Generous donor learned life values in Walworth County
Paul Andrews learned the value of work and working together as a hired boy on Walworth County farms.
He also honed his ability to stay focused in the heat of summer while detasseling corn.
When a neighbor became ill, he understood the importance of being there to help with the milking.
The boy who grew up among farm fields in the town of Sugar Creek became the man with a generous heart.
Andrews and his wife, Patricia, recently pledged a $5 million estate gift to Milwaukee's Marquette School of Dentistry, the largest gift in the school's history.
The gift will focus on making scholarships available to veterans and their families.
“Being able to pay it forward is such a good feeling,” said Andrews, a Navy veteran.
He wants to give others the same chance he had as a young man.
Andrews focused on vets for good reason.
His godson, Jefferson, helped inspire him to pay it forward.
Jefferson wanted to attend dental school but was killed fighting in Afghanistan.
Andrews, a Vietnam War vet, also remembers eight members of his high school class who died in Vietnam.
As a youth, Andrews considered college or the military. But because he had no money, college was not an option.
“I had a cousin who was in the Navy and traveling all over the world,” Andrews recalled. “I wanted to do that, too.”
He entered the Navy two weeks after graduation from Elkhorn High School in 1962 and saw places “I never had the opportunity to imagine,” Andrews said.
The Navy trained him as a dental technician, who helped make dentures, partial dentures and bridge work.
Before Andrews left the Navy in 1968, he knew he wanted to be a dentist.
He attended UW-Whitewater, then a state university, for two years. Later, he attended Marquette School of Dentistry for four years.
“When you are older and go to school like that, you choose your goal and move forward,” he said.
In his sophomore year, Andrews was selected as a Navy scholarship recipient and was one of only 32 in the country. He had a scholarship for his remaining three years of dental school.
After graduation, he worked as a dentist in the Navy for four years.
Today, Andrews lives in a suburb of Orlando, Florida, but he is never far from his Wisconsin roots.
“I carry a Green Bay Packer wallet,” he said. “I wear clothes that deal with Wisconsin. I'm still a cheesehead through and through… 'Yeah, sure.' 'You betcha.'”
He said people in Wisconsin “accept you for who you are right away. There's a level playing field.”
He encourages others to help people who are trying to help themselves.
Andrews continues to work at age 73.
“Growing up in Wisconsin, I learned the cows have to be milked in the morning and at night every day, including Christmas and your birthday,” he said. “I never knew anyone who retired.”
Anna Marie Lux is a Sunday columnist for The Gazette. Call her with ideas or comments at 608-755-8264, or email email@example.com.