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I’ll sure miss your smile, Andrew

Living here for more than 35 years, and working as a sports writer and photographer at our daily and weekly newspapers for more than 25 years, I’ve had the great fortune to get to know more people than I could ever dream of counting.

I’ve made many close friends over those years, and I’ve also become casual friends with many, many more folks. Andrew St. Louis was one of them. I didn’t see him a lot, but it was always enjoyable running into him.

When I came to work on Tuesday, I was shocked and saddened to hear of Andrew’s passing. It was tough to hear the news that a medical emergency took his life on Sunday, while he was coaching the St. Lawrence Steel team in the Buffalo area.

It seemed like it was just a couple weeks ago that I crossed paths with Andrew in Saranac Lake. I’ll always remember him for his happy smile. As a casual friend, I obviously didn’t see Andrew on a regular basis, but whenever we did meet up, he was smiling, and we always struck up a brief conversation before heading on our way.

In my earlier years covering sports at the Adirondack Daily Enterprise and the Lake Placid News, one of my favorite teams to follow was the Blue Bombers boys high school hockey team. That’s where I first met Andrew. He was an awesome player on an awesome team that gave me my first trip ever to cover one of our Tri-Lakes teams at the state final four. It was 2001 and Lake Placid played (and unfortunately) lost to Salmon River. I felt bad for the kids, but it was great they made it and it the trip to Utica they provided me was memorable.

Although I’ve never lived in Lake Placid, I’ve certainly spent a lot of time there, and I’ve come to discover that Lake Placid is one great big hockey family. On Tuesday, I went to the Elite Hockey Prospects website and saw a list of hockey players from Lake Placid. The names stretched back to the 1950s to the present, and of course, Andrew St. Louis was on that list.

He was also a big part of Lake Placid’s golf community. In recent years, every time I’ve played golf at Craig Wood, the one guy I’d always wanted to see there was Andrew St. Louis. He was very proud of the work he did keeping the course in great condition, or if there were issues, he was proud to help work the grass back into shape. I’d always thank him for being there.

Over the years, I’ve sometimes had an easier time remembering athletes by their numbers than their names, so I’d call them “number so and so,” even years after they graduated. I never forgot #16, but I don’t remember calling him that. When I’d see him, I’d say “Andrew.”

I met him as a high school kid with a bright smile, and I’ve run into Andrew multiple times every year for the past 20 years. During that time, I saw him grow up into a really nice man, but for me, one thing never changed. Whether it was back in the early 2000s or a month ago, Andrew still had that same, friendly boyish smile. I was always happy to see him.

I’ll miss Andrew, and I’ll miss that smile. The first time I visit Craig Wood to play a round this year, when I drive past that equipment garage close to the first and 17th holes, I’ll be pretty darn sad for bit. It won’t be the same without Andrew there.

The best I can do, and perhaps the best all his friends and family can do, is always remember his smile and give thanks for the time we’ve been fortunate enough to spend with him. Even, in my case, if was just saying hello on the street or spending a few minutes visiting on the porch at the Craig Wood clubhouse.

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