Cindy and I want to thank you for coming to celebrate Andrew. We especially thank all of you who have sustained us in the last days. Our Andrew possessed an extraordinary combination of virtues.
When Cindy and I touch Andrew, we feel his kindness, creativity, determination and of course that wonderful sense of humor, but most of all-his love.
By now you know there were some things Andrew just didn’t like-getting out of bed before eleven, latin, three game Mets winning streaks, running-and worst of all the dreaded vegetables. Seeing a plump juicy cheeseburger topped by lettuce and tomatoes caused that famous head to drop. And the fastest you would ever see Andrew move was a dive for napkins to keep pickle juice from trickling into his cheesedog. When I gave a fatherly chat about his cholesterol levels and diet, in his elfin fashion he replied ” I guess I need more ketchup on my fries.”
But Andrew was a man of his loves-anyone who saw Andrew at Hotchkiss or Yale with face painted leading cheers for his teams and friends understood Andrew. He loved his schools and he loved his fraternity. For all those affected by this great tragedy know that our hearts and prayers are with you.
He loved his golf (particularly his family golf and most of all knocking off his Dad) the big screen TV, George Foreman, New York Jets, and of course his beloved New York Yankees. But Andrew’s true passion was his friends and family.
To see Andrew argue with Chris and the buddies over a Dwyer/Brooks house contest (and as you know with that mind he was seldom out-argued and on that rare occasion that he sensed he was losing momentum, the arms went up and he just declared victory) that was seeing him in his element.
Watching Andrew wrestle Hylando on the water tube reminded us that this selfless soul also possessed extraordinary toughness and competitiveness. Wrestling with his friends was Andrew in his element.
Playing home run derby on the beach with Jake was Andrew in his element, and dressed to the nines and dancing with his sisters, that was Andrew in nirvana. To see Andrew surrounded by his cousins, aunts, uncles, and grandparents from whom he took so much strength was to see Andrew connected.
To see Andrew seated between his adoring sisters regaling his parents with his latest adventures and capers or outwitting us all with his amazing intellect was to see Andrew most content. In this world of so many troubles we ask that when you remember Andrew you think of his kindness, his determination to help others, his joy for life and above all his love, and we ask that we all try just a little bit harder to spread his spirit.
Father and Son
The Father and Son Golf Tournament is played annually at the Garden City Golf Club on the second Monday in June. The tournament is rife with tradition, and I could not wait to team with Andrew-from an early age it was clear he was going to be a good golfer. I had played in the tournament with my father until his death in 1987 after that I waited for the time that my son would be old enough to want or dare take on the alternate shot format with his Dad. So in the early morning in June in 1991 some ten days before Andrew’s ninth birthday we left to drive down to the Garden City Golf Club for our tee off time.
Later we developed the tradition of staying at The Garden City Hotel the night before the tournament and treating ourselves like royalty. Andrew enjoyed getting to the room about six o’clock turning on the TV and settling in. There was something about the thick terrycloth wrapper that made him feel suave, and we would celebrate the occasion with a little room service (surprise, surprise cheeseburgers and fries with a coke). The Garden City Hotel was rebuilt around 1980 and the only Four Star Hotel on Long Island-I would call it luxurious, Andrew fancy, regardless it was first class. But its real distinction was that it was right across the street from the Golf Club which was of paramount importance if as was usual for us, we had an early morning tee time.
Playing early in the morning seems odd given Andrew’s teenage sleep habits. A night owl he almost never went to bed before two a.m. or awoke before ten. But Dwyers’ are not a patient people by nature and Andrew was no exception-the Father and Son Golf tournament took four and one half hours under the best of circumstances and almost six hours was the norm. He hated to wait to hit his shots. The only chance to play quickly and avoid incessant waits on the tee was to play early, so we did.
In the middle of June the NBA finals are the main sports attraction so father and son each happily stretched out on king sized beds, munched on ground sirloin, and talked sports. Andrew loved to talk sports or more particularly statistics, preferably about the Yankees or Jets, but really about almost any major sport. In his later years he lived on espn.com (although the Orbitz popup was a constant frustration), but even at a young age he studied the sports section. In his formative years he did not argue with me too much, unsure of himself and eager to please, he let my factual errors slide by, but he knew they were wrong. After going away to school and particularly during his Upper Mid year, he found his voice and began with quick jibes and commentary for which he is so remembered. It was a little smile and a knowing look-in my case frequently accompanied by something like “getting a little confused old man.” Andrew loved to compete and hated to lose, but I am getting ahead of myself, back to 1991.
We arrived promptly at 7:25 for our 7:30 tee off time to find we were paired with the Baitys, a father and son team from Winged Foot with a combined handicap of six, and the Galstons (the son being about my age and the father of course in his seventies) with a combined handicap about twenty-five strokes. We were given twenty-six strokes. The first hole is a short par four but has an intimidating carry of about 130 yards of high gorse. In fact, the distinguishing characteristic of Garden City, a splendid old course rated in the Country’s top fifty, is the high gorse and difficult carries.
Andrew was poised. By eight years old he had developed a wonderful easy swing; he was still little, not yet 4’6” and less than 80 pounds dripping wet but already was fully capable of shooting under 50 for nine holes from the women’s tees. Unfortunately we were not playing from the women’s tees, and the format was alternate shot and not best ball. Andrew would drive the odd holes and I the even, meaning it would be his drive of the crowded, spectator circled first tee. At 7:30 he stepped up and ripped it. The crowd smiled.
Just as it looked like the ball would bounce in the dead center of the fairway, it lost steam and tumbled down short of the short grass and busied in the dreaded gorse. The younger Baity ripped a three wood 240 yards to the center of the fairway, and off we went to find our ball. Although the lie was treacherous, there was only 145 yards to the green and I envisioned a well struck 7 iron putting us on the green. I came up 144 yards short barely moving the ball. Andrew couldn’t get out of the rough, and I finally punched out to the fairway to lie 4. After he just missed the green with his shot, I popped it on and we four putted for our 10. The Baitys’ made three.
The second hole was no better. A short par three with a huge cavernous bunker in the front and a green sloping toward a deep bunker in the rear, the hole deems an accurate 8 iron off the tee. I went left into the deepest bunker on the course leaving Andrew no shot whatsoever, by the end of the carnage we were down in 8. The Baity’s calmly birdied their second in a row while the Galstons made 5.
As we approached the third tee, it was clear we were in for a very long day. The carry for the third hole was 170 yards, far past Andrew’s distance and my swing was already collapsing under the pressure of trying to look good to my son. We made 10 at the third, and the Baity’s 3. We were 28 at the end of three while the Baity’s were 8! (The Baity’s would shoot 75 and win low gross). As we walked to the fourth, Andrew turned to me and without the slightest smile told me, “Dad you have to play better if we are going to win this thing.”
I almost laughed and then looked at Andrew’s resolute jaw, and I never looked at Andrew the same way thereafter. Yes, this was a gentle good looking toe head with an open friendly demeanor, a boy who seldom was critical of others and who prized loyalty, but he loved to compete and never wanted to lose. Andrew had amazing grit and determination; he just didn’t flaunt it.
The 18th hole at Garden City, a par three over a small pond, finishing right in front of the Club House and adjacent to the starting hole-the green is always jammed with our spectators as it also serves as the practice green. Somewhere during our round our goal had shifted from winning, to breaking 100, to making one par. The 18th was our opportunity. If all went right, I would hit a 6 iron on the green and Andrew would putt it close enough for me to make the par. Unfortunately I hit a sharp hook into a greenside bunker that was six feet deep. So much for our par! As Andrew descended down the steps of the bunker and disappeared from view, the spectators started to buzz captivated by the little boy with a baseball cap and the daunting shot. I could not see the swing, but there was a dull thud and then the ball softly fluttered straight up out of the trap and settled less than 18 inches from the cup. A huge roar erupted from the crowd and he emerged with that ear-to-ear grin and the satisfaction of a job very well done.
Andrew would develop into a wonderful bunker player but that was perhaps his finest shot. It did not matter that I would yip on the putt, or that we finished 114 out of 125 teams (yes, we did beat some teams), our day ended with his special shot that would bring us both back.
We did not go home empty handed as Andrew won the award for the youngest player. We returned often to play in the Tournament and never played well-this was surprising because Andrew and I would develop into a very strong team consistently winning the Parent/Child at Bedford as well as the Hay Harbor tournament and Weickoff Cup in Fishers Island. It was always great fun and we knew that when the time was right our day would come.