Cover photo for Erica Dianne Andrew's Obituary
Erica Dianne Andrew Profile Photo

Erica Dianne Andrew

September 6, 1937 — April 11, 2023

London

Beloved mother, sister, grandmother, friend and teacher.

After a significant decline in health, Erica Andrew passed away peacefully at University Hospital, London, Ontario, while holding her daughter’s hand and hearing how much she was loved and cherished.

Predeceased family members include grandparents Leo and Maude Taylor, mother Eileen Retter (nee Taylor), father Eric Retter, uncle Leslie Taylor and aunt Margaret Taylor (nee Forbes).

Surviving family members include brother Craig Retter (partner Darlene Parker), nephew Blake Retter, son Rhett Daniel Andrew with grandchildren Jonathan Reid Andrew and William Daniel Andrew, and daughter, Lesley Dianne Andrew. Also mourning her loss is good friend, Lois Lake, and Erica’s standard poodle, Sparkle (now in Lois’ care).

While there will be no formal funeral service, arrangements will be made for a celebration of Erica’s life sometime in the near future. Most likely, this celebration will take place in London, Ontario. Should you wish to attend, please contact Lesley Andrew (lesley@dreaminprogress.com).  Erica’s ashes will be interred at Park Lawn Cemetery & Mausoleum, Toronto, Ontario, alongside her grandparents, parents, and uncle and aunt.

In lieu of flowers, please consider making a donation to the Canadian Wildlife Federation , as Erica was a life-long environmentalist and the CWF was an organization near and dear to her heart.
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Erica Dianne Andrew was a woman of great conviction and compassion. While her life was not always easy, it was a rich life.

Born and raised in Toronto, Ontario, Erica was first generation Canadian. Her parents and grandparents were from London, England, having immigrated to Canada shortly after World War 1 in the late 1910’s. As a child, Erica spent much time in her nana’s hat shop, where her mother also worked as a milliner. Her nana had a beautiful voice, and evenings were spent surrounded by music, with her mother playing piano and her nana singing. In a role-reversal of sorts, Erica’s nana was the bread-winner for the family, while her grandfather stayed home to raise the children and do the bookkeeping. Erica’s grandfather played an important role her life, as he coached her as a runner, and taught her how to read by the age of three or four. The first ‘family home’ was the apartment above the shop, where everyone lived together. For the first eleven years of her life, Erica did not have a bedroom, but rather slept on a daybed in the back room of the apartment attached to the kitchen. One of the happiest moments of her life was when her brother, Craig, was born. Although her father instilled in Erica a love of animals and literature, he was a serious alcoholic, which wreaked havoc on all their lives.

Having accelerated through elementary school by skipping at least one grade, Erica began her teaching career at the age of seventeen or eighteen in Etobicoke, Ontario, Canada. Her favourite grades to teach were grades five and six. During her ‘first’ career, Erica created and taught the gifted child program for the Etobicoke Board of Education. Not long ago, her very first class from this program arranged a reunion. Attending this reunion was one of the highlights of Erica’s life. As a young, single, professional woman in the 1950/60’s, Erica fought for women’s rights within the teaching profession, including the right for women to wear pants to work, and the right for women to continue teaching while pregnant. Throughout her life, Erica was an outspoken activist for many causes she felt worthwhile, including women’s rights and the environment.

After a decade long hiatus, Erica’s ‘second’ career began in 1979, when she was hired by the Halton Board of Education. Throughout the 1980’s, Erica taught at schools in Milton, Limehouse, Burlington, and Oakville. At this time, Erica also began taking courses toward her university degree, all the while working full-time and raising a family as a single mother. The 1990’s saw a shift in Erica’s career. She was a consultant in the area of gifted child education, the president of the Halton Women Teachers’ Association, and an elected trustee for the Halton Board of Education. Throughout her life, Erica was contacted by past students and colleagues, thanking her for the profound impact she had on their lives.

A life long environmentalist, Erica was well ahead of her time in stewarding the planet and caring for its flora and fauna. Erica taught children and adults alike about monarch caterpillars and butterflies, humpback whales, turtles, endangered species etc., and she was instrumental in developing a recycling program for the Halton Board of Education. Each summer, Erica would pack her car with camping gear and her standard poodle, and they would head to Brier Island, Nova Scotia. They had many adventures together, and made many lifelong friends.

When travels out East were no longer possible, Erica enjoyed spending time at the Long Point cottage she shared with her daughter, Lesley, where they would gather with friends, eat make-your-own-pizzas and “Lesley’s frittata”, play Skip-Bo and Rummoli, and watch old movies and the odd episode of ‘Murder, She Wrote’ and ‘Murdoch Mysteries’. During the summer months, Erica would carry a shovel in her car in order that she could rescue turtles from the Causeway and Hastings Drive. Erica often presented in front of Norfolk council on behalf of this most precious environment.

Always important to Erica was her family. Her encouragement, support and advocacy were tireless. Knowing her love was ever-present made life bearable during times of great difficulty.  As Erica was ten years older than her brother, she had a large part in helping to raise him as well. What’s bred in the bone couldn’t be more true; Craig, Rhett and Lesley all became teachers! Our lives were filled with family friends, animals of all shapes and sizes, a plethora of books, and theatre and music.

Even in her later years, Erica was very active, conducting and singing in ‘The Young at Heart Singers’ seniors choir, teaching and playing bridge, tutoring the ‘Orton-Gillingham’ approach to reading for dyslexic children, and presenting talks on gifted education and humpback whales. After moving to London, Erica became president of the ‘New Comers Club,’ and arranged many outings and events for women. A voracious reader from a very young age, Erica always had a book in her hands. During the warmer weather, she loved sitting on the front porch with her standard poodle and her good friend, Lois, enjoying conversation, take-out dinners, Dairy Queen Blizzards, and a glass or two of white wine (with lots and lots of ice cubes).

Erica’s creativity, intelligence and sense of humour always made life interesting. She was a woman of strong opinions and was never afraid to share them! Her fortitude and fiercely independent nature were commendable. Erica was respected and loved by so many, and we are better people for having been blessed by her presence.

Much thanks to the medical team at University Hospital (London, Ontario) for their patience and help with end of life care for Erica. Eternal gratitude to Lois Lake for her continuous help, friendship and understanding, and to the friends of Lesley for their unending kindness, support and love.

I love you, mum. Holding you forever in my heart.

Lesley

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