Andy is my friend. We are kindred spirits, throwbacks to old-school newsrooms that were full of characters.
Andy’s busy tonight. He’s getting ready to help some people who desperately need help.
Andy is, among a vast circle of friends, a legend. A burly, flat-topped, gregarious, swaggering legend.
Sometime in the next 24 hours, Andy will pass into legend.
Andy was sitting in the newsroom on Monday night, watching the 10 p.m. news. He had what his family calls “a significant brain incident.” Maybe a stroke, maybe an aneurysm. We don’t know.
Andy is 38.
Tomorrow morning, Andy will head to the operating room. He’ll be working with the organ procurement team from Madison, giving some other folks what they so urgently need.
Later on, we’ll say goodbye to Andy. Wherever they have it, there won’t be room enough for all of Andy’s friends.
A former football lineman who stood 6-foot-5, Andy spent his vacations working security at Summerfest in Milwaukee and at Brat Days in Sheboygan, where we both grew up. He covered cops, courts and fires and loved hanging with those folks. He worked at a bar on the side. He organized summer cookouts in the parking lot, Mardi Gras potlucks in the newsroom and countless other adventures. He quietly did countless small, random acts of kindness that no one ever found out about.
About now, Andy probably would demand that I shut the fuck up.
OK, how about a little Buffett, then?
“Growing Older But Not Up,” Jimmy Buffett, from “Coconut Telegraph,” 1980.
“Lovely Cruise,” Jimmy Buffett, from “Changes In Latitudes, Changes In Attitudes,” 1977.
It has been a lovely cruise. Peace, my man.
Postscript: Andy Nelesen passed into legend shortly after noon on Thursday, Jan. 28, 2010. According to Andy’s family, his death was caused by a burst blood vessel in the pons area of the brain stem.
A second postscript: Since Andy passed on Thursday, we have been treated to some gorgeously sunny days and some beautifully moonlit nights. Those nights have been so bright, the moon casts shadows on the snow. OK, pal, now you’re just showing off.