Doris G. Andrews is a quiet woman. She lets her work do most of the speaking.
She is the First Lady of Calvary Baptist Church, the oldest Black church in the state of Washington, and her congregation appreciates and loves her not just because she’s married to the Rev. Chester Willis “C.W.” Andrews, but because she is the epitome of strength, calm and support of her community.
Born in 1942, she was raised in New Orleans until the age of 5, when her family moved to Yakima during the Great Migration, a 54-year period when more than 6 million African Americans moved out of the South for better opportunities. Regardless of location, Andrews has been involved in the church all her life.
This is where she met her husband in 1959. Andrews was working as a Sunday school secretary while Chester was in a singing quartet with her father.
“Most folks went home to play hopscotch, get on the phone and whatnot and do whatever, but once we met her at the church, we started staying more,” Chester Andrews said.
They’ve been married for 62 years. Andrews supported her husband especially after they moved to Spokane in 1971. He became the reverend of Calvary Baptist Church in 1974.
“She always believed in the church growing,” he said. “So loving, caring and concerned. She made sure the church was prospering. She made sure we were always on the (uptick) and I can appreciate that. It helps set examples for men and women.”
By then, they would have their five children, Chester Jr., Darryl, Kenny, Dana, and Lyn.
For Chester Andrews, his wife represents what many in the church world refer to as a “Proverbs 31 woman” – a woman that is “worth far more than rubies,” a woman who brings her husband “good, not harm, all the days of her life.”
“I made a commitment to God when the preacher said do you take this woman to be your wedded wife,” he said. “She has been my partner and she has been remarkable.”
In the home, he sees her mothering skills embodying the scripture of Proverbs 22:6, “Train up a child in the way he should go: And when he is old, he will not depart from it.”
Her children recall their mother as a “woman of strength, determination, courage.” During their upbringing, she was a caring mother, using the “sandwich method” to ease her children’s hearts with critique in the middle but compliments at the beginning and end. She was also a firm parent, able to shoot out the “look” from afar. The kids got right instantly.
Rather it be Andrews’ lifelong advice of “live the life you preach about” or running an adult family home for the church beyond the responsibilities at her own home, the Andrews children praised their mother as a woman who wears her many hats in motherhood.
“We never went hungry or unclothed when we were kids,” said Kenny Andrews. “We would go to 2 Swabbies and didn’t pick what we wanted but Mama showed us what we got and that’s what we had. We appreciated it and we loved it.”
He added: “She was a good (mother) because she trained us from when we were children. I can be all alone because I can iron, cook, clean and wash my clothes. I can fold fitted sheets, so they can look like they came out of the store package. Her and Daddy developed their five children to prepare for life.”
After watching his mother and other Calvary Baptist members successfully open the church’s Soup Kitchen 10 years ago, Kenny opened up his own restaurant, the Edgewater Lounge on Diamond Lake. He serves “down home” New Orleans recipes, dishes his mother whipped up throughout his childhood. The restaurant, he says, pays homage to Andrew’s undying service to her community and her humble beginnings, two prominent factors of her well-loved spirit.
For Lyn Andrews, the youngest, her mother is an aspiring beacon of Black womanhood, and she recalled Andrew’s individuality and “refusal to conform and still succeed.”
“There’s no half-steppin’ on programs or fundraisers; she’s all in,” Lyn Andrews said. “She comes from a social service background in the community health and school and college system. She’s taken programs that were nothing and made them top programs at the college level. It’s an honor to talk about my mother because she’s so endearing to me. At times, I feel like I’m down or defeated, I look at my mom because she’s overcome so much, she’s a lady because she’s the true definition of lady.”
Outside of the home and church, Andrews worked at Spokane Falls Community College in education and summer programs for 20 years. She has also worked in fruit canneries where, according to Kenny Andrews, she brought home “the best fruit you’ve ever had in your life.”
Doris Andrews’ impact permeates the city of Spokane by touching the hearts of those she’s around. Glenn Vaughn, a marriage therapist and Calvary Baptist Church member, said his heart “swells with joy” around Andrews, who “radiates love and is very accepting.” Vaughn, who nominated her for Women of the Year, has come to know Andrews through her post-service fellowship and personal interactions like Frankie Doodle lunches after church.
“I think that it is deeply humbling to be around her,” Vaughn said. “I feel like I’m around my role model. I would love to be as loving and forgiving as she is. I notice how all of her children revere her and she has a wonderful relationship with her husband.”
At nearly 80, First Lady Andrews has and is still creating the life well lived, rooted in Christ, family and love. The quiet woman did not have to speak to her accomplishments or character, the actions and legacy spoke for her.
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