“What do we do?” the panicked funeral director whispered in my ear as I sat on the platform of a packed Crossings Community Church in Oklahoma City. “Brenda and the two children aren’t here, and we’re already fifteen minutes past the start time,”
“Start the service anyway,” I responded. “Brenda’s not coming.”
The funeral director challenged me. “I spoke with her on the phone thirty minutes ago. She said that she and the kids were on their way.”
“No.” I said, “She’s not coming. Brenda murdered her husband. She’s on the run.”
The funeral director stood up, gave me a lingering look of shock, and left the platform to begin the service.
The Murder of Rob Andrew
On Tuesday, November 21, 2001, two days before Thanksgiving, 39-year-old advertising executive Rob Andrew drove to his estranged wife’s house, Brenda Andrew, in northwest Oklahoma City.
He went to pick up their two young children. Rob intended for his kids to spend the long holiday weekend in Enid with him at his parents’ house.
As was Rob’s custom, he walked through the open garage to knock on an interior door that led into the house.
As Rob knocked on the door, someone shot and killed him with a 16-gauge shotgun.
“I’ve been shot,” Brenda told the 911 operator. “My husband and I, we’ve been shot.”
Police rushed to the scene to find Rob on the floor, lying on his back with gunshot wounds in his torso and near his neck. Brenda had been shot in the arm.
She told authorities the couple had been attacked by home intruders wearing black masks.
Meeting with Brenda Andrew
On the Friday after Thanksgiving, I drove to Oklahoma City to meet with Brenda Andrew to discuss funeral arrangements for Rob’s service.
I worked during the 1980s and early 1990s as the Tulsa Police Chaplain. Officiating funerals for murder victims had been part of my duties.
Rob’s parents and siblings were members of my church in Enid, Oklahoma. Rob’s father and mother asked me to officiate their son’s funeral.
I knew the police were still looking for the murderer that Friday evening.
Though suspicion is on the surviving spouse of any murder victim, the fact that Brenda had been shot caused the media and police to focus on others unknown. Brenda’s wound, however, was superficial.
After I left Brenda Andrew’s home that night, I called the Oklahoma City police headquarters. I asked to speak to the detective in charge of Rob Andrew’s murder investigation.
The detective was not in, so the receptionist transferred me to his voicemail. I left a message.
“You might want to put a tail on Brenda. If she’s not the shooter, she’s at least complicit in her husband’s murder.”
I would later be told that a police tail had been placed on Brenda. She escaped the tail on the day of Rob’s funeral.
On February 28, 2002, after three months on the run, Brenda Andrew and her boyfriend James Pavatt, were arrested at the Mexico border for the murder of Rob Andrew.
Brenda Andrew’s Murder Trial
While married to Rob Andrew, Brenda was a Sunday School teacher at North Pointe Baptist Church, Oklahoma City.
It was at church that Brenda met her newest boyfriend, James Pavatt.
Brenda claimed to be a Christian. So did James.
Court testimony about Brenda’s secret life of sexual affairs with multiple men, her addictive behaviors, and the general apathy she displayed toward being the wife of Rob Andrews filled the papers covering the trial.
Those who only knew the public persona presented by Brenda had a hard time believing the testimony.
Sometimes it’s hard to tell a counterfeit Christian from the real thing.
Prosecutors subpoenaed me to testify at Brenda’s trial.
Jurors Thursday also heard from Wade Burleson, the pastor who presided over Rob Andrew’s funeral. Burleson said he met with Brenda Andrew a few days before the funeral to plan the service and that he found her demeanor to be cold, flat and unemotional.
“I want to help the people who grieve at the funeral service to understand the person who has died,” Burleson said. “I have a standard question that I always ask. ‘Would you tell me what it is that you will miss about your loved one?'”
“Did she respond?” Assistant District Attorney Gayland Gieger asked.
“She did not say anything to me, she stared at me,” Burleson said. “I thought she didn’t understand the question, so I asked it again. Again she said nothing. So I prompted her. I said, ‘Is there a character quality, is there a story to help me relate to others your love for Rob?’ And then she said one word,” Burleson said.
“What was that?” Gieger asked.
“‘Nothing,'” Burleson said.
Burleson testified that Brenda Andrew and her children did not attend the funeral.
Just a few days after I testified in the months-long trial, the jury reached its verdict. On Thursday, July 15, 2002, twelve peers of Brenda Andrew convicted her of murdering Rob Andrew
Two months later, on September 22, 2004, the court sentenced Brenda to death for capital murder.
Today, Brenda Andrew remains the only woman on Death Row in Oklahoma.
While an execution date has not been set for Brenda, her boyfriend, James Pavatt, is scheduled to die on July 11, 2024.
I am hopeful, by God’s grace, Brenda and James exchange their quarters for dollars before their death.
Lou Andrew, the Mother of Rob
Rob’s two children were raised by Rob’s parents, E.R. and Lou Andrew.
E.R. and Lou have been friends of mine for over three decades. They’re humble, kind, generous Christians.
E.R. and Lou Andrew are the real deal.
E.R. and Lou gave it all they had late in their lives to ensure that Rob’s two kids were raised in a loving, Christian home. Lou loved and raised Rob’s kids like she had Rob and his three brothers.
Lou Andrew, Rob’s mom, died this week of a heart attack at the age of eighty-six.
I’ll officiate Lou’s service on Monday, just like I officiated her son’s service nearly a quarter of a century ago.
Last month, E.R. Andrew went to Israel on a trip that my wife (Rachelle) and I led. Lou Andrew didn’t go because travel is difficult for her due to recent health issues. But she badly wanted her best friend to go to Israel, even if it meant her husband had to go without her.
As I sat with E.R. yesterday to discuss the plans for the funeral and his thoughts about the woman to whom he’d been married for almost seven decades, I couldn’t help but think of the contrasts between the two Andrew funerals.
E.R. wept as he described his wife to me. “Wade, Lou wasn’t just my lover. She was my best friend.”
I encouraged E.R. with the truth that those who love Christ are guaranteed a resurrection to immortal life, and just like Jesus walked out of His tomb two thousand years ago, so too, his best friend, he, and all true followers of Jesus will be raised to life from the dead.
As I was leaving his home, E.R. handed me a piece of paper and said, “A friend of Rob’s wrote this after my son was murdered. I’d like for you to read it.”
To all those who’ve taken the time to read my article so far, please finish.
You’ll never again wonder about the difference between counterfeit and genuine Christianity.
A Lesson I Learned from the Susan B. Anthony Dollar and the Life of Rob Andrew
By Paul Sublett
Rob Andrew was a friend of mine. I met him accidentally, mostly because we worked in related businesses. Rob was an advertising executive, and I worked in Radio. Initially, we met to discuss ways for me to get my foot in the door at Jordan and Associates, the company Rob worked for. We met in the mid-1980s.
A friendship developed that stretched beyond our work. Early on, I helped Rob remodel his kitchen in a house he owned in The Village. Later, both his children spent their early years in a baby bed that I had bought “used” and refinished for my youngest daughter. We had no further use of it, and Rob and his wife were looking for a place to put their firstborn…. and then their second born.
We met for lunch for several months, maybe a couple of years before Rob met the end of his life on this earth. (That was how we usually met. He tried to take me to restaurants I had never visited, some of which have become my favorites).
On this particular day, Rob was excited. He had a story he wanted to tell.
I knew he was a Christian because we had covered that ground early on. But I also knew he lived on that ragged edge. He liked to “party.”
On this day, Rob wanted me to know that things were different. He held up a “Susan B. Anthony” silver dollar and asked, “Do you know the story of the Susan B. Anthony dollar”? I replied, “Of course, I’ve seen them, and many have passed through my hands.”
“No, no! That’s not what I mean,” he said. “Do you know why they stopped making them?”
“Well,… no, not really, but I’m sure you’re about to tell me.”
Rob continued. “Look at this one.” He held it in full view, then he reached in his pocket and pulled out a quarter. “See…see how closely the quarter and the dollar are in size and appearance?”
I examined them with astonishment. “Yeah! They are pretty close.”
He explained further, “People were always confusing them for quarters. They were often passed in change as quarters.”
I scratched my chin and looked at him with an expression that said, ‘I suppose there is a point to this earth-shattering revelation?’
He continued, ‘’They were discontinued because they were too much alike, and people were giving up dollars for quarters.”
Then the real reason for Rob’s conversation with me was revealed.
“I was a Susan B Anthony dollar,” he said. “People wanted me to attend parties because I always brought the party to life. I told the jokes and brought the liquor, and to everyone at the party, I was one of the gang.”
Now the look on Rob’s face grew grave, and tears formed in his eyes. “When I heard the Susan B. Anthony Dollar story and why it was canceled, I knew it was me. I’m the dollar that was mistaken for a quarter.” Now with tears on his cheeks, “I knew Christ, but no one who knew me would ever have guessed it.”
Then his face began to glow … “I got a roll of Susan B. Anthony Dollars and went to every person in my office. I placed one on their desk and told them the same story I told you. Then, I asked for their forgiveness. I was a Christian in their midst, and they had no clue because I was acting like I didn’t know Christ.”
Rob was a changed man. Rob showed me his daily journal at my last meeting with him before his death. In it, he recorded his time in the Word, lessons he learned, and prayer requests. He was no longer on the edge, looking like a quarter, but now fully engaged in living the life of a true, distinct dollar.
That was how my friend Rob left this world and how I will always remember him.
Lesson learned! How about you?
Are you the real thing?
Something to think about.