Dr. Mason Andrews’ life may best be described by the political slogan he used in the 1974 Norfolk (Va.) City Council race: “Mason Andrews delivers.”
The son of a Norfolk obstetrician, Andrews earned a bachelor’s degree from Princeton University in 1940 and attended the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. After completing a tour of duty in the Navy, he went back to Johns Hopkins to finish his residency.
Andrews returned to Norfolk in 1950 to open his own OB/GYN office and launch the first answering service for doctors in the area. In the 1960s, he helped raise $17 million to finance a community medical school (which would eventually become Eastern Virginia Medical School). From 1974 to 1990, Andrews served as the first chair of the school’s Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology. In 1992, he was elected president of the American Gynecological and Obstetrical Society.
Andrews delivered approximately 5,000 babies during the course of his half-century in medicine. But his most famous delivery occurred on Dec. 28, 1981, when he helped bring Elizabeth Jordan Carr into the world. At 5 pounds, 12 ounces, Carr was the first U.S. baby conceived by in-vitro fertilization. Now a newspaper reporter in Augusta, Maine, Elizabeth said Andrews always kept in touch with her, sending cards on her birthday and a gift for her wedding.
In the process of establishing an in-vitro fertilization program at Eastern Virginia Medical School, Andrews persuaded Drs. Georgeanna and Howard Jones to become teachers. The couple had planned to retire from medicine, but at Andrews’ urging, decided to build the Jones Institute for Reproductive Medicine instead. The program is now a leader in scientific advances of infertility treatment.
Andrews’ dedication to public service extended beyond medicine and education. He spent 26 years on the Norfolk City Council, including a two-year term as mayor, and was known for his dedication to the downtown area’s renaissance. Over the course of his political tenure, Andrews helped transform the waterfront area into a bustling retail and entertainment destination. Port Folio Weekly magazine listed him at #84 in its annual collection of “100 Best People, Places and Things in the 7 Cities” for his work as a doctor, councilman and civic activist.
“He was constantly pushing us as a community to realize and reach our potential. Nothing but the best for Norfolk. He had a high standard of excellence. He was tenacious in everything that he did. I don’t know how you remember him in any other way. His legacy was to instill in all of us reaching for the stars in terms of what’s best for the community,” Cathy Coleman, president of the Downtown Norfolk Council, said.
Andrews died on Oct. 13. Cause of death was not released. He was 87.