Jim Andress

Jim & Lyn Andress

Indoor Track Plebe Year, Fencing Club


Cullum No. 24193-1962 | March 11, 2008 | Died in Lake Forest, IL
Interred in Lake Forest Cemetery, Lake Forest, IL

We—family, friends, the Long Gray Line, the business world—suffered a grievous loss with the passing of James Gillis Andress, age 69, on 11 Mar 2008. Here was a man loved and respected by all who knew him, even casually, whose mainstream America roots provided little hint of what he was to become.

Born in Hamlin, TX, he grew up in Gardena, CA, and graduated from Gardena High School before attending nearby El Camino Junior College for a year and a half. He entered the Academy with the Class of 1962 as an appointee of the Honorable Cecil R. King, 17th District of California.

As a cadet, he recorded Air Force and Artillery as his preferences after graduation, but Air Force billets were parceled out in quasilottery fashion, and Jim missed out. So he became an enthusiastic member of the Queen of Battle, breezing through the Infantry Officer Basic, Airborne, and Ranger Schools before joining the 1st Battalion, 5th Infantry, Bobcats at Schofield Barracks, HI, and commanding C Company for all of 1966 in Viet Nam. His leadership, “personal valor, courage, and determination” earned him the Bronze Star Medal for Valor and the Combat Infantryman Badge.

In 1968, now with his wife and children, Jim left the Army to begin a career in business, earning a Master of Business Administration degree from the Wharton Business School, University of Pennsylvania. The next 30 years found him leading major business units of giant corporations and serving on perhaps a dozen boards of directors of other major corporations before retiring in 2000 to travel and enjoy the company of his wife and family.

Jim is survived by his wife Carolyn of Lake Forest, IL; daughter Carolyn of Melbourne, Australia, and her husband, Charles Hough, and their children, Charles, Eleanor, and Frances; son Andrew of Lake Forest and his wife Megan and their children, Isabelle and Charlotte; daughter Sarah of London, England, and her husband, Michael Alexander, and their son James; brother Steven Andress of Lexington, MA; and parents James and Ruth Andress of Abilene, TX.

This accounting of the bare facts of Jim’s life reveals little of the man. Let a friend tell it: “Such a one of a kind man taken from us by a one of a kind cancer. In every circle in which he traveled, I wager he was most loved. I know it to be true for Company B1, USCC. When Jim entered a room, conversations would stop, smiles would appear, furrowed brows would relax, morale would improve, and our cares, so important just moments earlier, would give way to wondering what Jim had for us this time. He was a man of letters, doing his best work as a cadet in English and Law, at an institution that tolerated but did not reward success in these areas. I cannot vouch for all his exploits but think them all possibly true. Did he run for high school student body president and deliver a campaign speech before an assembly that consisted entirely of shooting the school principal with a blank pistol? Maybe. Did a glob of oatmeal the size of a golf ball spill from the inside of his necktie when, as a plebe, he was commanded to “P.D., Mister Andress!” Yes. Did he ask a belly dancer at the Port Said Club to the Ring Hop? Yes. Was he a member of the elite Century Club, the only requirement for membership in which was walking 100 or more hours on the area? If not, how did he avoid it; he was not a slave to Regulations, USCC. Did he and his friend Chris Stanat defenestrate the contents of each other’s wall locker in full view of the Company Tactical Officer? Yes, and both paid dearly for their impulse. Did this funny, kind, generous man go on to head up such corporate units as Abbott Labs, Sterling Drug, Beecham Pharmaceuticals, Information Resources, and Warner Chilcott? Yes. And did he serve on the boards of AOL, Genetics Institute, Liposome, OptionCare, Allstate, DadeBehring, Sepracor, Xoma, and Warner Chilcott? Yes.” And did he break a tie vote by the board of America On Line by voting “no” to the idea of collaborating with Microsoft? Yes.

And from another friend: “I once flew to New York from Hawaii to spend a week with Jim. I got off the bus from Newark outside his office. He was waiting for me on the corner, and, as I walked across the street, he was in an altercation with two guys who had been verbally beating up on some teenage girl standing on the corner. They were threatening to beat him up if he didn’t shut up. I caught Jim’s eye, and we both starting laughing. I expected him to get into his ‘Ranger stance’ any second. Since the odds had evened and the two old guys were laughing, the other two walked away with a few comments about our genders or family histories.”

From a third: “[Jim] was an exceptionally intelligent and humorous individual. He was certainly unique and had a capability of separating that which is important from that which was really immaterial. I consider him to be a true realist.”

Perhaps most importantly, it can be said that this realist made everyone feel like you were his best friend. And this gives us a clue how he was able to pull off his greatest accomplishment: persuading a blind date from the Michigan football trip in 1961 to marry him. Jim would credit his beautiful and classy Carolyn (Lyn) for much of his success. We all heard him say so more than once. Now we are left to treasure his memory, assisted, we hope, by frequent encounters with Lyn and the children. May that memory be second only to his presence. Rest in peace, friend. Your life serves to make us proud of West Point.

—Family and friends in Company B1

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