Numerous communities in Southwest Colorado lost a dear friend and iconic figure when Andrew Thomas Janowsky passed away unexpectedly at Penrose Hospital in Colorado Springs on February 10, 2021 at the age of 60. "Andy" as he was known to all, was a "mountain of a man" with a variety of talents and interests that included singing, songwriting, mountain biking, weight lifting, fly fishing, and enjoying nature, whether in his backyard home outside of Durango or on the roads and trails of the San Juans, Sangre de Cristos and throughout the Southwest and Wyoming.
The word "iconic" may be overused in today's language, but it fits the personality, accomplishments, and scope of Andy's influence perfectly. He was recognized by dozens and dozens of people throughout his home communities of Durango, Pagosa Springs, and the San Luis Valley.
His heart for people was as big as the territory he roamed, on foot, on his mountain bike, or in his truck, often with the High Rollers band equipment in tow with the words, "Caution, contains country music" painted on the side. That was Andy.
Born in Buffalo, New York on June 4, 1960, he was the third of Rev. Phil and Mary Jo Janowsky's four children. He was a born entertainer, and as soon as he could talk, he was showing off and trying to make people laugh. In a way, he was always on stage and whoever was listening was his audience.
Andy embraced the family faith and began singing in church at an early age. He later honored his childhood memories in western Kansas on "Rural Route Religion," an album of traditional hymns, and in original songs, he wrote reflecting on his love of the culture he grew up in. He loved the farm community of his childhood and early adolescence.
The family moved to Colorado Springs in 1976 where Andy excelled in athletics, made a little mischief, and graduated from Fountain Ft. Carson High School in 1978. He then attended Fort Lewis College and graduated in 1982 with a degree in accounting.
Accounting didn't suit his personality, and his interest in performing musically was growing. It wasn't long before he tested the waters of performing on stage, playing bass, and singing with a popular Durango band known as "Highway Robbery" for the next three years.
It was during this time that he met his future wife, Linda Brumley. They were married on February 17, 1985 in the Sargent Community Church, where Andy's father was then pastor. Sargent turned out to be the very church Andy himself was pastoring at the time of his untimely illness. Andy's marriage was the joy of his life, and his love for Linda is reflected in numerous songs he wrote.
Between the years of 1985-1999, Andy served the city of Durango as a member of the Durango Police Department, a role that suited him well and one he enjoyed fully. The traditional motto of policemen everywhere, "protect and serve," was something that Andy took immense pride in, as he took pride in the camaraderie of the men he served with. Throughout his life, in uniform or out, the role of protector was part of Andy's character.
Perhaps Andy's best-known role was as the face of the High Rollers, a band that had small beginnings in 1995 and steadily grew their following. At their peak, the High Rollers enjoyed playing large Festivals across western United States, France, and Spain. Always dear to his heart were the large local outdoor events where often there was a charitable component: The City of Durango's Fourth of July Street Dance, the La Plata County Fair, Fiesta Days, the Archuleta County Fair, and a large outdoor concert each July in Pagosa Springs to raise money for the Pagosa wrestling Club. Events like these were on the local annual calendars and were eagerly anticipated by the large crowds
Published in The Durango Herald on Feb. 22, 2021.