Andy Mays grew up in Moretown, Vermont, and attended St. Monica's Catholic School in Barre, VT; Moretown Elementary School, and Harwood Union High School, graduating in 1982. One night after graduation he made a vow that whichever branch of the military was advertised on that evening's late-night TV, he would enlist. And the future of his life's course was set in place at that moment. He served in the U.S. Coast Guard from September 26, 1983, to March 20, 1991.
I knew Andy through his brother Darrell as he was several years older than me. It was in 2008, a couple of years after I purchased the Village Grocery, that I got to know Andy better. The economic collapse of 2008 threw the lobster trade in Maine into a panic, the bottom had dropped out and folks had a hard time making ends meet. Well, Darrell and I decided that we could drive up to Maine and buy a bunch of lobsters to help Andy out. That was our first VG Lobster Day.
It was such a great trip catching up with an old high school friend that we did it again in 2009, turning a one-time trip into a yearly event. In 2011, Tropical Storm Irene happened and that year we took the sales from the lobsters and helped to fundraise for our neighbors. Andy, in turn, drove down from Maine with a truckload of lobsters to help lift the spirits of his hometown in Moretown as they dug out from the disaster.
A few years after that we did a trip for Andy’s lobsters for a fundraiser for our newly formed sled hockey team called the Central Vermont Pioneers. It wasn’t long after that that Andy was diagnosed with cancer. It was a pretty aggressive kind, but Andy was even more aggressive in his treatment. He amazed his doctors in his ability to withstand the pain that they knew he was going through. Each year I was wondering if this was going to be Andy’s last year for getting us lobsters, but again Andy was there with a smile saying, “Heck, yes, we can do that.”
Finally in 2017, Andy got through one last lobster trip with us and passed away in December of that year. He was just 53 years old. The next year in 2018, we again went on our trip to Maine, but that year our lobster sales went to help support Andy’s wife and his three kids.
It has been two years since our last lobster trip, because of the economics of the lobster trade and COVID, but this year we are once again going to establish the Friday always before Columbus /Indigenous Peoples Day as the “Andy Mays Day” -- a day in which we hope that people will do a simple act of kindness for others, in the spirit of Andy.
Andy's circle of friends is too large to list, if you knew him, you were his friend. If you weren't his friend, it was only because he hadn't met you yet.
Andy was known for the strength of his opinions and his humor. The latter trait was front and center in 2013, when the Colbert Report aired a sketch about two buckets of scallop gonads that had gone missing on Mount Desert Island. Mays, who was taking part in a scallop research project for the University of Maine, had placed the buckets in the wrong car outside a local restaurant. The car’s driver drove away, not knowing what lay in the back seat. After Mays and the researcher in whose car the scallop gonads were supposed to be placed realized what had happened, Mount Desert Island and Ellsworth police were alerted. The missing buckets were quickly found. Local newspaper articles about the mix-up got picked up by national news wires, which then drew the attention of the satirical Colbert Report. Mays, who did not have a television, reportedly enjoyed his family’s and friends’ reactions to his self-deprecating comments on the segment.
We hope that you might consider joining us in our most important local holiday this year, as we remember a most unique friend and aspire to add a smile to some stranger’s day -- in memory of Andy.
Kingsbury lives in Waitsfield.