Obituary of J. Andrew Church
James Andrew Church, born in Montreal March 21, 1956, unexpectedly died in his home in Toronto on August 10, 2022. Shocked and mourning family include longtime love, Lori Chapman, with whom he had a good and happy life; his daughters, Rebekah, Hallie (Nate) and Susannah, to whom he was so dedicated; his mother, Babs, who he supported so lovingly; his mother-in-law, Verna; his siblings and their partners, Elizabeth (Bill), Matthew (Patricia) and Erik (Paige); and his nieces, Lucy, Elinor, Alice, Olivia, and Izzy. He was predeceased by his father, J. Evan Church.
Throughout his life Andrew had a powerful presence, and even as a kid he was confident of his place in the world. At Westmount Park and Westmount High schools in Montreal, and at Robert H. Smith and River Heights schools in Winnipeg, his magnetism, sociability and natural leadership abilities put him at the centre of boisterous groups of friends. Attending first Champlain College CEGEP, and then Bishop’s University (art history) in Lennoxville, Quebec, his post-secondary education took place as much outside the classroom as in. Curious, intelligent and highly motivated, he explored life’s possibilities hungrily. This was when he took up travel to Asia and elsewhere, and, a natural businessman, began laying the groundwork for his future success as an importer of unique jewellery. He completed his formal study of art history at Sotheby’s in London and with an MA from University of Toronto.
It was in Lennoxville that he met and fell in love with Deborah Galardo. Together they lived with their three daughters in downtown Toronto. Andrew was intensely proud of and adored each of his daughters. His devotion to his children was immense; later, as a single father, he worked hard to create a family home, with strict attendance at dinner every night to discuss the day’s events (and work on perfecting table etiquette). Together they enjoyed many road trips, concerts, and wilderness adventures. Andrew nurtured close relationships with each of them into adulthood. He was so looking forward to becoming a grandfather this fall, a role he would’ve embraced with the same love, devotion and pride.
When Andrew met Lori Chapman in 1999, he found his ideal partner. Perfectly suited to one another it was not long before they were functioning as one. Lori’s natural warmth brought out the best in Andrew. They complemented each other both in growing the Plum Traders jewellery business together and in creating a fun and inviting atmosphere for friends and family. They were looking forward to a long and active retirement together, for which they had carefully prepared.
Andrew was pretty much always “prepared.” An adventurous soul, risk did not deter him; it motivated him. His calm and competence combined with an abiding sense of doing the right thing made him a good person to have when things went south. As unexpected as this terrible loss is, in typical fashion Andrew had prepared for it. He left his files and estate in impeccable order, with helpful and humorous notes on file to aid and lift our sorrowful spirits. Andrew lived life fully. He read world history with a passion. He studied and practiced mindfulness and meditation daily. When he took up gardening, he immersed himself in it, not only creating a spectacular space in their backyard, but amassing an encyclopaedic knowledge of plants. Personal
finance was another interest; he enjoyed both the intellectual challenge and the material risk-vs-reward of investing. Also dedicated to fitness and wellness, sadly it was not enough to allay a family curse, heart attacks.
It would be an oversight were this notice not to mention that Andrew, an appealing youth and a handsome man, had since boyhood been conscious of looking sharp. We remember the pride he took in sporting a white Sam Browne belt while working as a school crossing guard at 11, the well-tended long black locks of his teens, the funky “threads” and fur hats of his early 20s, the sharp image of his TV persona in his 50s, and always his casual stylishness.
Andrew’s untimely death leaves a good many in mourning, among them his business friends in Nepal, India and around the world; his many work relationships in North America; his valued old pals across Canada, and
more recent friends he made in his Roncesvalles neighbourhood. Andrew’s memory will always be treasured by his family.
A private cremation has taken place. For 49 days, prayers and puja will be performed in his honour at Ka-Nying Shedrub Ling monastery in Nepal. A celebration of Andrew’s full and varied life will be held this fall in Toronto. Please consider donations in Andrew’s honour to highparknaturecentre.com or to Sleeping Children Around the World (scaw.org).
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