- The Washington Times - Friday, January 14, 2005

RICHMOND — Former state Sen. Hunter B. Andrews of Hampton, the irascible longtime chairman of the powerful Finance Committee, died at his home Thursday night. He was 83.

Mr. Andrews had attended a commission meeting on Capitol Square as recently as last week.

The cause of death was not immediately known.

Mr. Andrews also served as the Senate majority leader when Democrats controlled the 40-member body.

Lawmakers were somber and quiet as they filed into the Capitol yesterday morning. Senior lawmakers who knew Mr. Andrews struggled with their emotions.

“I’m just hollow right now,” said Sen. John H. Chichester, Stafford Republican and Finance Committee chairman, who counted Mr. Andrews as his mentor and his friend.

“That type of individual doesn’t come along every day. He loved to serve, to be involved. He loved to pick up the phone and listen to me as I struggled, first as co-chairman of Finance and then as chairman,” Mr. Chichester said.

“I feel like I just lost another father,” said Senate Clerk Susan Clarke Schaar, a Senate staff employee since 1974.

Mr. Andrews was elected to the Senate in 1963 and was its longest-serving member when he was upset by Republican Marty Williams of Newport News in 1995.

“I am sorry I let you down,” a stunned Mr. Andrews told supporters on election night. “I fought a good fight.”

Mr. Andrews had a sharp wit, and he wielded enormous clout over three decades when the Democrats controlled every institution of state government. His whim could derail a bill and a barbed remark could deflate a bloated ego, former colleagues recalled yesterday.

“I don’t know of many members of the General Assembly who haven’t been cut off at the knees by Hunter,” House Minority Leader Franklin P. Hall of Richmond said.

“I pity St. Peter and all those angels up there in heaven,” said Sen. R. Edward Houck, Spotsylvania Democrat, one of several senators who eulogized Mr. Andrews on the Senate floor. “They don’t have any idea who just arrived and is going to take command up there.”

Years after he lost his seat as the Republicans surged to power in the 1990s, Mr. Andrews re-emerged on Capitol Square as an elder statesman, serving on boards and commissions dealing with cost-effective government and reining in fiscal crises that arrived with the 21st century.

Gov. Mark Warner, a Democrat, appointed him as a senior member of a commission headed by former Gov. L. Douglas Wilder that studied reforms to make state government more efficient beginning in 2002.

“Even in retirement, Senator Andrews continued to serve the people of the commonwealth with energy and distinction,” Mr. Warner said yesterday.

Mr. Andrews was serving on a commission studying a constitutional amendment to allow governors to serve two consecutive terms.

Mr. Andrews was at the height of his influence in an era when larger-than-life personalities ruled the staid, clubby Senate and debate was often robust. But, Mr. Andrews would lament in a 2004 interview that times have changed.

“They don’t know each other well enough, and they don’t know how to relax,” said Mr. Andrews, observing that lawmakers today spend too much time on partisanship and leave no time after hours to work on friendships.

Mr. Andrews was a graduate of the College of William & Mary and the University of Virginia law school. He served in the Navy during World War II.

He is survived by his wife, Cynthia; a daughter, Bentley Andrews; and two grandchildren. A son, Booker Andrews, preceded him in death.

The funeral will be at 11 a.m. Monday at St. John’s Episcopal Church in Hampton. The Senate postponed its Monday session from noon until 2 p.m. to allow senators to attend.

Bob Lewis contributed to this report.

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