So many people packed into the Oregon City hospice house to spend Andrew Thomas Wilch’s final days with him that the place looked more like a fraternity house than a hospice. Andy’s spirit was lifted by the outpouring of love he received in the weeks before March 17, 2023, when his 60-year-old body finally succumbed to corticobasal degeneration syndrome and early-onset Alzheimer’s.
Andy’s proudest achievements were being the cherished father of daughters Hannah and Eva, and making the world a better place by building affordable housing. During his 30-plus year career providing housing for those in need, he earned the respect of all he worked with.
Throughout his life, Andy moved through the world with confidence, and not only because his 6’7” frame forced people to literally look up to him. He was kind, funny, genuine, loving, and wise. He gave great hugs, was an outstanding judge of character, had a soft spot for the underdog, was never petty, and always took the high road. He was not materialistic in the least, prizing relationships above everything else. He showed up for people, both physically (e.g., weddings and funerals) and emotionally. He valued meaningful (even challenging) discussions, eschewed small talk, and was a great listener.
His years as an athlete (including playing basketball, of course) at North High School in Sioux City, Iowa, taught him to be calm under pressure—a talent honed to a superpower during his days as an EMT at Offutt Air Force Base in Omaha. His poker parties were the stuff of legend, as was his obsession with The World Almanac and Book of Facts.
Andy’s wife, Susan, knew he was “the one” when they first met in graduate school in Portland, Oregon, for Urban and Regional Planning. She fell in love with his gentleness, sense of humor and strong sense of self. While raising their daughters, Susan loved the fact that Andy never talked down to them—instead, he helped them understand why they should or shouldn’t do something, instead of simply saying, “Because I said so!” His daughters commented, “We didn’t know which was worse, Mom yelling for a minute, or Dad explaining for an hour.”
Despite a final stretch of illness and its sorrows, Susan says of her marriage, “It was a fast 28 years.”
Andy was preceded in death by his parents and his brother, Gabe. Along with Susan, Hannah, and Eva, he is survived by his brother Chris, many beloved cousins, nieces, nephews, great nieces and nephews, in-laws, and friends from his entire life. He was loved by many, loved many, and will be greatly missed.