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Andrew  Willie

Andrew "Andy" Willie

Sunday, February 1st, 1931 - Friday, May 29th, 2020
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Obituary

Andrew Willie, 89, of Newtown, was called to join his beloved Rita Hevesy-Comito Willie in life-eternal on May 29, 2020, following a brief and valiant struggle with cancer at home, while surrounded by his large, loving family. Andrew was born an only child to Andrew Willie, Sr, and Alice Tasch Willie on February 1, 1931, in Queens, N.Y.

He and Rita, his wife of 69 years, met when they became neighbors and childhood friends while attending elementary school in St Albans, N.Y. By age 13 they were teenage sweethearts and engaged five years later. On December 1, 1951, Andrew married Rita at age 20 after enlisting in the US Navy during the Korean War. He was an engineman, specializing in engine repair, stationed on the USS Lindenwald (LSD-6) docked at Norfolk, Va., where Rita also took up residence. The main fleet consisting of 82 ships sailed on June 16, 1951, joining “Operation Blue Jay,” en route to Thule, Greenland. Andrew and Rita’s first two children were born during his four-year term in service.

It was Rita’s dream to have a home in the country. She designed, and Andrew built their estate on a parcel they called “Windy Hill Farm,” in Newtown. By 1965, they had five children, who by 2019 had grown to a family of 40. Windy Hill Farm evolved into a family compound where 56 Christmas Eve celebrations were shared in the original homestead since 1963. It was the hub for many front porch gatherings and poolside parties. Andrew and Rita loved to entertain and had an open-door policy with everyone, and a sign that read, Back Door Guests Are the Best. It was idyllic and reminiscent of modern day Norman Rockwell illustrations of everyday life, while capturing the spirit of small town America. There was always a full house, and it was the place you wanted to be. Their children remained close to their roots. Some built homes next door, and the sub-divided farmland on Butterfield Road acquired footpaths, woven through the fields and stone walls from eager grandchildren who cherished daily visits shared with their grandparents and plethora of cousins.

It was in 1959 that Andrew began working at Sandy Hook-based Curtis Packaging, where high-quality packaging was manufactured. He started as a flyboy, quickly working his way up the ranks to general manager. In 1981 Andrew became co-owner, until the sale of the company ten years later. His two sons, Tod and Jay, and son-in-law, Ricky, followed alongside him and spent their careers at Curtis Packaging, also.

Andrew was a people person and a generous man filled with integrity, talent, and wisdom and had a wonderful sense of humor. He knew how to make others feel valued with a respectful listening ear and imbued all the qualities of a trusted advisor and natural leader; the type of person people wanted to follow.

Rather than a future plan to retire, and with a supportive wife at his side, a strong entrepreneurial skill set, and desire to help others obtain their goals, Andrew became one of the founding fathers of the Independent Carton Group in 1982. This was a group where independent packaging manufacturers throughout the country band together for technology sharing, backup assurance, and later, high-volume discounted purchasing. At its 30-year anniversary celebration in Charleston, S.C., Andrew was honored with an Executive Director Emeritus title, and continued to work alongside his son, Jay, and daughter, Kim, as co-owners for the balance of his earthly life. It was an industry he enjoyed and grew with as a trailblazer.

Andrew and Rita were admired in their hometown community where Andrew volunteered on the Hawleyville Fire Department, Board of Ethics, Newtown Republican Committee, and as the longest running member of the Fairfield Hills Authority. He and Rita were proud of their daughter Amy Mangold's involvement in the community as director of the Newtown Parks & Recreation Department. Andrew was a Brother of the Masons for 50 years, and his friends and neighbors nicknamed him “Handy Andy” for his well-known ability to readily solve a mechanical or structural problem for others. Andrew was an American patriot, dedicated philanthropist, and took pride in taking time to ink-stamp his envelopes with the American Flag and “In God We Trust.”

He and Rita had many hobbies, loved music, and you could find them dancing just about anywhere. They traveled extensively making lifelong friends all along their journey. They were a couple who didn’t just live life, but loved life. With their wisdom, wit and enthusiasm, they inspired the American dream and die-hard romantic in others and were revered as role models.

Rita predeceased Andrew six months prior, due to a fall, and they are now joined together again in the arms of God. They are survived by their most treasured shared life accomplishment, Dru Willie Saren and Richard Saren of Middlebury, Tod and Bonnie DelBene Willie of Newtown, Jay and Lynette Preble Willie of Newtown, Kim Willie Pearce of Middlebury, Amy Willie Mangold and William Mangold of Newtown, all in Connecticut. In addition, their thirteen grandchildren, seven grandchildren-in-law, and ten great-grandchildren survive Andrew.

Due to the COVID-19 virus, there will not be a public memorial service, but a celebration of Andrew and Rita’s lives will be announced at a future date.

In lieu of flowers the family requests monetary donations may be made in memory of Andrew Willie to Ability Beyond, 4 Berkshire Boulevard, Bethel CT 06801, or e-mail info@abilitybeyond.org.
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Service Details

A Celebration of Life will be held when gatherings are once again allowed. Memorial donations may be made to Ability Beyond, 4 Berkshire Boulevard, Bethel, CT 06801, (888) 832-8247

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