Sunday Spotlight

Andrew Wilson

Andy was born in Providence, RI; however, his hometown was Bristol, RI which is an old seaport from the 1600’s.  He grew up sailing in Bristol at a very young age, and taught sailing there as well.  He has lived in the New Orleans area for 40 years, but now he and his wife Karen recently moved to Old Mandeville, LA.  Andy went to Providence Country Day School (“PCD”), located in East Providence, RI.  PCD’s  motto was “Play the Game” or in Latin, “Lude Ludum,” and PCD truly meant it as no one was allowed to simply stand on the sidelines. Indeed, because it was a small student body, all students had to participate in sports every trimester/season. So at various points in time Andy was involved in football, soccer, wrestling, ice hockey, baseball, lacrosse and sailing. He was a 3-letter winner in Varsity soccer, ice hockey, and lacrosse his junior and senior years.

In 1977, Andy graduated from St. Lawrence University (Canton, NY) with a BA in History with a Russian Language minor.  In the summer of ‘77, he earned a Russian Language Certificate from the Pushkin Institute in Moscow/Leningrad/Kyiv.  In 1982, he earned his JD from the Tulane Law School; his concentration was in Admiralty/Maritime Law.  In 1983, he earned his LLM Master of Laws in Energy and Environmental Law from Tulane Law School.  Andy played lacrosse and ice hockey in college.  He was a goalie for his fraternity ice hockey league, and goalie for the Tulane Lacrosse Club during law school until New Orleans Lacrosse Club formed; he joined the NOLC as well.

Andy started playing lacrosse in 8th grade (1969), and beginning in his freshman year (1970).  He was a 4-year letter winner in Varsity lacrosse as starting goalie. He played with the Boston Lacrosse Club adult league in the summers to hone his skills. He was elected  PCD Co-Captain my Senior year (1973). They defeated their arch rival, Moses Brown School, in soccer, ice hockey, and lacrosse that year for the first time; he was on all three teams. At St. Lawrence University, he played goalie for 4 years. In addition to the NCAA scheduled games, Andy had incredible cross-cultural lacrosse experiences as he started for SLU against the Canadian Olympic Team in a Tournament in Tampa, FL.  He participated in scrimmages with the Mohawk tribe, a member of the Iroquois Nation Confederacy, as well as with the Oshawa Green Gaels box lacrosse team, due largely to the opportunities presented by the University’s close proximity to the Canadian border.  Also, they had wooden sticks made at the Native American Reservation on Cornwall Island, Ont. where they were schooled on the “Creator’s Game” as a matter of cultural heritage. (Andy still has his stick!)

After college, Andy played briefly with Westchester LC while he worked in NYC for 1 year as an asst. buyer for a large dept. store. (Hated it!) Then, he became a teacher at The Rectory Boarding School in Pomfret, CT, where he taught English and history and coached soccer, ice hockey and lacrosse. Subsequently, he moved to New Orleans and enrolled at Tulane Law School because it was the only maritime law school in the country at that time. He joined the Tulane Lacrosse team freshman (1L) year, but because of all the non-undergraduate players on the team a decision was made to form a new team, NOLC, for the next season. Then there were still too many adult players so we formed a second new team, New Orleans Sticks. In the meantime, Andy started running the Mardi Gras Lacrosse Tournament for 9 years and increased the participation from 4 teams and a “crease keg party” to 26 teams with off-site events and the involvement of top teams from Manchester, England, and Canada as well as the hot-beds of American lacrosse in Westchester, Long Island, Virginia and Maryland. After a hiatus of several years from lacrosse to coach kiddie soccer for my brood, he assisted in coaching his son’s lacrosse team at Christian Brothers School in New Orleans. Then he started officiating lacrosse with LOLA some 11 years ago.

Andy doesn’t officiate any other sport besides lacrosse; however, he officiated soccer, ice hockey and lacrosse while teaching/coaching at boarding school for 1 year.  Andy decided to officiate because he missed the game and the diversity of people associated with it. He found that lacrosse and sailing always involve a wide cross-section of participants on many levels: age, culturally, skills, etc., and one benefits from the experiences shared by staying involved with those sports.

Andy has raced large sailboats of all kinds including offshore in the Gulfport-Pensacola Race and elsewhere as well as the Lake Pontchartrain Racing Circuit. Additionally, he currently is a member of the Rhodes 19 (“R 19”) one-design Fleet #7  in New Orleans out of the Southern Yacht Club. They occasionally compete in the R 19 National Championship. Also, he is a member of the Board of Orleans Audubon Society and serves as the Conservation Chair to provide legal advice on wildlife issues. In addition, he actively participates in “birding “ events. Lastly, he is an avid historian visiting and studying various Colonial, Revolutionary war, Civil War, European historical landmark, and “American West” sites (Think Tombstone! ) as well as assorted  Indigenous Peoples’ sites throughout the country.

When Andy was running the Mardi Gras Tournament, he thought it would be funny to add a fake promotional line in the Tournament fliers that the Tournament would offer “complimentary bail bonds, “ thinking this would be perceived as a joke if not beyond the Pale. Late on a Saturday night during the Tournament, he received a call from a representative of the Pensacola Team which consisted largely of Navy and Marine officers, some of whom had attended the Academy, that many of them had been arrested for tossing all the hotel room furniture from the hotel they had set up out of their rooms to Canal Street below. The representative indicated that they wished to pursue the bail bond offer. Fortunately, before they were called to task, their Commanding Officer scheduled a “Captain’s Mast” or disciplinary hearing so this trumped any local proceedings and they were off the hook. Lesson learned….Presently, Andy is a Partner/Attorney with Milling Benson Woodward, LLP, Mandeville, LA, still as always concentrating in admiralty, maritime, environmental and insurance coverage matters as he has for nearly 38 years. During his career, he handled all sorts of litigation, much of which arose from ship collisions, dock allisions, cargo damage, groundings, sinkings, personal injuries and deaths, general average, pollution spills, accidental air releases, class actions,  remediation of oilfield contamination, underwater and land-based pipeline ruptures, a 2000′ television tower collapse, charter party disputes, tugs/towage negligence, commercial disputes, and most importantly, oyster lease litigation. On the latter, he successfully defended the State for 15 years from claims for $2 billion in supposed damages to oyster leases allegedly caused by freshwater diversion coastal restoration projects, establishing new law in the process. During the litigation he moved to recuse the presiding Judge in one case because he was clearly “involved in the process” as they say, and as a result Andy was sanctioned, held in contempt, thrown out of court, placed under “house arrest,” and forced to take the witness stand and plead the Fifth Amendment to protect my State clients. He had to call the Governor’s office for help ! Still, he  had his reckoning as the litigation eventually went to the Louisiana Supreme Court where the claims were dismissed in their entirety and the Judges punished for bad behavior toward him. Eventually the same Judges went to jail on other charges. (Yes, book in progress: “Oyster Rockefellas“)

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