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Nelson C. Andrews, civic leader and CRS founder, dies

July 2009

Nelson C. Andrews, widely regarded as one of Nashville’s greatest philanthropists, humanitarians and civic leaders, died June 13 of leukemia. He was 82.

Mr. Andrews, a 1949 Vanderbilt graduate, helped found Vanderbilt Children's Hospital nearly four decades ago and was the founder and first president of the Canby Robinson Society.

An active member of the Medical Center’s board in 1979, Mr. Andrews was asked by Vice Chancellor Vernon Wilson to help form the first Vanderbilt donor society. The two agreed about two things: a donor society was needed, but it wouldn’t be easy getting one started.

“At that time, there was a real gulf between the Vanderbilt community and the rest of the community,” Mr. Andrews recalled in a 2003 Vanderbilt Medicine article.

So a steering committee was formed to solicit members, mostly Vanderbilt and community physicians.

“We called it an ambassadorship, a friendship,” Mr. Andrews said.

Thanks in part to the foundation that Mr. Andrews helped build, the Canby Robinson Society now includes 2,500 members.

Mr. Andrews served on the Medical Center Board as well as on the Vanderbilt Board of Trust since 1979. He was elected trustee emeritus in 2003. In 2007, he was honored with the Joe Kraft Humanitarian Award, presented by the Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee for exceptional community service and philanthropy.

He also was the founding president and chairman of many boards and organizations in Nashville, including the Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt, Leadership Nashville, the Better Business Bureau of Nashville/Middle Tennessee, the Davidson County group of the Tennessee Health Care Network and the Girl Scouts Men’s Advisory Board, among many others.

“It is rare to find a person who exerts such a profound influence on his community, on its history and maybe, most importantly, on its culture,” said Jeff Balser, M.D., Ph.D., vice chancellor for Health Affairs. “There may be no one more responsible for the greatness of this city than Nelson Andrews and those of us at Vanderbilt who benefit from his contribution to our academic community will be forever grateful.”

Mr. Andrews is survived by his wife, Sue, whom he met at Vanderbilt, children Susan, Nelson Carter, Judith, Adam, and Frank, and 21 grandchildren.

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