In these days of social distancing and cancelled events of all sorts, we may not notice when a familiar face in the community is no longer around.
Such is the case with Andrew “Andy” R. Stillman, a 25-year resident of St. John who died Sept. 2 in Connecticut. He was 73.
“Andy and his wife Joy were a couple who loved St. John and always were interested in helping the community,” said Miles Stair, who became a friend through their shared activities with local organizations.
“Scholarships at Gifft Hill School, St. John School of the Arts or support for Sprauve School projects were just some of the ways they participated in island life. The Stillmans were regulars at fundraisers including the Animal Care Center and the St. John Cancer Fund,” he said.
Andy Stillman, who was known around the island as an athlete, was diagnosed in June with stage 4 non-smokers’ lung cancer.
“The diagnosis came as a shock,” said Joy. “He was so strong his body showed no symptoms. He had a great attitude and said he was going to fight it; he went down very quickly.”
Until they went to the States for the summer, Andy was regularly seen biking up the 1-mile long King Hill on the north shore of St. John. He participated in the St. John Road Race and 8 Tuff Miles every year but two – the first year it was held and the year he had knee surgery. In the summers he’d go on extensive hiking trips in Colorado and biking trips abroad.
Joy said she met Andy in a school cafeteria in Queens when they were teenagers. She became a special education teacher in the Bronx while he started his professional life as an attorney, representing mentally ill patients who were wrongfully institutionalized.
Stillman began trading securities as a hobby and soon made it his career. For the past 20 years, he worked as a day trader in partnership with Tropico Management from an office in Mongoose Junction.
His knowledge of law and business made him an asset to many community organizations. Stillman served for 20 years as a board member for the Friends of the Virgin Islands National Park.
“He was passionate about our work with kids on St. John, as well as our efforts to better tell the stories of St. John’s history and culture,” said Friends’ president Todd Sampsell. “Warm and friendly, he will be missed by many.”
Longtime resident Andy Rutnik got to know Stillman through their work with the Gifft Hill School, the Ruby Rutnik Scholarship Fund, and Friends of the Park.
“On an island like St. John, having the same name can be interesting,” said Rutnik. “In this case, it worked well for both of us – we could always blame the other for bad behavior and claim credit when things were complimentary.”
Andy Rutnik added, “He always led by his heart, enjoyed his life, family and friends and embraced St. John with love and caring. I will miss him, as will everyone who knew this man.”
In addition to his wife of 52 years, Stillman leaves behind their daughter Danielle, a rabbi at Middlebury College, her husband Matt Utterback and their children Leila and Yasmine; and daughter Juliet, of Crested Butte, Colorado, and her spouse Jeff Troyer.
“His loss is a huge loss to the Friends and the entire St. John community,” Sampsell said. “We are working with Andy’s wife, Joy, and at her pace to best decide how to celebrate and honor Andy’s and her commitment to Virgin Islands National Park and St. John.”