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Andrews leaves lasting impression

It is often said that a reader lives a thousand lives before he dies but, according to those who knew him best, former district attorney John Andrews didn’t need a book to experience life to the fullest.

Andrews, 72, died at his residence on Wed., Nov. 19, 2014.

A graduate of Dothan High School, the University of Alabama and Cumberland School of Law, he became district attorney for the Second Judicial Court of Alabama from 2001 until 2012.

Throughout that time, Andrews has left a lasting impression on the City of Greenville, Butler County as a whole and neighboring the Lowndes and Crenshaw counties.

Few knew Andrews as well as Greenville attorney Brandon Sellers, who had frequent interactions with him as a colleague, but even more as a friend.

“I’ve known John for 30 years, as a kid and as an attorney,” Sellers said. “John had a motorcycle and he road in the 90s. He loved the river. He loved to fish. He’s had various river houses, he’s had lake houses and he’s had beach houses. He loved the water. He loved people. He loved to cook for people and entertain. You were always welcome at John’s house.”

Things weren’t much different in the courtroom, as Sellers remarked that Andrews’ larger-than-life persona carried over even in professional settings.

Often noted as the best-dressed man in the room at any given moment, Sellers added that his courthouse nickname, Loophole, was well earned—if there was one to find in a case, he would find it.

His work ethic, coupled with a no-nonsense attitude, made him an ideal mentor.

“He was going to tell you that you screwed up, but he’d help you fix it.  He’d tell you it’s going to be OK,” Sellers said.

“He also never drove his own vehicle. If you went to a conference with him, he’d make you drive his car.  At times, it was a Porsche, so it wasn’t so bad,” Sellers joked.

District Attorney Charlotte Tesmer met Andrews as a young prosecutor in the mid ‘80s, when she joined the DA’s office while he was in private practice with the defense attorney.

The two later switched roles but would remain on opposite sides of the courtroom for more than 20 years.

Tesmer and Andrews often met as rivals, but never as enemies.

“He’s been a friend to a lot of varying different kinds of people, and his wife even said ‘he just lived so many different lives,’” Tesmer said. “And that kind of sums him up to me—a defense attorney, a prosecutor, a wild and crazy younger guy, a great father and a great grandfather.”

Tesmer added that his presence was a commanding one, and it would certainly be missed.

“I’m not from Greenville, and he originally was not either, but from the time I’ve been here, John has always been there,” Tesmer added. “It’s going to be a difficult realization for a lot of people, in that he’s always been around and now he’s not.”

But even after his passing, Andrews has left a lasting legacy that is sure to endure, especially among several lawyers he has mentored.

“I preach that to the young lawyers that we take care of each other because that’s what he taught me,” Sellers said, noting that Andrews would often help him with cases at no cost.

“That’s how we do things, and that’s how we’re going to continue to do things.”

A memorial service will be held today at 11 a.m. at Saint Thomas Episcopal Church in Greenville.