Obituary: Andrea Dickson Wells
Andrea Dickson Wells, a long time resident of New Canaan, died after a brief, hard fight with cancer in Stamford Hospital on Saturday, November 30, surrounded by her loving family. Andrea, 67, was the beloved wife of Stephen Brent Wells.
Born on January 15, 1946 in Yonkers, NY to the late Isabelle Cornell Dickson and William Andrew Dickson, Jr., she first attended Yonkers public schools during which time she was, among other things, Yonkers' City girl's free throw-basketball champion (18 for 20 at the line.) She later graduated from the Masters School in Dobbs Ferry, NY, Bennett College and received a Bachelor of Science from Columbia University.
Known for her keen sense of humor and delightful irreverence, Andrea was devoted to her family, especially her 3 children and 9 grandchildren -- the lights of her life -- her dogs, her ever-expanding gardens and her many, devoted friends. She was a superb horticulturist who seemed happiest on her knees digging in the earth with her three Labrador retrievers at her side.
Her perennial and shade gardens were her laboratory for new ideas as she experimented with unusual and rare plants. Andrea’s knowledge of horticulture, which she would always self-deprecatingly deny, and her engaging wit made the New Canaan Garden Club’s “Garden Chats” which she co-chaired a popular workshop. Among her many awards, the New Canaan Garden Club awarded her the Julie Dent Rose Bowl, an acknowledgment of her skill as a rosarian. She also received the Club’s coveted President’s Award for the restoration and rejuvenation of New Canaan’s Waveny Walled Garden, a documented public garden of the United States Garden Conservancy. This award reflected her passion and commitment to this New Canaan garden treasure that affords beauty and solitude to all visitors.
In a book published by the New Canaan Garden Club, The Spirit of Gardens, Andrea wrote, “As the seasons change and the years pass, you watch both your children and plants withstand harsh weather and tough conditions. And yet they still bloom and mature into adulthood. This is the reward…Not to mention the seedlings!” This statement is a fitting epitaph for her.
Andrea was a superb, loving, and nurturing parent and grandparent who was completely devoted to her 9 grandchildren, ages 1-13, and even turned her basement into a play area suitable for all ages. She adored taking them to lunch, to the theatre, to the playground and always attended their never-ending array of sports and school events. Andrea was happiest when she was enjoying them. By far her most favorite times were family gatherings. Christmas was a special time of year for her, and family vacations brought her extraordinary joy. She loved watching each grandchild grow and flourish and never wanted to miss a minute of it!
Andrea was a charter member of the Hit and Giggle Girls (the “HAGGS”) with whom she played tennis every Friday for 26 years. Andrea was never bothered that their tennis skills never seemed to improve in 26 years. As she frequently reminded her fellow HAGGS, Fridays were not just about tennis, but cheaper and more fun than therapy. Even the HAGGS’ tennis pros who vainly tried to teach them tennis understood that “she was a special person who always had a smile and light banter to share.”
Andrea was a loyal and devoted friend. She brought joy and laughter to all who knew her. Her common sense approach to life kept her family and friends alike on an even keel. She had a marvelous way of making all of us all better people, and we always were happier after talking with her. She was a gifted communicator, giving her friends guidance and encouragement in a humorous and yet, unassuming manner. Her list of attributes is a long one. Gardening, cooking, decorating, reading, care giving to her precious little ones and furry big ones were always done with extraordinary care, detailed planning and thoughtfulness. Her home always exuded warmth, beauty and vitality. Whether playing tennis with the HAGGS or having lunch with the ‘Lobos Ladies’ or just being with friends, she was always herself, without airs or affectation. Despite her unassuming nature, she had a great presence in so many lives in ways that now that she is gone we are just beginning to truly appreciate. We are all blessed to have known her and to have had our lives touched by her.
Andrea was also involved in other charitable work including succeeding her wonderful mother, Isabelle, the first Grammy, by serving several terms on the Board of the Julia Dykeman Andrus Memorial Home for Children in Yonkers.
In addition to Stephen, her husband of 37 years, Andrea (also known by family and friends as Andi ) is survived by her children, Christopher Coyle and his wife Lelei of Wilton, CT, Amanda Smith and her husband Brian of Darien, CT, and Peter Wells and his wife Sarah of Rye, NY as well as her nine adored and adoring grandchildren: Jackson(13), Walker(11), and Brooks(6) Coyle, Isabelle(11), Sophie(8), Cabot(8), and Finley(4) Smith and Baker(5) and Sawyer(1) Wells.
Andrea is also survived by her older brothers, Paul Dickson and his wife Nancy of Garrett Park, MD and Peter Dickson of Rye, NY and her nephews Andrew, Alexander and John Dickson.
A memorial service of celebration will be held on Friday, December 6th at 1pm at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church in Darien, CT followed by a reception at the Country Club of Darien. In lieu of flowers, contributions in Andrea’s memory can be made to St. Mary’s Healthcare System for Children, the ASPCA or to a charity of your choice in memory of Andrea. For online condolences and directions please visit www.hoytfuneralhome.com