Andrew in 2000

We mourn the loss of this young Phish fan, whose life touched so many. We extend our condolences to his family, who have asked that donations be made to the Mockingbird Foundation in his name. Meanwhile, Andrew’s girlfriend Sara De Francesco is working on a scrapbook to memorialize Andrew’s life and passing, and welcomes your contributions. Included below are Andrew’s obituary, contents contents of the program from his service, and excerpts from service readings…

Obituary from the Burlington Free Press:

Andrew in 2000SHELBURNE – Andrew Steele Briggs, 18, of Shelburne died Monday, Nov. 5, 2001, in Salem, Va., while doing what he loved most – following the music.

Andrew was a true original. His unique and witty personality drew to him a large circle of friends and admirers. His love of music was the cornerstone of his existence; he traveled widely and explored the world with a zest for life. His strong convictions and loyalty will be remembered by everyone who knew him. He will be greatly missed.

Andrew was born in Burlington on March 25, 1983, and grew up in Shelburne. He is survived by his mother, Joan Schillhammer Briggs of Shelburne; his father, James F. Briggs of Bridgeport; sister and brother-in-law, Elizabeth and Peter Rees and their children Benjamin Steele and Emma Catherine, of Charlotte, N.C.; brother, William R. Briggs of Winooski; his maternal grandparents, Richard and Irene Schillhammer of Burlington; many aunts, uncles, and cousins; and his beloved dog, Jinx, and cat, Stella. He was predeceased by his paternal grandparents, Gardner and Nancy Briggs of Burlington. He also leaves a tremendous circle of friends that spans the country, including his soul mate Sara DeFrancesco of Williston.

A special thank you to his uncles, Alan Schillhammer and Steven Briggs, for their continuous support.

Visiting hours will be Thursday, Nov. 8, from 6 to 9 p.m. at the Shelburne Funeral Chapel of Corbin and Palmer Funeral Home, 209 Falls Road, Shelburne. A memorial service will be held Saturday, Nov. 10, at 2 p.m. in the Charlotte Congregational Church, 403 Church Hill Road, Charlotte.

In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to Vermont Cares, 361 Pearl St., Burlington, in memory of Chris Reed, “The Pretzel Man” or The Mockingbird Foundation, Inc. (a non-profit organization of Phish fans to generate proceeds for charity focused in the area of music education for children).

Service Program

In Celebration of Andrew Steele Briggs

Andrew on GuitarPrelude
Opening Words – Pastor Will Burhans
Invocation – Pastor Will Burhans
Song: “Eyes of the World” * –   Grateful Dead
Readings: “Joanie” * – Elizabeth Briggs Rees
“Dirge without Music” * – Alfred Rosa
Scripture: Revelation 21 (selected verses) – Pastor Will Burhans
Pastoral Reflection – Pastor Will Burhans
Celebration Song – Colin Thompson
Remembrances of Friends & Relatives – Jim Stillman *, Steven Briggs *, Sara DeFrancesco, Lee Martin, Tricia Condon*, William Briggs, Jamie Stillman *
Closing Prayer – Pastor Will Burhans
Closing Song: “Amazing Grace” * – {the celebrants}
Litany of Remembrance
Benediction – Pastor Will Burhans
Postlude: “And We Bid You Goodnight” * & “Not Fade Away” * – Grateful Dead”

Excerpts from each of the Readings:
From “Eyes of the World”, by the Robert Hunter:

Sometimes we live no particular way but our own,
And sometimes we visit your country and live in your home.
Sometimes we ride on your horses, sometimes we walk alone.
Sometimes the songs that we hear are just songs of our own.

From “For Joanie”, by Edgar Guest:

We’ll shelter him with tenderness, we’ll love him while we may,
And for the happiness we’ve known forever grateful stay;
But shall the angels call for him much sooner than we’ve planned,
We’ll brave the bitter brief that comes and try to understand.

From “Dirge without Music”, by Edna St. Vincent Millay:

I am not resigned to the shutting away of loving hearts in the hard ground.
So it is, and so it will be, for so it has been, time out of mind;
Into the darkness they go, the wise and the lovely.
Crowned with lilites and laurel they go; but I am not resigned.

From “Poem for Andrew”, by Jim Stillman:

Tragedy has ended the wanderings of a young man who,
One might say, lived like a cat…
Approaching, then wandering off,
Wanting comfort, then slipping away
To follow the music, and find himself.

Words by (Uncle) Steve Briggs:

…He made you special because of the passion he brought to your relationship. His intelligence challenged your own, forcing insight. You loved being with him because he was outrageously fun. And you feared his sensitivity would hurt him more than he could bear.

…You can’t believe that a casual decision, probably an act of social graciousness more than one of self-indulgence, could have such disastrous consequences.

…You lost much of your future. But your future is unbounded. Your anger, guilt and grief will fade. But the funny stories will be told, his hijinx will be exaggerated, and he will be missed. He was such good company.

Words by Tricia Condon:

I can sense you beside me when I feel the earth
between my toes and see the sun’s first morning glow.
I remember that morning, you sat on a small rock not five feet away,
playing with your hair, and telling me life’s not always fair…. Briggsy, I can hear you say: “Let me pluck the flowers that blow,
and let me listen as I go
to music rare
that fills the air;
and let hereafter
songs of laughter
fill every pause along the way;
and to my spirit let me say;
those who have never known sorrow
can not know the infinite peace
that falls on the troubled spirit
when it sees at last release.

Remembrances by Jamie Stillman:

Precious, jovial, soft, cute little kitten. Always searching for the perfect back rub, the perfect note, the perfect jam, the perfect show, the perfect tour, The perfect Briggsy. He’s out there now in the perfect band, a symphony of souls playing the music of the gods, a divine eternal melody which permeates the universe. Now he will always play the perfect notes in the perfect jam in the perfect show in the greatest tour you could ever dream of.

I owe a lot to Andrew, he opened up my musical world, he brought me to my first Phish show, my second Phish show, and he brought me a lot of good times at many shows since then. I am eternally grateful for what I learned from, and loved about Andrew. He changed my world for the better, he helped shape me into who I am today. He brought me laughs and smiles, and tears I never knew that I had inside of me.

Just before I left for the west coast this fall, I had one last jam with Andrew, just him and me in my basement going through the regular repertoire of Phish songs, and I remember just being happy with him. He played better than I had ever heard him play, and he had this look on his face like there was no other place he would rather be. He was just happy, playing his song in his own peculiar way: The Beautiful Manner of Briggsy. I’m so glad that I was able to have that one last jam with him in this realm, now I just have to wait to catch up with him out there, and he’ll already be warmed up and ready to play into eternity.

From “Amazing Grace” (traditional):

Through many dangers, toils and snares
We have already come.
T’was Grace that brought us safe thus far…
and Grace will lead us home.

From “And We Bid You Goodnight”, by the Grateful Dead:

Lay down my dear brother, lay down and take your rest,
Won’t you lay your head upon savior’s chest
I love you all, but Jesus loves you the best
And we bid you goodnight, goodnight, goodnight

From “Not Fade Away“, by Buddy Holly:

My love is bigger than a Cadillac.
I try to show you but you drive me back.
Your love for me has got to be real;
You’re gonna know just how I feel.
Our love is real, not fade away.

Memorial Contributions

Andrew with SaraIn memory of his vigorous love of music and his affinity for Phish, Andrew Briggs’ family has asked that memorial contributions be made to the Mockingbird Foundation. Gifts will be deposited immediately for assistance in disbursements currently underway.

The Mockingbird Foundation is an all-volunteer grantmaking organization, and a 501(c)3 designated (tax-exempt) nonprofit public benefit corporation. We have no salaries, paid staff, office or debts, and donate all our net proceeds to music education for children. For information on past grantees, please see our funding summary.

Donations are acknowledged on our website, and contributors are immediately mailed a letter for tax purposes.

On behalf of Andrew’s family, the Mockingbird board is honored to have received donations to the Foundation is Andrew’s memory from:

  • Cheryl Eichen
  • Gary M. and Harriet R. Mace
  • Kristen Briggs
  • Katherine S. and Edward W. Van Woert
  • Stevenson and Lynda Waltien
  • Vermont Oxford Network Inc.
  • Jim and Lynn Stillman Jr.
  • Reverend Will Burhans
  • Bryan Shipman
  • Nancy Morse
  • James W. and Jill R. Coffrin
  • James B. Stillman Jr.
  • Joan S. Briggs
  • Elizabeth A. Rosa
  • The Goulette Family
  • John and Tricia Waldron
  • Zachary J. Nola
  • Suzanne Fay
  • Gordon and Karen Amidon
  • Arline F. and Rowland E. Peterson
  • Robet A. Denison
  • Frances Gluck
  • Elizabeth Rees
  • Janet C. Tilley
  • Stephen M. J. Carey
  • Fran, Michael, and Courtney Brennan
  • Lee, Rocky, and Curtis Martin
  • Allen, Marti, Jonathan, and Sarah Webster