Andrew’s Bench: A Fallser Love Story

Ever wonder about that bench on Kelly Drive, the one where you can see all East Falls’ bridges at once? Andrew O’Donnell’s bench has the best view — and an even better story that’ll warm your heart (just in time for Valentine’s Day). 

On Kelly Drive, where our railroad bridges converge with the Twins, you’ll find a modest bench facing out over a fantastic view of the river. A plaque on the bench reads, “In memory of Andrew P. O’Donnell, 1952 -2011 Love, ‘The Kid’ and Sidney O’Donnell.”

Once you hear about “Andy,” you’ll never pass by without recalling this big-hearted neighbor, still very much missed to this day.

Andrew O’Donnell was beloved Fallser who took amazing pictures of East Falls while walking his dog, Sidney (he called his wife, Dorothy, “The Kid”). His bench sits at his favorite spot on the river where he could see all of the bridges he loved so much to photograph.

He also took pictures of local festivals and events — you can still find some of his images on community websites.  He painted lovely pictures, as well, and when he was a young pup, he performed in a local band called “The East Siders” (a nod to East Falls”).

Andrew loved art, he loved dogs, he loved walking & taking pictures, he loved East Falls… all the best things in life, no doubt! He loved his friends and family, of course, and they all loved him back with a ferocity that echoes still in the comments we’ll get whenever we post a photo of his bench.

Sadly, he passed before my time in East Falls, but his legacy here’s so vibrant I feel I almost know him. At least, I  like to consider him a kindred spirit. I’m sure we’d have run into each other on the river, too: two camera jockeys searching for a sweet shot of the prettiest bridges around…

I never pass his bench without thinking of Andrew. Indeed, whenever I shoot nearby, I imagine him looking out through my lens at landmarks that haven’t changed in generations. And then I say a little prayer that no matter how big East Falls grows, we’ll always be the kind of place where neighbors cherish each other so.

Rest in peace, Andrew O’Donnell.

(Comments compiled from various posts/social media sources:)

Paula Holesworth Dougherty  He was local photographer as well. Doing what you do so well. You could find him in his days off. Miss him. He was an original.

Maryellen Burch  He is truly missed. He touched a lot of hearts. His pics were often in the Fallser, you two would’ve gotten along famously!

Carolyn Card Sutton Andrew was the absolute best, a talented man, a truly nice guy. He SO loved his dogs. My friend Shannon named her rescued Akita after Andrew; she and Andy can often be found walking along the river near Andrew’s bench.

Kathleen Fiedler  Andrew & Dorothy = one cool couple!

Laurie Hillanbrand Davis  He was also known to tell us kids very tall tales that we believed until he got that look that told you it was BS! I miss him so much! PS “The Kid” is my Aunt Dorothy. They taught me to love Mother Earth and helped form who I am!

Donna Robinson Amoroso  Uncle Andy, as I knew him, is the brother-in-law and uncle of the Hillanbrand crowd that lived on Calumet Street. No doubt he is there with you in spirit while you walk around the Falls!

Eleanor Kellie O’Donnell Landry  He took amazing pictures of East Falls. A lot of all the bridges in EF. One time I said he should publish a book of his photos. For my birthday the next year I got a binder with all his favorite shots. Something I will always treasure. (I’m his sister.)

Gina Snyder  Andrew was a wonderful man. He took great pictures of events and always shared them. Had some interesting stories, too!



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