The following are but a fraction of the letters of love and praise the Harris Family has received regarding the loss of their beloved son.
Anonymous Friend of Andrew Harris:
I cannot begin to express how sorry I am for your loss. I have been wanting to reach out to you all since Andrew’s passing, but I have not been able to find the words. When I was little, the ( ) were my neighbors and ( ) was one of my best friends. Naturally, I spent time with Andrew because I spent most of my childhood attached to ( ). However, my bond with Andrew did not really begin to take shape until high school and it really solidified in college. Andrew and I always knew each other in elementary school, middle school, and the beginning of high school through sports and mutual friends, but with age our friendship grew stronger.
In high school, we had a similar friends. We were always traveling in the same circles and hanging out at the same places. I attended ( ), so I didn’t get to spend as much time with Andrew in college, but I saw him nearly every weekend of our Freshman year, especially that first summer when we all did Summer B. That summer several of my friends started at ( ), so I spent nearly every weekend making the journey to ( ). There were several of us up there that first summer and we were all trying to adjust to the freedom of college while living away from home, but we found comfort in each other (and beer). That summer is very near and dear to my heart. Several of my fondest memories from college involve Andrew and that summer. It was a simpler time when we were all young, fairly innocent, and care free. We dove head first into college, but we did it together holding hands and I couldn’t have asked for a better group of friends to face the world with.
Andrew had a heart of gold. His smile, presence, personality, and demeanor could light up any room he walked into and I was always happy to see him. Many of my memories with Andrew involve just relaxing and drinking a beer at someone’s house or a day out on the boat with friends. However, I realized just how special Andrew was my senior year of college. I was going through a tough time. My boyfriend and I broke up after years of dating and I felt a little lost in the world. I didn’t know who my friends were and I felt very alone. One weekend a friend convinced me to return to ( ) for the weekend. I was nervous because I thought it would bring back old memories and make me sad. On our first night out, we ran into Andrew at a bar. He was so happy to see me and genuinely concerned about how I was doing and why I hadn’t been around for the past few months. He spent the whole night hanging out with me, making sure I was having a good time, and making me feel welcome in a city that suddenly felt so foreign. My friends and I spent the rest of the weekend hanging out with Andrew and I don’t think we stopped laughing from Friday until Sunday. I will be forever grateful to Andrew for remaining a loyal friend to me, for always caring about my well being, and for never failing to cheer me up and bring a smile to my face.
After college, I moved away for several years. Every time I returned home, I always ran into Andrew and it felt like no time had passed. He was one of those friends that you could see every day or once every few years, but you could always pick up right where you left off. Since I attended ( ), I was a pretty big ( ) fan, but Andrew never held that against me. I started law school at ( ), but when I saw Andrew in the summer of 2012 and told him I was transferring to ( ) Law, a grin a mile wide spread across his face and he said “I always knew you were a ( ).” I ran into Andrew at the Square Grouper the Friday before the accident. I am so thankful I got to see him one last time because any time spent with Andrew was precious time. The night after the funeral, several of us went to the inlet to say good bye. The boys sat on the rocks and reminisced and I walked the beach thinking about Andrew and the mark he left on the world. The inlet was calmer than I had ever seen it and the night was eerily quiet. It felt as if Andrew had the same calming and comforting presence on the waves of the ocean and the inlet as he did on me.
While I’m sure you’ve heard this time and time again, thank you for raising such an amazing man. When I look back, I cannot think of a time when I was mad at Andrew or annoyed with him. It is rare that you meet a person with as many admirable qualities as he possessed and even more rare for someone so young to make such a sizable impression on so many people. Although his life was far too short, he impacted more people and experienced more things than many do in 80 years. I will always remember Andrew and I will never forget the effect he had on my life and the lives of those around me. While I know nothing can fill the void left behind, I want to offer you all my sincerest condolences. I would be more than happy to help in any way possible with the golf tournament and assist with the foundation in any way I can.”
Anonymous Neighbor of Andrew Harris:
“I didn’t get to speak with you at the service, there were so many more that you needed to be with and you needed the time to share. But I thank you for the beautiful service, and making even those you didn’t know feel so welcome. I felt out of place in my Guy Harvey saltwater fish blouse, but thought Andrew would think it was cool.
So I wore it for him.
Andrew was such a breath of fresh air in our little condo community. I watched his grace and elegance and his way with people and saw I should have done things much differently.
The community has a huge hole in its heart with him gone, but it is just another testament to his versatility and that serenity and confidence that all of you spoke of on Friday.
I took for granted that I would see him several times a week and every weekend. Two doors down, so simple things like taking out the garbage and doing laundry, even those tasks of everyday life; but a word or five or fifty from him and suddenly everything was brighter, funnier. He had the greatest smile I will miss every day.
I ate Kingfish for the first time, and loved it, thanks to your son.
I realize it cannot compare with your loss, but this building feels so cold right now and dark. So you should know that this enigmatic person just floated about making everyone he came in contact with happier to be alive. I think we are all so scared that maybe we didn’t watch over him hard enough that day. We all will have to live with that.
But we all enjoyed him and I know everyone here loved him dearly. We will attempt to honor him by remembering his joyful presence and there will always be a safe dock here for him in all of our hearts. I know board discussion is already underway for a permanent plaque here commemorating him at ( ).
I met a woman at the service who told me that he was trying to save that girl that was struggling in harms way. I think she sat next to me for a reason. Now it finally makes sense. I know that that is the truth.
I know I am not alone in saying you have to encounter greatness, so that it can rub off on you.
I’m so grateful that some of his gold dust had a chance to sprinkle on me. I hope I haven’t upset you, but I thank you so much for allowing me to speak about what could have been just a random acquaintance, who turned into such a touchstone of my life. I feel so lucky I met Andrew. I found out after the service; I guess I was just one of many, given who he was, but I think it would matter to him, and I hope you too; Andrew changed my life for the better. I can count on one hand people I know that I can say that about.
I am sure you knew it wasn’t just his close friends and family that he had such an overwhelmingly positive effect on, but I thought it bared repeating, especially now. It was how he lived and breathed.
Thank you for raising such an incredible person, who at so young an age had the ability to inspire people to enhance and change their lives.
I hope I am not being overbearing here, but if you find a fish t shirt of Andrew’s without a home, I would be honored to wear it with pride. I hope I am not out of bounds here. but it would truly mean the world to me.
It is two weeks now, but I am without a clue as to why this happened. I hope I get to meet you someday.
All my love,”
One of countless Andrew Harris fans for life
“Scott & Martha,
I know your world has been turned upside down with the passing of Andrew. MP & I think and talk about him often, of your family and the pain you all have been suffering. He was more then a child and son of yours, but a young man that was created and influenced by the love, direction and teachings the two of you bestowed upon him. And what a model man he became under your guidance.
While today marks the two month milestone since this tragic day which took him away, it still seems like yesterday, but in retrospect his remarkable influence on us all will live forever. What I remember most, is his mild calming manner in which he conducted himself. I never found him to be confrontational, but always inquisitive as he was searching for information to improve upon his daily life and to assist others that could use direction. That passion to learn and then in turn help others was a gift.
I had the privilege of spending some quality time with him skiing in Utah the last two seasons, and it was nothing but a pleasure. Skiing in the tree’s, in the powder, he just couldn’t get enough of it. He loved the freedom and ability to share with his extended family, Nature and the outdoors in the mountains. He was very passionate about learning how to ski better and improve his skills. Just like in his everyday life, learning from you on the Insurance business, and from Martha on how to treat others kindly, with a smile and enthusiasm that is infectious. I don’t believe he had a mean bone or hair in his body. He didn’t even need to know you in order to provide support to a stranger, with a helping hand or kind words and always with that quirky smile. And his ability to be empowered, and provide positive actions on behalf of another without even being asked was remarkable.
We can all learn from him, and his ability to bring calm to a storm and reach out to others in need. His legacy and passion will stay within our hearts and I hope we in turn can learn to mimic many of the actions he demonstrated to us on a daily basis to enrich the lives of others.
Andrew was a gift of God that has returned to him, much earlier then we all would have liked, but his influence on us all will be forever lasting in our lives. I know words cannot fully describe his character, and they will not overcome the sorrow we feel, but we are all united with you and your family as we take time to reflect on his life over and over and the positive impact he has on our lives as we try to move forward.
We love you all and will support you in anyway we can to help at a moments notice. Please reach out any time you need an ear to listen, a hand to grab, a smile to see or a word of encouragement.”
With kind regards,
Chris R.’s Letter:
“Dear Mr. & Mrs. Harris, Christina, and Ryan,
There hasn’t been a day that has passed where I haven’t thought of Andrew. The memory of your son and brother brings a smile to my face, even if followed by a tear. A smile accompanied with a tear is well worth it.
I laugh at the good times he and I had, and miss him so much. The time we drove back to Tallahassee, blaring “There Goes My Hero” on the radio, screaming the lyrics at the top of our lungs. The times of playing golf (even if those times were extremely frustrating). Me in the bunker trying to save face with triple bogey. Andrew waiting on the green, playfully patronizing me with his birdie. The times we would fish off your dock. Again, he’d always seem to have something on the line, while I sat envious, hoping anything would come along. I wish the last time I saw him was not our last. That brief encounter, his infectious smile covering his face. All he wanted to know was how I was doing, barely even giving me a chance to ask how he was. Andrew was never selfish when it came to others.
Everyday I try to celebrate his life, in anyway I can. Everyday trying to live up to the standard he set. I ask myself, “What would Red do here?” But, then this inevitable feeling washes over me. Yes, there is always sadness when I think of him, but there is also happiness. I am glad I have the pleasure of calling Andrew my friend. Because of how driven, ambitious, and confident he was, the bar he set is too high. Mr. and Mrs Harris, you raised an amazing son, I hope you know that. Christina and Ryan, the amount of lives your brother touched is astonishing. All any of us can do is try our best to live up to his example, knowing full well we will never reach it. But we graciously accept it, now a fact of life, like the sky is blue and the sun is bright.
Andrew will always be in my thoughts and prayers, as will you. Just know we all care, and if there is anything you need, please do not hesitate to reach out.”
Sincerely and respectfully,
There is a photo Andrew and I took after a day of fishing. We caught a dolphin off the coast. I was hoping if there was any possible way for you to send it to me. I’d like to frame it and have it in my room. That day was my favorite and most memorable day with Andrew.
Anonymous Friend of Andrew Harris:
Two months ago you heroically went up to heaven
And none of us have been the same since then.
Words cannot describe how our heavy hearts feel
But the joy of having you in our lives is unreal.
Memories with you are definitely the best
From fishing and golfing to FSU’s best.
Your character and smile always beam like sunshine
Please continue to give your family strength and courage during this time.
Keep giving us signs that everything will be better
We love you always, forget you never.
Anonymous Friend of Andrew Harris:
“While in the keys this past weekend, we naturally decided to go snorkeling. As the boat took us out to the reef, I of course instantly thought of you… the crystal clear water, the calmness of the water, the reef, the fish… I felt your spirit swimming next to me, showing me the different fish and warning me about the shark!
Later that night at dinner, the band decided to slow things down, and started playing “drink a beer” by Luke Bryant. I sat in the chair surrounded by family and friends, and felt you were sitting next to me with a Landshark checking in on how things were going. Of course the tears started to flow… as they do whenever I think of you. Every time I pull into my driveway, I look for where your boat use to be, and hope to hear you yelling hello as I pull into my garage.
I wanted to post this, and send it out into the universe, for not only my own comfort of thinking that I am talking to you, but to also tell you that not a day has gone by where I haven’t thought of you. You are still here, for all your friends and family, giving them that comfort and reminder of the important things in life and beyond.
I miss you and love you my friend….. xo”
“Martha and I went to upstate New York to visit Ryan in Mid July. We visited Niagara on the Lake, Ontario, rented bikes and stopped for lunch when it started to pour. A man at the table next to us jokingly asked if there were valets to go get their car. I told him he should be glad he wasn’t on a bike and heads turned all around.
I called the bike shop and asked if they would pick us up and spare us the three mile ride through the rain and they declined.
Martha piped up and said, “come on Andrew, help us out!”
A few minutes later the all-day-looking rain stopped, the skies cleared and we rode back to the bike shop.
An hour later were were headed down the bridge back into the US when we came up on a backup waiting to clear the customs station. The car in front of us slammed on their brakes and skidded to the right. We stopped inches short of the car they had swerved away from and I looked into the rear view mirror. Sure enough, a couple cars back I heard the “boom” of a collision. The woman at the customs booth said it was the third accident that day.
As we pulled away from customs we looked to our left and saw an exact replica of Andrew’s 2005 silver Ford Explorer.
I posted the story on Facebook under the heading “Coincidences Today”, but pulled it off after 30 minutes. In the time it was posted, there was one comment, “I don’t think things like that are coincidences”, he wrote.
The person who posted that is the same person who wrote us the following letter about the coke bottle 6 weeks later.”
Anonymous Friend of Andrew Harris:
“Dear Martha and Scott,
I wanted to relay this little story (which to us was not so little) behind the Diet Coke bottle.
Kim and I were riding home for dinner the other night, down Center Street, and we were talking about the night a couple weeks ago when we saw you guys at Lauren and Miles’ house. It was a heartfelt conversation as you can imagine.
Needless to say we were talking about Andrew and kind of in the middle of the conversation I remembered I was out of Diet Coke. We were about to pass the Circle K so I turned into the lot. I went inside and they have a Coke frig right in front with all the Coke products. So I reached in without looking, as I have done many times, and pulled out this Diet Coke with Andrew’s name on it.
I kind of freaked a little, like “No Way”. The lady at the counter said, “what’s the matter”? I gathered myself, smiled, and said, “everything is fine”. I got into the car and held the soda up so Kim could see it. I think we both said “yup” at the same time. I looked up for a second and we drove home in silence.
God’s speed, Andrew!”
From a Massage Therapist Who Worked on Andrew Harris:
“Sometimes my sessions are quiet and serene, but of course, not with Andrew…so much life to share!
But there were moments of serenity, peace and rest as well in our time together. Extremely bright, articulate, kind, sharp humor, passionate about life, and deep compassion, love and admiration for his family…he shared his plan of working with his father in the insurance business, traveling, fishing and diving and how special his home life was; his upbringing. Bragged about his brother and commented that his sister was strong minded, smart and very pretty.
But most of all he talked about his diving and fishing adventures with his dad (family). When I asked him early in our conversation what made a young man like himself pursue a career in the insurance business, he said because he grew up having his Dad around all the time and what a difference it made in his life and his family’s life. He went on to explain about all the things his Dad had taught him and the experiences they got to share…the skills, the fishing and diving, travel…the friendship and closeness of his family. He said he couldn’t think of a better life than that…the life HE had, so he could work with his Dad, be with his family and have the freedom to do the things he loved to do. That’s why he chose his profession.
He seemed very excited to be home from college continuing his dream life. Invincible he was on that day and I imagine it’s how he lived everyday. He gave me his business card and charming yet professional insurance pitch before he left, and after he asked me to see a picture of my daughter. I felt very privileged to have met a young man with such confidence, direction and passion for life. He reminded me of my sons and nephews and I always hoped the very best for him.
I have a few words I was impressed upon to share as I prayed for your family and the unimaginable burden of Andrew’s, “Red’s” passing. I was hesitant at first, but as I was writing these words a huge osprey swooped down and I felt a sign it was okay (and important) to share…
He is There
Andrew is the warmth of the sun on your face as you begin each new day.
He is in the smell of the salt air and in the feel of sand between your toes.
He is the touch of a cooling breeze on your skin in the heat of the day.
He is in the sunset, the thunderstorm and in the beauty and wonder of the day.
He is in the changing of the tides that he watched so closely every day.
He is the sound of laughter in the telling of a clever good story shared with family and friends…and strangers alike.
He is in the taste of a delicious meal and cold drink celebrating life.
He is in the silent sound of the underwater serene ocean; in the serenity of its deep calm.
He is in the sound of your beating heart being supported and held up.
He is in the past and present vision of all the things you have done for him and still do.
He is there.
Although he is with the Angels now and your eyes don’t see him, your heart can feel him and know he will always be with you in all you do.
Andrew is in life, he is there!
There are men who live a whole lifetime and never have half the life (no, a third of the life!) that Andrew experienced with you. A life you all made possible for him; for each other. May each of you be blessed and find true rest and peace soon and have a life that is “tastey all day”! As he would want it!
Well done Mom and Dad! Well done!”
Anonymous Friend of Andrew Harris:
It has now been a year since that tragic day that we will never forget and not a day goes by that I do not think of him. I think about that day and the sadness I felt and the sadness that consumes me still as I write this letter. It is a deep feeling that I still have trouble understanding and think I may never fully grasp. These moments of sadness happen often but are fleeting, quickly replaced my memories of him that put a big smile on my face. With a smile on my face and a tear in my eye I can remember the good times we had as if they were yesterday.
Andrew and I had many memorable moments that will live on forever in my mind and I will cherish them for a life time. Andrew was truly a once in a life time friend through thick and thin.
This letter could go on for pages about the man he became, the friend he was and how much he meant to us all. This letter is to let you know that today, along with every other day since that day, I think of him looking down watching after us all making sure we keep our heads up, our noses to the grind stone and of course a smile on our face.