Later today we’ll be attending a wake for Paul Andrews, the retired superintendent of schools in Woburn, who died last Saturday at 84. Paul led a remarkably long and productive life. I didn’t even know about his service as chair of the board of directors at Winchester Hospital until I read this obituary. I got to know him when I was covering the Woburn Public Schools for The Daily Times Chronicle in the 1980s. At the same time, Paul’s children, Paul, Kevin and Marcia (and occasionally Paul himself), were taking photos for the paper.
I want to share one anecdote that shows Paul’s dedication to doing things the right way. I was covering the Woburn School Committee one evening when the committee voted to go into executive session. I don’t remember the reason; it probably had something to do with contract negotiations with the teachers union. The chair announced that the committee would not be returning to open session, which meant that members of the public — including me — were free to leave.
The next morning, Paul gave me a call to let me know that the committee had, in fact, returned to open session late that night and taken a vote. Of course, there was no one there to witness it. As superintendent, he was the committee’s secretary, so he told me the details of the motion and the vote so I could make some calls and write it up for that afternoon’s paper.
Later on, he told me that several committee members were peeved with him for giving me a head’s-up, and that he had to explain they had violated the open meeting law by returning to public session after announcing they would not do that. He took the hit for their illegal action — something that any reporter who’s dealt with local officials who either don’t understand or don’t respect the public’s right to know can appreciate.
Paul will be greatly missed, and I offer my condolences to his family and friends.