By Almeda Girod
Irving “Andy” Andrusia, age 100, continues to have a paid position as a House Assistant at the Music Center at Strathmore.
“I even get sick time!” he declares. Andy continues to drive himself to the performances at which he works.
As a professional musician, Andy played string bass and electric guitar in a career that took him everywhere, from “strip clubs to the White House.”
Andy’s parents and three siblings immigrated to Northwest D.C. from Russia in 1917. Andy was born two years later. His father, a skilled cabinetmaker, prospered as the family moved upwards from Columbia Street to Missouri Avenue.
Andy joined a swing band, playing bass fiddle as a teen. His parents encouraged him to become an accountant, but after dropping out of three colleges he focused on a career in music, adding, “I was making good money.” He met his wife, Shirley, after moving to California where he played with the Horace Heidt band and worked in TV and movies as well as in live performances. When Shirley became pregnant, Andy sought a substantial job, returning to D.C., where he began a 25-year career as a logistics engineer at Vitro Corporation. Often, he worked night and day and recalls playing music until 3:00 a.m. and then waking at 7:00 a.m. for his day job.
Andy played with his band at every Presidential inauguration from FDR to Reagan. LBJ and Ford loved to dance to his band’s music at the State dinners. Andy is honored to have played at both of the Johnson daughters’ weddings.
Andy credits his long life to having loved and been loved by three amazing women: his first wife, Shirley, mother of his two sons, David and Matthew, and to whom he was married for 52 years; his second wife, Libby; and his third companion, Anne.