For famed East Toledo artist Bernie Andrews, being diagnosed with colon cancer
was a surprise. Finding out about it weeks after being admitted to St. Charles Hospital was even more shocking.
According to Lewie Andrews, Bernie’s father, his son was made aware of his condition just two days ago, after going through major surgery.
“In the last two days he has woken up and he is beginning to understand what people are saying to him,” Lewie said. “He did not know where he was or what had happened to him.”
According to Lewie, Bernie, 58, had visited a VA clinic in Ann Arbor three weeks ago with stomach issues. Doctors had told him that he was constipated and gave him medicine to deal with the discomfort. While with his parents, Bernie fell to the ground and 911 was called.
Bernie, as it turned out, had a tumor in his colon that ruptured, spilling toxins into his body.
“The doctors removed his colon and did a biopsy on the growth and said it was cancer,” Lewie explained. “He also had peritonitis. They put a tracheotomy in him. The doctors believe that they may have caught the cancer in time. We won’t know for sure for quite a while but they believe they got lucky and got it all.”
Bernie is now recovering and will be moved to a rehabilitation hospital in the next few days to start the long road back to recovery.
“He has lost a lot of weight and he needs to gain strength again,” Lewie said. “He is in good spirits. He can’t talk right now but he tells you things with his eyes.”
Bernie is the owner of Andrews Art Glass, now located on Woodville Rd., five miles from Genoa. The art studio was located in the Andrews River East Building in east Toledo for 15 years prior. The building was named for Lewie, who served as chairman of River East for several years.
Although his local claim to fame is his beautiful art glass, blown glass as well as his stone and metal sculptures, Bernie started out in another profession years ago.
“He went to culinary school at Owens Technical College and served an apprenticeship at Belmont Country Club,” Lewie said. “He was drafted during the Vietnam War as soon as he left school. Bernie went and joined the navy so he would not have to go into the army.”
Bernie served on the USS Providence, a guided missile light cruiser, as a cook during the war. The Providence was involved in a number of raids against the port of Haiphong and other areas in North Vietnam.
“I know Bernie was in Hanoi a couple of times,” Lewie said. “It was a rough trip. They were shot at all the way there.”
According to Lewie, his son was discharged after the war in San Diego where he went to school for an art degree.
“Bernie had a studio in San Diego California and he was there for 14 years,“ Lewie said.
According to Bernie’s website, River East Art Glass, Bernie worked with acclaimed artist and architect James Hubbell. One of the major projects that he assisted Hubbell with was The Palace Doors of Abu Dhabi.
Bernie returned to Toledo in 1987 where he opened Bernard Andrews Studios in the River East building.
“Since I was in the building, it made sense for Bernie to go in there,” Lewie explained. “It was a great place for small businesses to start. When the city closed the building, Bernie and the rest of the businesses had to move.”
Bernie’s artwork can be seen many places locally including two large stained glass and beveled windows for B’Nai-Israel Temple, a beveled window at The Toledo Hospital, the beveled and sand blast carved entry for the Oliver House at the Maumee Bay Brewing Company as well as a wall of honor for All Saints Church Rossford, Ohio. Bernie also created the first and second editions of the Eastern Maumee Bay Business Awards.
Bernie has been a member of VFW Post 2510, located on Second Street, in east Toledo, for many years. He currently is serving as commander of the post.
Robert “Rocky” Newbold, past commander, said Bernie took over the position
for a second time, in June.
“I have known Bernie for close to 10 years and I can say he has a heart of gold,“ Newbold said.
“Bernie is a guy that if you were in the hospital he always went and visited you. If you needed help moving, he helped. He was always willing to help out, doing stuff, building stuff. He believes that the VFW is much more than a bar. He believes in taking care of the older veterans.”
Newbold, who also served in Vietnam with the 101st Airborne Division and then again in Dessert Storm as a sergeant major in the National Guard’s 323rd Military Police Company, out of Toledo, said both he and Bernie have been serving as cooks at the VFW post for the popular Friday night dinners.
“Bernie and I do the cooking on Fridays and I really miss him in the kitchen,” Newbold said. “He is one of the reasons we have kept the place open the last 10 years. Without him we would have closed up.”
Because Bernie is such an important part of the post, members held a fish fry and silent auction to raise funds for his expenses.
According to Holly Gusky, secretary/receptionist for US Postal Union Branch 100, the fundraiser raised over $3,800 for Bernie.
“We ran out of fish,” Gusky said. “If Bernie only knew how many people cared about him he would be surprised.”
The VFW, located at 207 Second Street, in Toledo, is accepting donations for Bernie, Newbold said. Checks can be made out to VFW Post 2510 with a notation “for Bernie Andrews.”
“We will make sure his parents get the money,” Newbold said. “Bernie has done so much for others and we want to be there for him.”