Remembering John Allison (Jack) MacAndrew 1933-2014

Letters to the Editor (The Guardian)
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Jack MacAndrew prepares to deliver a lecture at Confederation Centre of the Arts in January 2014. 

Following are excerpts from the eulogy for Jack MacAndrew delivered Wednesday by former P.E.I. Premier Alex Campbell:

“We are gathered here today as family and friends to remember a man who could only be described as unique, a gentleman and a gentle man, who touched our lives in so many ways.

I am deeply honoured to have been asked by Barbara to deliver the eulogy for our dear colleague, who was both friend and mentor.

He could be gruff, argumentative, irascible and demanding, and yes, we can agree with him that his appearance would on occasion resemble “an unmade bed or a scrufulous black bear” but you always knew that he was an honourable man — kind to his very core and loyal beyond words. He stood by his friends through thick and thin.

Jack took a very young and inexperienced staff at Confederation Center in the 1960s and 70s and by dint of his personality, molded them into one of the best theatre crews in Canada at that time. He encouraged them, and trusted them, and they delivered; and the reason they delivered was that they weren’t about to disappoint MacAndrew. He expected the best of people and as often as not, he got the best.

He sought out young talent in P.E.I. and beyond and encouraged and nurtured it. The energetic entertainment scene on P.E.I. today in no small way owes its very existence to Jack MacAndrew.

He scattered the seeds that were to grow and flourish into today’s vibrant cultural life in this province.

Some of us here today will remember Jack as the high school athlete, others as the young air force press officer, others doing public relations for CBC, still others as a budding politician. Jack was a wonderful storyteller. He had a fantastic memory and would recall the smallest but significant details of his life with great clarity and then magically weave them into his story. Some of you might even remember Santa Claus. He could hardly wait for Christmas to get into his chair at the mall and get the kids onto his knee.

If broadcasting, public relations and theater were Jack’s profession, his passion was politics. Never was there a political topic on which he didn’t have an opinion. He’d argue anybody into a corner and on occasion back himself into one over anything from gun control to budgets, to aboriginal rights to the environment. He once took a punch in the head for an article attributed to him by a rather irate politician.

It was a happy and fortuitous coincidence for me that when my run at political life began in 1965, Jack’s career in public relations and marketing at Confederation Center was also taking off. He became a valuable mentor and friend over the passing years. I am sure that one of his most satisfying achievements in the political arena was accomplished when serving as a board member of the P.E.I. 1973 Centennial Commission. Jack led a conspiracy to hijack the nearly $1.5 million federal grant and hand it over to Catherine Hennessey at the Heritage Foundation. Abetted by Fred Hyndman, the pair convinced their fellow commissioners to give up the dough. My job was to persuade the MLAs that this was a good thing to do. The conspiracy succeeded. Catherine was pleased.

On another occasion, following the Public Gatherings Act fiasco, Jack quietly slipped a plank called The Human Rights Act into our 1974 campaign platform, seeking and receiving official approval after the fact.  Jack also enjoyed organizing the annual tuna fishing tournament for sports writers from Canada and the U.S. which set the stage for international sport tuna fishing on P.E.I.

Together, Jack and Barbara added luster to the Island’s reputation for hospitality and were gracious hosts to many visitors whom they accommodated at their Blueheron Hideaway at Blooming Point on the North Shore. Such was the MacAndrew hospitality.

Jack MacAndrew has gone home. Although his song has ended, may its melody linger on.

Alex B. Campbell,

St. Peter’s Cathedral,

Charlottetown,

May 28, 2014.

Organizations: Confederation Center, CBC, Centennial Commission Heritage Foundation

Geographic location: Canada, P.E.I., U.S. North Shore Peter Charlottetown

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