By Robert Kimmel–
Leonard Delessio Andrew was often honored for his numerous services and commitments to the community during his lifetime, and the tributes have continued following his death. Andrew died Saturday, July 10, at his residence, Kendal on Hudson in Sleepy Hollow. He was 79.
The cause of death was described as “atypical pneumonia,” which he apparently contracted after flying to Minneapolis to visit his daughter Elizabeth. He is survived by his two daughters, Elizabeth Jarred Andrew and Marcy Andrew, several grandchildren, a sister, Carol Delessio and brother David Church. Andrew’s wife, Helen, whom he met in college and married in 1966, passed away in 2016.
Andrew’s contributions to the community took many forms, often using his skills as an attorney to assist the organizations with which he was associated. Born in Brooklyn on November 16, 1941, his two years in the military were followed by his graduating from Lafayette College and then achieving his law degree at St. John’s University School of Law. There, he was Editor-In-Chief of the Law Review.
At the start of his legal career, Andrew clerked briefly in the United States District Court, followed by 30 years of employment with IBM, including as its General Counsel for IBM Asia/Pacific, working in Tokyo, Japan from 1990 to 1994. Upon retiring from IBM, he turned to not-for-profit corporate law beginning in 1999. He also was a commercial panel arbitrator of the American Arbitration Association.
The list of organizations to which Andrew generously devoted his time and skills is extensive. For more than 20 years he was on the Board of the Family YMCA at Tarrytown, including three years as its Chair. He was a Board member at the RSHM Life Center and the Sleepy Hollow Cemetery, where he served as President. He also served as a board member on the Childhood Center at Memorial United Methodist Church, the Asbury Terrace Housing Corp, and the Pocantico River Watershed Conservancy.
Andrew volunteered legal advice to the International Senior Lawyers Project and became involved with the Westchester Dr. Martin Luther King Institute for non-violence, the American Muslim Women’s Association, the Girl Scouts, WESPAC Foundation, and the Interfaith Connection and was an active member of the Rotary Club of the Tarrytowns, serving as its President for a term.
He worked to found the local Transplant Support Organization, (TSO), and become a member of its Board of Directors following a serious health problem which included two kidney transplants. The first took place in 1981 after he was informed that he had kidney failure. Complications led to a second transplant in 2010. The TSO’s persistence in lobbying Albany legislators led to rules lowering the age of transplant donors and also to a law requiring driver-license applicants to check a box saying they would or would not like to register as an organ donor.
Upon his wife’s death in 2016, Andrew moved from his home in Sleepy Hollow to Kendal on Hudson. He had been on its Board, beginning in 2005, for nine years and served as its Chair for three years. “From the earliest days of his service working on the Board Development and Community Relations Committees, Len was a great ambassador for Kendal in the local area, working with many local charities,” said Pamela Klapproth, Kendal’s Executive Director and CEO. “As Chair of the Board Development committee, he broadened the Board of Directors to include many local experts.”
Klapproth noted that Andrew’s succession to become Chair was at a critical time, in December 2006,“… upon the unexpected death of our existing Board Chair,” adding, “Len was the right man…to bring a steady hand to a situation that might have been highly disruptive.” She also lauded him for seeing Kendal through many milestones, which included “developing our first post-opening Strategic Plan which led to Kendal becoming a highly regarded organization in our community. He devoted hundreds of hours to this work – participating ex-officio in every Board Committee and bringing leadership to early fundraising efforts.”
Kendal’s current Board Chair, Howard Smith, formerly Superintendent of the Public Schools of the Tarrytowns, also praised Andrew. “By his many outstanding qualities, not the least of which were his intellect, thoughtfulness, integrity, and unwavering moral compass, he was widely regarded as a pillar of the community and Kendal. His was truly a life well-lived.”
“The Rotary Club of the Tarrytowns will greatly miss our longtime member, Len Andrew,” began a statement from that group provided by President Mimi Godwin. “Len played a vital role in the success of the Club and has been honored with the Paul Harris Award, the highest award given by Rotary International,” she noted. “Len exemplified Rotary’s motto, ‘Service Above Self.’”
A fellow attorney, David Cartenuto, stated, “I first met Len at IBM in 1972 when I joined the IBM Law Department. He was one of the most balanced people I ever met in terms of his work/family relationships.” Noting all of the endeavors in which Andrew was involved, Cartenuto said, “He was always busy, but never showed it! He was always approachable and had the same demeanor throughout the almost 50 years that I knew him, a great mentor and friend.” Cartunato quoted Shakespeare, ‘“This above all else, to thine own self be true, and you shall be false to no man.’ This sums up Len,” he added.
“I have known Len for nearly 50 years,” said Rotarian Aubrey Hawes, “There is no person I have ever known who I admire more. He was generous in every way. He gave freely of his talents and time to not-for-profit organizations across the country as well as to individuals. He was an inspiration. I consider myself fortunate to have been able to call him friend.”
Andrew was described as an “absolutely wonderful man” by Richard Rose, historian and Rotary member. “Len was a natural leader, oftentimes somewhat quiet about it. He rarely said no to any request for his time, money or expertise,” Rose said. “Len truly loved helping others, particularly local nonprofits. He was a jewel, a wonderful friend and companion. If I could choose my own brother, Len would be at the top of the list.”
The retiring Director of the Warner Library, Maureen Petry, expressed her sadness at learning of Andrew’s death and recalled, “He and Helen were wonderful friends and supporters of the Children’s Room at the library. In Helen’s memory, Len created a mediation garden at the library that can be enjoyed outside and also viewed from a story room window.” Andrew maintained contact with the children’s room staff, Petry noted.
Others provided their feelings about Andrew: “Len was so generous and engaging. A true gentleman,” offered Christopher Borsari, Superintendent of the Public Schools of the Tarrytowns. “He was truly one of the good guys,” Rabbi David Holtz of Temple Beth Abraham, added. Rotarian Margaret Black, said, “Len was a special person who helped so many without looking for acknowledgement for himself. He will be missed.”
Andrew received many awards:
Pro Bono Counsel of the Year, Senior Lawyer’s Division, American Bar Association, 2001
Honoree of the Year, Sleepy Hollow Chamber of Commerce, 2004
Honoree, American Muslim Women’s Association, 2005
Distinguished Service Award, Pro Bono Partnership, 2008
Recognition and Service Award, Transplant Support Organization, 2010
Laurance Rockefeller Award, Family YMCA at Tarrytown, 2011
Trustee of the Year Award, LeadingAge New York, 2014
Humanitarian of the Year Award, Girl Scouts Heart of Hudson, 2018
Andrew’s daughters described their father as “a dedicated husband, fun-loving, trustworthy father and grandfather, faithful brother, and exceptional friend. Games, good food, stimulating conversation and social gatherings brought him joy. He loved the natural world, especially along the Hudson and in the Adirondacks.”
A memorial service “to celebrate Len’s life” is scheduled this Sunday, July 18, 2 p.m. at Memorial United Methodist Church, 250 Bryant Ave, White Plains. There will also be a link, at www.Memorial4all.org to an online broadcast of the service.