were stockyards), swinging back & forth on the big cattle gates. Don’s daddy worked at Armor’s, which was the meat packing plant just up the hill. In spite of the depression and hard times, they did alright.
In the mean while, not too far from Northside was the little community of Riverside, where on April 11, 1934, the Lord saw that it was good to bless the Felts family with their first baby girl, MaryLou. MaryLou wound up being the oldest of 3 girls. Five years after she was born came Sonja, and five years after that came Dawn.
As with so many families back then, war interrupted and changed family life. I remember seeing a picture of MaryLou and Sonja as small children waiting at the train station in Dallas, about to say goodbye for now to their daddy, who was headed off to war.
Along about when Don was 14, he became a “Drug Runner” (OH MY) for the P&M Drug Store off the corner of Belknap and Haltom Road. By the way, a drug runner, back then, was someone who delivered pharmaceuticals and prescriptions to customers at their homes. What were you thinking it meant? There used to hang on the wall of the Andrews’ house a terrific picture of 14 year old Don in the ’47 Crosley pick-up truck that he drove for P&M. What, he didn’t wait until he was 16 to start driving?
When Don wasn’t delivering prescriptions, he was working the soda fountain in the drug store. I remember him telling me with a gleam in his eye that back then, people who operated the fountain were called “Soda Jerks”. I’m not sure which is worse, being knows as a Drug Runner or a Soda Jerk! Even still, Don could make you the best root beer float you’ve ever tasted, and serve it up in a nice tall, frosty mug.
One night a couple of years later while working the fountain in walked MaryLou with a group of her friends from Carter High School, and just like the song says, it was “Hello MaryLou, Goodbye Heart”! Don never had eyes for another woman from that moment forward. Their first date was a football game between Birdville and Diamond Hill. Diamond Hill lost that night 45 to zero, and graffiti from that game can still be read on a bridge underpass near Trail Driver’s park!
Over time Don knew he wanted to be with MaryLou for the rest of his life. Don’s daddy had one stipulation, that Don had to have a job that paid well enough to support a family. Don decided the perfect job to have was the United States Navy, where during the Korean war he worked on the F9 Panther planes.
He eventually came home for MaryLou, and on June 26, 1951, two hearts were joined together as one. Sometime later as a wedding gift, Uncle Sam decided to send the couple to Hawaii. Getting MaryLou to Hawaii with, by then, two little boys who were both less than 16 months old, was quite a feat. She traveled from Fort Worth to Los Angeles by plane and arrived too late that day to catch the scheduled plane to Hawaii. Devastated, the young, naive MaryLou thought she would have no other choice but to turn around and go home, but the ticket agent assured her there would be another flight out again the next day. It took all night to get there! Quite different from travel today.
Don, while waiting in the meantime, so excited that his young bride was coming, went out and purchased a new set of pots, pans, and dishes. Having the table set when MaryLou finally arrived, with notes in the pot that read “beans”, and on the plates that read “steak”. Little did he know at the time that she didn’t yet know how to cook!
Now the two little boys I mentioned were Tom and Mike, who were born in 1950 and 1952. The February following when Don got out of the Navy, Pat was born at St. Joseph’s hospital in Fort Worth. That was 1955. Four years later, in January of 1959, Mark was born.
Eventually Don came to work for an airline back then known as Trans Texas, or “TT”, which was jokingly called “Tree Top” airlines by its employees. TT’s first jet was acquired in 1967 and fondly referred to as “Smut Butt”, due to the black smoke trail it left behind. Trans Texas eventually became known as Texas International, which became known as Continental Airlines, which was eventually acquired by United. Don & MaryLou traveled many places with TT, including Arkansas, which is where mom (the sports fan of the family) first became a fan of the Arkansas Razorbacks!
Next came Waco. Upon moving to Waco & driving around the Baylor University campus for the fun of it, mom happened to notice they were playing against Arkansas that week, with a big banner on school grounds that read “BEAR-B-Q the Razorbacks”! Rolling down her window, she yelled at the top of her voice “SUUUU-EY PIG” to the students who were on campus. My mother the rebel!
Don & MaryLou were living in Waco in 1963 when Kennedy was shot. It was that same year that the children living in the house across the street came running in and screaming for “Mr. Don” that there was a stranger in their house, a robber! Don ran across the street and found the man hiding under a bed. He pulled him out form under the bed and physically kicked the man out of the house! My dad the hero!
Well, we can’t leave Waco without announcing the arrival of one little girl among all those boys, with the birth of Mary Lisa in August of 1965. The doctor said when he walked out to tell Don it was a little GIRL, the hall lit up like a Christmas tree.
Life for the Andrews family finally settled down for a bit in Bedford Texas. MaryLou, when young, had a secret desire to attend Texas A&M University to obtain a degree in Horticulture, even though they did not allow women to attend that university back then. Instead, she graciously embraced being a wife and mom, and eventually became a school bus driver for H.E.B. Schools.
Birdville Baptist church was the first church they attended on a regular basis. In 1851, this church just so happened to also be where corn cob pipe smoking Great Granny Andrews became a charter member. They had become friends with many people at Birdville, including life-long friend Dorothy Parker, who had some years before been a nurse for their oldest son Tommy during the time he had polio. But because they lived in Bedford at the time and Birdville was in Haltom City, mom eventually felt they needed to look for a church home that was a bit closer. This eventually led them to Bellevue Baptist church in Hurst, where the young Pastor at the time was none other than Doug White. MaryLou said the first sermon she ever heard preached by Brother Doug was on the Bread of Life, and knew in that moment they had just found their new church home.
So many things happened while living in the little house in Bedford. Vietnam came and took with it for a while first Tommy, then Mike, and eventually Pat. All returned home, and Tom & Mike eventually married. The Lord again saw fit to bless the Andrews family with Shanda and Kathy, and the two couples began having families of their own.
Mission trips in the 1970’s for Don and MaryLou included Honduras as well as parts of the United States, all through an organization called “Builders for Christ”. One of these trips specifically led Don & MaryLou to Craig, Colorado when at week’s end while giving testimonies, Don mentioned that “my wife and I love it so much here that if we had a job, we’d be tempted to stay”. Well, he had 3 job offers by the night’s end.
After much prayer and consultation with the rest of the family, Don decided to give up a 19 year career with the airlines and move to Craig. The family at that time consisted of MaryLou and Lisa. Mark had also joined the military and was stationed with his new young wife, Mary, in Germany. Tom, Shanda, Mike, & Kathy’s families were growing, and Pat had launched a career as a long-haul truck driver. The job dad accepted was delivering mud chemicals to oil fields located throughout Colorado. MaryLou was able to get a job in Craig once again driving a school bus, and quickly discovered the difference between suburb streets in the south and dirt farm roads often covered in snow in the west.
Even though the bottom fell out of the oil business just a couple of years later (in the 1980’s) and caused Don & MaryLou to move back to Texas, Craig proved to be a pivotal milestone in their lives. Marylou left the 70’s as a “Woman’s Libber” and entered the 80’s as a Reagan loving conservative, proving yet again the humorous saying that “if you are not a Democrat in your 20’s you have no heart, but if you are not a Republican by your 40’s, you have no brain”.
Spiritually, the 80’s for Don & MaryLou became a transition from a religion by rote into a relationship by heart (from the average form of Christianity into a living walk with Christ). Don eventually came to work as the Custodian for Lake Country Baptist Church and School. It was through Lake Country that a small group was blessed to begin its life and own fellowship in the cafeteria at Bell High School. Don brought the first pulpit to this fellowship, and each Sunday continued to bring it, two baby beds, and sometimes a portable Jacuzzi the fellowship used as a baptismal. This new, young fellowship back then became better known over the years as Restoration Church in Euless, TX, where Don would serve as the Minister of Maintenance for many years to come. This title was lovingly bestowed upon Don as not only was he the maintenance man, he oftentimes could be found ministering to folks as they came into the church! The first man called to be the Pastor of Restoration? Doug White!
Don & MaryLou went on many mission trips in the 80’s and 90’s with many different church members and long time friends like Don and Jeannie Copeland, and Bill & Jackie Miner. They made several trips to Mexico together. Don Andrews and Don Copeland took two donated school busses filled with a boiler and 200 mattresses and drove them (yes, DROVE them) with a small group of men down to El Salvador, delivering them all to prisons in San Salvador. Mom also received a personal word from the Lord in the late 90’s to attend a mission trip headed by Restoration to Irkutsk, Siberia. She has many sweet memories from there, including a woman she tenderly calls her “little Babushka” who she had a picture of holding one of the dozen or so pressed handkerchiefs belonging to MaryLou’s grandmother. Marylou had felt impressed to take the handkerchiefs with her for the purpose of giving them away. Don, who loved to laugh, had a favorite saying the whole time she was gone and for several months after was that he had “sent his wife to Siberia”.
In the meanwhile, grand babies were being born and family members were being added. In June of 1990, Pat and Priscilla were married. By the close of the 20th Century, Don & MaryLou had three daughter-in-laws, 11 grand children, and had been living in the house MaryLou had grown up in for the past 11 years. Sadly, the end of this century also included the first death of one of their grand children, Marcus.
The year 2002 had tragedy strike again with the passing of Pat’s wife, Priscilla. Later that year they all joined on a happier note to celebrate the gaining of a new son-in-law, Lisa’s husband Uwe.
All totaled, Don and MaryLou were the Patriarch and Matriarch of 5 children, 3 children-in-laws, 11 grand children, and 16 great grandchildren. This brings me sadly to May 14, when they lost another grandson, Rob. Within a few weeks later, MaryLou was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer. We lost Don in December of 2011, and Marylou in July of 2013. They celebrated 60 years of marriage before their passing. May Christ be glorified today in the lives of the family they left behind.
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