Memories of Andy Pitts
Thank you for visiting this memorial to
Andy Pitts. I would appreciate it if you would Add your memories of Andy to this
collection of thoughts recorded by others who knew and loved him.
Andy Pitts Memorial Service, October 18, 2001
The minister was The Reverend Edwin Needham, who was a family friend. Mr.
Needham lives in Pfafftown, NC. Mr. Needham opened the service with several
scripture readings, and his remarks (excerpted) about Andy follows:
I met Andy because of the CB radio. I met Catherine that way, and through her
I met her family.
Andy was a genius. All of you know that. There is nothing that I can say that
will add to that fact for you know it. When he was about twelve years old he
built a little modulator for my radio. I still have it. It was suppose to
improve the speech.
If you read the obit in the paper you read how he had established the Red
Barn Internet Services, the first Internet service in Winston-Salem. You read
how he built the first repeater, it was a 2-meter repeater, for the Forsyth
County Ham Club. It carried his Call letters, WA4GIC. Mr. Reece, the owner of
this building, said to me, today, "I think that I knew him. I think that
he helped me with my computer here."
Andy was that kind of person. If you needed him to do something he would do
it. I think that what has happened to him in later life is remarkable. He
showed his strength in a way that I think many of us would not be able to do.
I suppose he was as afraid of doctors and medicine as I am, yet he persevered
as he lived. For 23 years on dialysis. I think about that -- think about the
terror that was part of his life; in respect to that I honor him all the more
as we come here. He was a person who apparently enjoyed life, and he wanted
to live. He enjoyed people who were around him. He was a peace maker. He
didn't like disputes among people. He was brilliant. I am going to leave it
up to some of you to enlarge on what I have said.
October 18, 2001 Andy's Memorial service
The following is the eulogy, as presented by Jon Vickers. Jon spoke from the
heart. I had requested that the ceremony, or memorial service, be recorded
for the benefit of two of Andy's cousins, Tracy Perez in Austin Texas, and
Charisse Matisz-Cordero, Andy's Uncle Emerson's daughter who lives in
California. It has taken me 5 months to face watching that recording so that
I could record Jon's words, which follows:
I had the pleasure of knowing Andy most of his life. I was introduced to him
when he was a squeeky voiced kid; full of inquiries, wanting to know about
everything--- and I was a TEENAGER !!! *I* KNEW some stuff !!! Wow !!. Every
time you would turn around the phone would ring. He would call me, or call
Jeff Miller, wanting to know how to do something or other.
It was a very short time before I was an older teenager and he was a middle
teen-ager. The next thing you knew the calls went the other way-- WE were
asking him about what happens if you do this? How do you do that?
Andy was an intellect. He was a mind. He was a curiosity. He was a body of
knowledge. He could retain things that would just blow your mind. He was
active in Amateur radio. He was responsible for a tremendous contribution to
the Amateur Radio community in this area. His desires, his influence, his
vision for what amateur radio could do and could be guided an awful lot of
people and provided an awful lot of service.
He was never very shy about letting you know he had a better idea. I
think that is very much a credit to him. Twenty-three years of dialysis---
amazing thing. Probably could not have happened but that Andy recognized
flaws and short falls and problems in the dialysis process. Andy stepped forward
and said "this is not the right way to do this. You are measuring things
this way and that is not an accurate measure. You are metering things this
way and that is not the way to feed back to the system. You're introducing
dialysis fluid at the temperature and that's causing a problem." He did
a lot to improve the processes within the dialysis clinic. Was there
controversy? Umm--hummm. And when they dropped back and looked back at the
total picture he was right. They just had to break down and admit it. And his
longevity, I thin, in a great part, was a product of his own
He was the only man I know, who was not an on-going mathematician, but who
could, until a couple of weeks ago, I can say with confidence, work out
square roots long-hand. Can any body else here do that? He knew the periodic
table inside out and backwards, was not a chemist, but he understood and
embraced knowledge. It was a great thing to see.
We all know people that we love. We all know people we like. And we know many
people we respect. But generally when we refer to somebody or we talk about
somebody we talk about how we like them, and we talk about loving them.
Rarely do we have the opportunity to start our description about how much we
respect them. And I think that as it relates to Andy, we must all recognize
that respect was the starting point in how we would refer to him. What a
tribute. What a guy.
As an intellect, as a man of ideas, of visions, curiosity and great care,
Andy was a giant. His physical presence was never his strength. He was not a
big guy, he was not an imposing guy, He did not intimidate anyone by his
physical presence, but by his intellect.
Andy, a man of ideas. Ideas don't die.
From: John Barlow
Andy Pitts shared wisdom with me, in an interesting way.
He shared as a lesson. He would tell me things, but intentionally leave parts
out. The 'left out' parts were a route of discovery, but the keys to the
lesson guided me well. I'll always cherish him for that. He pointed the way
to discovery, but did not teach. It might seem that he ushered me off into a
quiet corner, but in his mastery, he simply pointed me in the correct
direction that I could learn what I wanted. This is a dance few can do so
well, and Andy could dance the best of any. I do miss him. He was my Sensei,
as I often was his. As I walk the keys, I occasionally ask him what to do.
Whether I feel he answers or not, I feel consoled by his
reference, and feel his approval. He was a god among mortal men, and I
continue to feel his knowledge. By whatever means you believe, may he ever
rest within passion of discovery that defined him, and never be without the
wondrous curiosity that drove him.
He continues to be one of my few life heroes.
The average person accomplishes little in this life, despite an abundance
of resources from which to draw. But every now and then, somebody manages to
overcome obstacles that would paralyze the average person, and succeed
anyway. Under the best of circumstances, this is surprising. When that
person's starting point is a disabled body and limited financial resources,
such success is utterly amazing. Andy Pitts is the only person I have ever
known to overcome such obstacles in order to actualize his dreams.
I suppose it should be noted that the real measure of a man should not only
account for WHAT he has accomplished, but also what he has OVERCOME in order
to accomplish it. By either measure, Andy Pitts stands head and shoulders
above anyone else I know.
It is with purpose that I use the present tense with regards to Andy, not the
past tense. For whether we choose to believe that the spirit lives on after
the body ceases to function or not (and I do believe that) it would still be
entirely true that the spirit of Andy Pitts lives in the lives and minds of
all who ever knew him.
It seems ironic to regard the passing of Andy's body with sadness, for it was
his *only* weakness! I tend rather to rejoice in the belief that he is
finally free of the only thing that ever inhibited his spirit, and I feel
sure that his current mode of learning is much better suited to the sort of
yearning he had for knowledge all the days of he spent on this planet.
Yes, we will miss him. But let us not forget to be glad for him too. Glad for
what he accomplished, glad for the ways in which he influenced us, glad for
all that he did and was.
Pat Marr <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Winston-Salem, NC USA - Monday, November 05, 2001 at 01:42:18 (EST)
From: Ronnie Abernathy
Date: Thu, 18 Oct 2001 00:35:11 -0400
To: "Catherine W. Pitts"
Where to begin... I loved Andy too and will miss him dearly. He was my
friend. Andy taught me much about computers, but more about life. Andy was
one of the most successful people I know, in spite of the adversities he
faced. He taught me that success was the learning and the journey, not the
finish line. Andy was compassionate.
In 1981 I came to Winston-Salem to begin a new chapter in my life. One of the
most significant pages was learning about computers. Around 1983, I had a
CP/M machine (Zorba with a 5.25 floppy drive and a 1200 bps external modem).
All the programs were loaded from a floppy disk into the computers memory. A
separate storage floppy disk had to be inserted to save files. I thought the
CP/M computer was the greatest invention imaginable. I wanted to learn how to
do everything ... including using the modem. But who was using modems in 1983?
My friends told me about Bulletin Boards. The technology was remarkable. The
ability to use a dial-up modem over a telephone line had already increased
from 300 bps to 1200 bps. We had not even seen the 8086 PC or 8088 AT
machines. The hard disk was not yet available for public consumption. I was
fascinated that computer commands could be translated into analog tones and
transmitted by modem over the telephone to an awaiting modem and then back to
a computer signal for action.
I dialed up Comics Online, later renamed Red Barn BBS. The System Operator,
Andy Pitts, had a great system. Andy had established message groups where the
authentic authors of national syndicated comic strips were calling long
distance to participate in discussion groups. Andy was also pulling in USENET
message groups. USENET offered the opportunity to connect to others around
the globe to exchange messages relating to special interests. A great
resource was the availability of shareware programs which could be downloaded
from the BBS for use on any CP/M personal computers. The applications, games
and programs available over the BBS system were amazing. Andy and I became
very good friends. We had many conversations about political and social
issues surrounding the 1960s and 1970s. I learned many lesson about my
perceptions and misconceptions from Andy Pitts. Andy had a great sense of
humor. Computers quickly became secondary to our friendship and
conversations. Andy was remarkable. He was using UNIX kernels in a
multitasking environments long before most people were using CP/M machines.
Andy told me "One day, the Internet will be graphically
interfaced". Wow, I said then. I am still saying, wow!
When it came to computers, Andy was always right. Andy inspired me to start
by own BBS in Winston-Salem. I enjoyed running Ronnie's BBS for several
years, sharing USENET files from Andy's system. Andy was gracious and
generous in allowing others to access his system. My life was changed because
of Andy's influence. Andy brought the Internet to Winston-Salem. Andy Pitts
was ahead of everyone in technology and insight. Andy Pitts was indeed
remarkable. -- Andy, we will miss you. I will always remember your kindness
and the life lessons you taught me. Thank you, my friend. God Bless you.
In the late 1980's and early 1990's I was heavily into "bbs"ing.
Now that the internet is so commonplace, lots of people don't know, or have
forgotten that we once used our crummy 2400 "baud" modems to
connect to other computers and download email and games and other stuff. I
moved to Winston-Salem in 1991, and began getting involved in the local bbs
scene. I remember that it was during this time frame that I met Andy
(online). The Red Barn Data Center was then a bbs (bulletin board
At the time I had access to RBDC, in the beginning, it was amazing because
Andy offered his registered users internet email addresses. Mine was
email@example.com, or something like that. It was really great! I had many
online chats with Andy, and many email conversations. Oh how I wish now that
I had saved all of those early emails.
Time passed, and Andy added USENET to RBDC. This was really amazing, to me,
and opened up so many doors in terms of information. At this time it was
still totally free. Of course we had the option of donating information, and
some of us did. I know I was one of the early people to donate. It is just
hard to describe how much of a great thing it was to have Usenet access. Andy
was using a satellite receiver, I believe at that time to get the Usenet
Time passed. I had many email and online conversations with Andy about the
direction he wanted to take RBDC. He wanted to go full blown Internet.
Remember, this was even before the world wide web, and Andy was talking about
full blown internet, which at that time meant "archie"
"gopher" "ftp" "irc" and other things, but
"www" had not yet entered the vernacular. Of course Andy did go on
to add full internet feeds to RBDC, and began taking subscribers.
There were very few of us in the beginning, and as www came into play, we
initially used a text based version of a www browser.
Time passed and Andy was always making the system better and better. Nobody
could touch rbdc in terms of what Andy offered. We had full shell access, we
could create our own directories, compile programs which ran directly on his
I had known Andy online for years before I discovered that he had some
serious health issues. I asked him one night why he typed so slowly. I was a
dumb crass kid with no tact, and he told me he was not in good health. I felt
2 inches tall after that. Andy may have been a slow typist, but when he
typed, people listened. You could take what he said to the bank. Andy has a
very sharp mind, none sharper. He is also a good person, as I'm sure anyone
reading these messages fully knows.
I truly will never forget Andy as long as I live. I was talking to my friend
about shell access, because linux is getting so popular now. I said I know
this dude in North Carolina who has what I am talking about. He said nobody
offers that kind of system anymore. I said Andy Pitts does. So we pointed our
browser to RBDC.com and I saw that Andy had left this world.
I cried and my friend thought something was wrong with me. I wanted to record
what I remembered here.
I will never forget Andy. He was just that kind of person .
Former rbdc users from the early days might remember me as
Signed Todd Gibson
formerly firstname.lastname@example.org cheers... todd gibson
<email@example.com> Marietta, Ga USA -
Tuesday, May 28, 2002 at 22:35:42
(The following was in the Forsyth Amateur Radio Club, Inc.
November, 2001 Newsletter)
I am very sad to learn that Andy Pitts, WA4GIC, passed away Monday night,
October 15. With respect for his many accomplishments for the 146.64 repeater
Andy was made a life member of FARC when FCARES merged into FARC about 20
years ago. Andy was the builder of the first microprocessor controller for
the 146.64 repeater, which was nicknamed "Adam" by Andy after a
science fiction character. Clones of Adam were used on the Piedmont Coastal
Repeater Network (PCRN) as well as '.64 and those of us who go back a few
years still remember Adam's computerized voice singing out the time and ID.
Andy was also the owner of Red Barn Data Center, a popular local dial-up
internet provider which was highly regarded for service and integrity, even
winning national recognition in those respects. Being one who knew Andy in
the early years, I understand the significance of the name "Red
Barn". It was the outside storage building at his parent's house which
was occupied and filled to overflowing by the many gizmos of Andy's
wide-ranging interests. I once helped move a line printer that seemed to
weigh a ton into the "Red Barn". Unfortunately technology is
overtaking the smaller dial-up internet providers and Red Barn Data Center is
Andy suffered total kidney failure in his early 20's, around 1978. In those
days the life expectancy of a person on dialysis was around 5 years. Andy
endured much with his 3 times-a-week schedule of dialysis but managed to
continue his life and be productive, especially with the help and loving care
of his parents Catherine and Tom Pitts.
At the Winston hamfest back when we were in the Educational Building, Andy
and his mom had brought along a number of Titanic-sized computer items to
sell. I can’t remember exactly what one item was, but I think it was a RL-02
disk drive. I might be wrong about the actual item, but the size, original
cost and current utility fits the story. If you are not familiar with an
RL-02 disk drive, it used a removable platter for storage about the size of a
GIANT pizza and several inches thick. And it held 5 entire megabytes of data
per platter. People actually said “we’ll never use all that space”. The RL-02
is from back in the days when floppies were 8 inches across and held 180 K.
Anyway Andy wandered away for a while to look at some other goodies and while
he was gone someone stopped to admire the RL-02. Catherine tried to sell it
to him. No luck. I guess he didn’t own a boat. Then she quickly made sure
that Andy wasn’t nearby and said “Please take it. It’s free if you take it
right now.” The man greedily made off with his prize and when Andy came back
Catherine gave Andy $20. Andy said: “Is that all it brought? It should have
sold for at least $40.” I don’t think that anyone ever told Andy that
Catherine paid $20 to have it carted away.
Almost everyone who met Andy has a collection of similar stories. Catherine
would love to hear any stories you have of Andy and you can email her at
firstname.lastname@example.org As Andy’s interests took him more and more into the computer
world many of us hams saw Andy less and less frequently, but that doesn’t
mean that we forgot him. Forsyth County and FARC were enriched by his
presence and he will be missed.
Don Edwards <email@example.com>
Winston-Salem, NC USA - Friday, November 09, 2001 at 12:30:18 (EST)
October 17 -- 18, 2001
Dear Mrs. Pitts:
I was very sorry to read about Andy's death today in the paper. I extend to
you my deepest heartfelt condolences. I am a firm believer in God, and I pray
that He will help you through this time of great sorrow.
I don't know if you remember me or not, but I was out at Computer and
Software Outlet one Saturday, and you and Ken Bailey were there promoting Red
Barn Dta Center, with some pamphlets and stuff.
Although I never met Andy in person, I knew him in three ways. First, we were
both amateur radio operators; second, I was also employed as an engineer at
WXII - TV, although it was about 3 years after his disability began; third,
my father was on dialysis the last 1 1/4 years of his life. Not many people
can live for 23 years on kidney dialysis! I really know the drill on that. No
more than 1 quart of fluid per day, no dark soft drinks because of the
phosphorous, and be at dialysis 3 days a week, come hell or high water!
I did a lot of listening on the 2-meter band in late 1980 and got my license
in early 1981. I had heard Andy on the 04/64 machine a lot, and at first I
thought he was some kind of professor from M. I. T., or somewhere, from the
way he talked! I don't believe I have ever heard anyone else on ham radio
that was so distinct and deliberate as Andy was in his speaking. I had no
idea that he had any kind of physical problem, since I had heard him talked
about on the radio as the head man of the 04/64 machine. I heard many others,
like Wilson Lamb, Willard Conrad, Jon Vickers, John Waser, Tom Pugh and Chuck
Brydges talk about Andy a lot.
I didn't know he had a problem until one night about 11:30 I heard him come
on the air, and broke in to the conversation, and he was very excited. He
said something like "hey, you guys! I have just walked three steps
!!" I believe this was in late 1980 or early 1981. I remember when I got
my 1st class FCC license later, I told the guys on the 04/64 machine. Andy
congratulated me and said, "yeah, now you can go tear into a transmitter
somewhere." Andy had his 1st class too, and I'm sure you remember that
it ain't easy to get one of those! (Well, it wasn't for ME.) I remember Andy
telling a few tales about working at WXII and some radio stations as an
engineer, and about working with Danny Hampton (K4ITL) on the repeater
control system. (He, Danny Hampton, worked on stuff and climbed radio towers,
I began working at WXII as an engineer myself in late '81. The very first guy
that I got to know there, other than Henry Hunt, the director of engineering,
was a guy named John Cave. I asked him if he ever knew Andy, and he told me
some really tall stories about him!
John said that one time, T5, the machine that played all the commercials at
WXII, went out, due to a shorted power transistor, during the 6 PM news. John
said Andy was able to find the defective part, replace it, and have it up and
running again before the next commercial break. (I believe you and I were
discussing this at the grave side service.) I have had a few
knock-down-drag-outs with that same machine myself. I was told that Andy
started calling that machine "FRED", which stood for "Frankly
Ridiculous Electronic Device" (I'm not sure the actual word was
'frankly', it may have been something worse. That thing could have made MOSES
John also related that Andy once rigged up a bunch of flashbulbs to go off
when he turned the light on in a closet in the control room, but the funniest
story was a gag that Andy played on Clyde Gray, a new anchor at WXII, while
he was on the air live during the news. It seems that Andy, with help from a
guy I worked with there later, named Tim Rice, threw some fishing line up
over the girders in the studio, Tim held one end of the line while Andy tied
the other end to a rope coiled up on the studio floor.
Later, when Clyde was on the air, Andy came in there and sat down in the
floor behind the rope, and acted like a snake charmer, playing an imaginary
flute, while Tim pulled on the fishing line, causing the rope to rise like a
snake!.. That's got to be the wildest gag I've ever heard of anywhere.
Once, I was talking to Andy on the radio, and he told me that once at WXII he
was on Master Control (a duty to which I was also sentenced) and was running
a movie on the air, when suddenly the picture went backward and upside down.
Whoever spliced the film had spliced it backward. I asked him what he did,
and he said, "What could I do? I let it run like that till it got to the
other end of the splice." I myself would have probably panicked and cut
out of it immediately, putting on a standby show. Andy invited me to visit
him so we could swap "war stories". I really regret that I never
took time to do so.
I believe that Andy did very well with what life threw at him. He was smart
enough to work with and even build things that most people didn't understand
or were even able to operate properly, in some cases. And he didn't even let
a very serious, debilitating physical problem stop him, at least for very
long. How could anyone help but admired person with such "intestinal
fortitude" and determination? My God, what COULD he have done, had he
not been disabled?! I THOUGHT I was pretty smart with this stuff, but when I
first heard of all that elaborate control and auto patch on 04/64, and
learned that Andy had designed and built all that ... good grief, he had me
outgunned 200 to 1, at least!
This was a great inspiration to me. I wanted to be like Andy (except for
physical problems) and be able to do stuff like he was doing, but I didn't
quite make it.
Although I do not personally care for the Internet, Email, cell phones and
all this other "digital" stuff, Andy was already there, ready to
take full advantage of it, even before most people had ever heard of such a
Billy Joel had a hit song in late 1978 called "Only the Good Die
Young". It is unfortunate, but often true. Now, we must add the name
Andrew Martin Pitts to that list.
I also wanted to add that when my father was getting ready to go on kidney
dialysis, I had him ask Dr. Burkhart out at Baptist if he knew Andy, and he
said that he did indeed know him, and that he said Andy sometimes acted like
he knew more that the doctors. That remark the preacher made today at the
memorial service about some disagreements at the dialysis center reminded me
(Editors comment, [the Editor being Andy's Mom] In some ways, that remark was
true. Andy understood the working of the machines better than most of the
doctors. One day, an engineer from Baxter spent 3 hours with Andy talking
about improvements that needed to be made to the machines. Most of the
engineers had no experience USING the machines, and Andy, being himself an
engineer, could give suggestions from a different perspective about
improvements that were needed. In the early stages of Andy's dialysis, when
he went onto peritoneal dialysis, the patients were in extreme pain during
the first interchange of dialysate introduced into the body cavity. During
the time that the machines were not in use they were filled with formaldehyde
to keep the machines from having germs introduced into them. When it was time
to use the machines, they had to have the formaldehyde rinsed out. It was
Andy who learned that the person who taught them how to test the machine (to
see if the machine was ready for use) was in error. When it was called to the
attention of the nurse/teacher, and corrections were made, the pain issue was
removed. Dr Bob Hamilton, who was one of the head doctor's in the renal
failure department, personally thanked Andy for solving that problem.)
I liked what was said at the cemetery about God needed Andy more that the
rest of us, because He might be having a problem and called Andy to his
eternal home so that he could solve it.
Sincerely, Tim Wishon
Tim Wishon <firstname.lastname@example.org>
USA - Monday, November 05, 2001 at 01:53:18 (EST)
I never used your web services, but knew several that did. Thanks to your
dedication and work, I was able to keep in contact with them.
NC USA - Monday, May 27, 2002 at 00:43:04 (EDT)
I was sad to learn about Andy's death just now, in April 2002. I was trying
to figure out just exactly how early I was on Usenet, and this dated to my
days in Winston-Salem before I went off to Seattle. I used Red Barn Data
Center and even did a bad job at contracting a dialup installation program
for them. I remember both Andy and Catherine as good people. I believe I
helped them move some equipment around one day, and I'll always remember the
kind of dedicated "Mom and Son" operation it was.
Brandon Van Every <vanevery@3DProgrammer.com>
Seattle, WA USA - Wednesday, April 10, 2002 at 18:03:18 (EDT)
From Helen Rike came this little story. (Helen's family had a cottage at High
Rock Lake across the road from our cottage. The Rike boys and my two boys,
Tommy and Andy, were good friends.)
Helen was remembering the time that her two boys and Andy were having a frog
race. They had caught some rather large frogs on the lake bank. Helen was
remembering that when the boys finished the frog race, Andy was the one who
would gather up the frogs and return them to the lake. She said that Andy was
so kind-hearted that he wanted the frogs returned to the place from whence
they had come.
I saw the movie they made about you the other day. The preacher said,
"God lives!" That means that you never died; that you just left,
going where I will be and all believers will be one day.
That will be the day when the scripture, "Joy Cometh in the
Morning........" will be exactly and totally filled.
Your Mom misses you very much, as you know. But, she is fixing up your red
house! She is still as young and as much fun as ever.
As for your mom, I would like to say that you were her love and she has lived
and lives a beautiful life. She is intriguing (she will correct my spelling
Maybe I'll be back-at-cha soon.
I love you, Andy,
Barbara A. Snider <email@example.com>
Lewisville, NC USA - Tuesday, March 26, 2002 at 15:06:09 (EST)
I warmly remembered RBDC from the past; so I came to visit
it again as a potential service provider. I was somewhat shocked by the news.
I remember Catherine once mentioning Andy having a health problem which made
him unavailable to talk, but I never realized the severity of his situation.
I am sorry for Catherine's enormous loss and for the
premature departure of Andy. Unfortunately, there is not much I can do or say
to help. We are all helpless against the the forces of God and nature.
We can only weather the stormy seasons that come upon us using the gifts
that we are given. I do believe that everything has a time and a purpose. We
don't always understand it, and I contend that we commonly don't. That only
shows our foolishness, not that there isn't a divine providence at work. I
suspect that I cannot comprehend the loss a mother can feel. I never knew
Andy or Catherine well, but I could certainly judge that they were good
people who were worthy of my respect.
Thomas Corriher <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Mocksville, N.C. USA - Monday, November 26, 2001 at 20:34:41 (EST)
So sorry to hear of Andy's passing. I only spoke with him twice but easily
recall his gentleness and desire to help. Days and lives pass with time but
memories last forever. I wish you comfort as you cherish those.
You are a special mother, Catherine. I pray the Lord's blessing upon you.
Please call anytime you need an ear.
Winston-Salem, NC USA - Sunday, November 25, 2001 at 21:37:57 (EST)
Dear Aunt Kitten,
I know you wanted us to send you our fondest recollections of Andy. I have so
many it was hard to choose. I think the best memories I have were of all of
us "cuzzins" at the lake house. Tracey, me, Andy, Tommy, etc. To
Tracey and me, I think Andy was like the big brother we didn't have. Of
course there was the time when I was about five that I decided to marry him.
My parents thought that was funny---I guess because "Southerners"
have this reputation for "kissing cousins":) Seriously, though, I
guess I could say that Andy helped me to learn to "think outside the
box". To try to look deeper into things, not just accept the way things
are without question. In that way, he helped me in the way I relate to my
world and probably in the shaping of some of my personality. Perhaps he even
was a push on the path to my becoming a teacher. He certainly was the reason
I have no fear of snakes!;) (He always seem to have one around!
But my best thoughts of him are still from childhood. A memory that keeps
coming back is when he would paddle us out to the middle of High Rock in that
big old truck inner-tube and play tricks on us: telling us there were lake
monsters, disappearing underwater for "'way toooo long!" and
grabbing our feet, entertaining us with tales of the legendary sandbar out
there where some people (maybe him and some buddies?) would sit down and pretend
to be drowning and a boat would come in to help and ground itself, then the
tricksters would stand up and walk over to the boat and ask for a ride in. I
love the image of us all out there in that sparkling water, just floating
along in that big circle and singing without a care in the world. I still
"go back there" in my mind when things get me down. Thanks, Andy,
for being such a great part of my life.
Your Cuz forever,
Peace from our house to yours!
Charisse Matisz-Cordero <email@example.com>
USA - Sunday, November 25, 2001 at 21:33:26 (EST)
I have been long gone from Winston for some time, but my
mother passed along information about Andy to me. We were friends back in
high school....which is starting to feel like some time ago. You may or may
not remember me, but I was at your house a number of times about the same
time the Datsun 2000 was getting an engine rebuild. I'd never seen the inside
of a real internal combustion engine before that.....I'm not sure Andy did me
any favors starting me down that path.
He did loan to me for a while the "Panic Box" - a simple metal cube
cabinet about 5 inches on each side with an electrical cord out one side. On
the top were two buttons, one labeled "Panic Button - Press only in case
of emergency" and another labeled "Squelch". I took it to West
High and left it plugged in for several teachers to discover. When you
pressed the Panic button it started a not-especially-loud but pretty annoying
electronic buzzer that stayed on. When you pressed squelch, the buzzer sort
of wound down and stopped.......but started back up again as soon as you let
go of it.
Unplugging it had no effect of course. The cord was merely a prop. You had to
have a magnet to turn it off at a spot on the case. It was great fun until I
handed to a friend as we got ready to precede to Raleigh in a car caravan to
have it handed back to me in pieces when we arrived. As you know, Andy had no
trouble fixing it.
This was all a bit before personal computers and all THAT. All those racks
and wires and audio stuff in his closet were merely holding space until the
next world was invented. What a fascinating mess it always was. Still makes
me feel ok about my garage just thinking about it.
I worked with Andy some on a morning radio show for kids through Youth
Council and we spent a bit of time hanging out. Quite educational for me. I
know it leaves a great void for you with his passing. You and Tom did a great
job and deserve the thanks of a lot of people for a great companion. I've
always missed his friendship as I left Winston right after high school and
have spent little time back.
My thoughts are with you.
Andy Holleman <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Anchorage, AK USA - Saturday, November 24, 2001 at 21:51:39 (EST)
Having known Andy for some time, and owing a debt of
gratitude when he found my work to be adequate for one of his best customers,
Andy serves as a tremendous encouragement to all who have met him. To both
Andy and Catherine, Red Barn Data Center and the special relation you both
demonstrate is to be noted by all. May we each have such support in our
lives. Thank you both!
Larry Dixon <email@example.com>
Winston-Salem, NC USA - Saturday, November 24, 2001 at 20:49:20 (EST)
I am not one for words, but I am thankful for the short
time I had with Andy. A while back I was helping him to get to his dialysis
treatments 2 days a week and I found out what a really funny man he was. It's
odd/strange/funny what you can find out about a person in a 10 minute car
ride. I always admired him for his get up and go, when it had got up and
left. I will miss him.
Donna Brown <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Winston-Salem, NC USA - Tuesday, November 06, 2001 at 21:40:01 (EST)
From: Terry Rhoades
Subject: RE: Andy died last evening.
Date: Wed, 17 Oct 2001 21:19:22 -0400
To: "Catherine W. Pitts"
Catherine, I am so sorry to hear of your loss, I know how much Andy meant
to you. You will be in our prayers.
Date: Thu, 18 Oct 2001 06:11:04 -0700 (PDT)
I don't have any funny or heart-warming stories to tell about Andy Pitts.
Truth is my dealings with him were very brief and seldom. I laid eyes on him
all of two times, and he did not know me from Adam except for having an
account with him and Red Barn. I do know something of him from that
experience though. I know he always humbly did what he could to help out
computer-illiterate numbskulls like me. I know he worked quietly and put in
hours that I would have found staggering. I know he did all this while
carrying physical and medical baggage that would have put most of us in
mental institutions. I've had the honor of knowing a number of heroes in my
life-people who risked and sometimes gave their lives in the most adverse
circumstances when they could just as easily done nothing. I've known even
more heroes who managed their heroics with less fanfare and pulled it off
over the long haul-folks who have quietly faced years of adversity and
managed to contribute to our lives. Andy was one of these guys. I'm honored
and enriched through my association with him, and know we are palpably
diminished by his absence.
From: Tracy Perez
Subject: Andy Date: Sat, 20 Oct 2001 04:58:09 -0700 (PDT)
When one is asked to share memories of someone as unique and extraordinary
as my cousin Andy, others might feel the need to burnish fond memories with
flights of hyperbole. Since I have never known any members of the Williams or
Wyatt clan to succumb to this device (pause now for ironic laughter), I can
say to you in complete honesty: Andy Pitts saved my life--more than once! The
first time was at a carnival--I have no recollection where, but I must have
been about 5. Andy and I were riding the rides, saving the adults from having
to accompany me on the Tilt-A Whirl and other brain scramblers. At some point
during a ride, I slipped out from under the lap restraint. Calmly and
quickly, Andy stretched himself across the opening of the carriage and
prevented me from flying out, while my mother frantically tried to get the
operator to stop the ride. Andy, not surprisingly. accepted the kudos of
those around with typical taciturnity! Around that same time in our lives, my
parents and I came to North Carolina for Christmas--and it snowed, which
naturally was a great treat for a little girl from Texas. I was introduced to
sledding. On one occasion, we went sledding down the driveway behind Aunt
Catherine and Uncle Tom's house--at night. To keep me from flying off the
sled, Andy lay down on top of me and we went down the hill--more carefully
than he would have enjoyed alone, I am sure.
He taught me the finer points about sledding, and was very patient. Perhaps
Andy's greatest gift to me was this: He saved me from life as a complete
nerd, because he and Tommy took me to my first rock concert. Had my cousins
been uncool, this could have been disastrous--we might have gone to see the
Cowsills. But, fortunately for me, we saw Steppenwolf--two years in a row!
Andy's and my tastes in music rarely coincided again (I'm not even sure that
he liked Steppenwolf), but it was a great night. I am sure that I was a great
disappointment to Andy in many ways. He tried, desperately, to teach me about
electronics & computers (by the way, for those who do not know me, I am a
proud Luddite who uses a computer only when absolutely necessary. This is
about my second e-mail--ever!) He and Tommy tried to get me up on water skis,
but I failed at that too (although they were both very sweet and said it was
just because my feet were too small for the skis-obviously this was a LONG
time ago). Andy did teach me to drive a stick shift--very well I might add,
after my poor father and I had once again proven why parents should not teach
their children to drive. He did, however make sure that we practiced in my
dad's car and not on HIS transmission! I wish that I could be with you all
today. Have fun and hoist a Cheer-wine for me.
Rock on, Andy!
From: George Malindzak
Subject: Andy remembered...
Date: Sat, 20 Oct 2001 08:07:31 -0400
To: Catherine Pitts
I have waited until now to write you about Andy because I wanted to
collect my thoughts and try to put him in perspective with our own child
Katherine. In many ways they were alike. From the outside world, they appeared
to have a 'handicap'; from their world, they were ordinary people struggling
to survive like the rest of us. They knew no obstacle they could not
overcome, and they were successful. These characteristics are a direct
reflection on the parenting. We encouraged their independence; we nurtured
their development; we suffered in silent pain and tears knowing that the
bliss we were enjoying would be all too short. Yet we moved from day to day
as though it would last forever. But it didn't ...now we look back at the
wonderful and incredible odds they overcame and how happy they were, and how
proud we are of that short sweet lifetime, with tears of joy and sorrow so
mixed that we cannot tell one from the other. It is so sweet....so bitter
sweet, but as parents we know that feeling all too well; now it comes in a
different form. Andy should and will be remembered for his perseverance and
his desire to and success of living, especially the life he wanted. We will
join you in that memory rejoicing in proud reverence...We did a great job
with the hand we were dealt...stand tall ...smile and cry at the same time...
From: Cheryl Skipwith
Subject: Andy Date: Wed, 17 Oct 2001 19:43:53 -0300
To: "Catherine W. Pitts"
With great sadness I greet you. I truly was sorry to hear about Andy. Andy
was an inspiration to both my husband and me as far as Dialysis goes. My
husband has been on dialysis for 13 years and I for 5. Andy was a role model
as to perseverance on dialysis. As a friend he explained many things about
the computer whenever I asked. He will truly be missed by us and many others
at Piedmont Dialysis. May God bless you and keep you.
Love, Cheryl Skipwith
From: B.J. Barlow
Subject: WA4GIC: Fw: Andy Pitts Obit
Date: Tue, 16 Oct 2001 21:29:52 -0400
Dear Mrs. Catherine, It's BJ! I am forwarding a copy of your message to my
local "ham club." I do not have my license, but I monitor our local
repeater. I imagine that some of these guys knew your son, Andy!
Subject: Andy's death
Date: Tue, 16 Oct 2001 21:53:40 -0400
To: Catherine Pitts
We were so sorry to hear of Andy's death. I know you were so close to him.
It is really hard to lose a child, and you have lost two of them. It is just
not the natural order of things. Our thoughts are very much with you at this
time. We will try to get over sometime in the very near future to see you.
Please take special care of yourself. You know we love you.
From: "Janet T. Wynne"
Subject: re: Andy died last evening.
Date: Tue, 16 Oct 2001 10:15:20 EDT
Kitten -- I am so sorry to hear about Andy. Charisse call me last night to
let me know. She also left a voice mail for Joan. I am going to e-mail Chip
after I send this. It has been a very long time since I saw Andy. I remember
him as being a very precocious child. I also remember him as having a very
intelligent and technical mind. Hopefully, he can use these attributes in
Heaven. I know his dying has caused a big gap in your life, and if there is
anything I can do for you, please let me know.
Janet T. Wynne
Office of the Director Air Program Coordination
From: Barbara Potter
Subject: Re: A request ---
Date: Tue, 16 Oct 2001 08:27:21 -0400
To: "Catherine W. Pitts"
Catherine, I never met Andy and I only talked to him once, briefly, on the
phone. But I've heard wonderful things about him from my friend John Barlow,
and from others in the RBDC 'family' as well. Please accept my heartfelt condolences
for your loss. I'll be leaving town tomorrow for the weekend, so I'll
probably miss any services you have planned for him. But I wanted to let you
know that I'll be thinking of you. I'm sure there is rejoicing in Heaven
today because Andy has come home again. And from what I've heard of him over
the years, those who's life he touched here on earth will remember him with
fondness and respect. As a mother with four sons, I salute you for a job very
well done, and will keep you in my thoughts and prayers as you make this
difficult adjustment. With love and sympathy,
From: charisse matisz-cordero
Subject: Date: Sun, 14 Oct 2001 17:06:00 -0400
Dear Aunt Kitten, I was so shocked and saddened to hear about Andy's
passing. Tracey had told me earlier that it looked like things would be ok,
but now this. I am having trouble dealing with it myself, but I am most concerned
about you right now. I hate being so far from you at this time. I hope the
family is supporting you. I know you are very strong and always have been,
but I hope there are people there for you. Andy has always been a special
person. His illness concerned all of us. His (and your) bravery in the face
of it all was amazing. My husband is sad about the news. I have called my
sister and left a message and talked to my Mother also. She was very sad as
well. My prayers and thoughts have been with you over the last couple of
weeks, and especially now. Please let me know what I can do. Love, Charisse
Subject: Date: Thu, 25 Oct 2001 11:03:22 -0400
I was so sorry to hear about Andy. I know you will miss him. Here is my
remembrance of Andy, someone I admired and liked a great deal. I met Andy at
the dialysis center where he spent the better part of every tues., thurs.,
and sat. Though I was not young, I was new to the nursing specialty of dialysis
and at the time I met Andy I was feeling overwhelmed with all the new terms
and very technical skills I needed to master as well as the usual tension and
anxiety that accompanies a new job. The first time I actually talked to Andy
was after he had finished an ardent and heated discussion by phone. I know
now that he was probably attempting to correct some complicated and technical
glitch at Red Barn Data Center. At the time, when I asked him what in the
world had gotten him so worked up, Andy made some cryptic comment about
something amiss at "red barn." When I asked what red barn was he
told me it was an ISP. I'm sure I had a blank stare as I had no idea what an
ISP was and certainly did not want to give this obviously bright young man any
reason to think I was as dumb as I felt that day!
Though I did not work in the area where Andy received his dialysis treatments
I knew who he was. He arrived earlier than anyone (first appointments were at
6:30 am) and was accompanied by either his mother or father who brought him
in and then returned some 4 to 5 hours later to take him home. I knew who he
was because he and his parents often seemed more like staff than patients!
Andy's parents were always brisk, energetic and optimistic. Andy was
obviously very knowledgeable about all things computer and about his
dialysis. Andy would only allow certain staff to assist him with his
treatments and the day that I was assigned to his area I was chagrined when
he told me that rather than wait for another nurse, I could connect him to
his machine. When I told Andy that I was nervous because I was certain he
knew as much or more than I did about dialysis he acknowledged that this was
probably true but that he would tell me what I needed to do! How Andy!
Pungent remarks on politics, religion, dialysis, to name a few topics, (and
often when you least expected them) were also very Andy. When I decided to
buy a computer it was Andy who gave me such good advice about what to buy,
where to buy it, how to hook up etc. If not for Andy I would be trying to
type this on a typewriter! Andy was indeed a unique individual and if he
heard me say that he'd just agree and tell me that his uniqueness was due to
your memories of Andy