Yale University

In Memoriam

Andy Guest

Andy Guest dies at 61

Delegate served 28 years

Richmond (VA) Times-Dispatch
April 3, 2001

Outdoor sportsmen and Virginia's horse-breeding community had a strong and steadfast friend in state Del. Raymond R. 'Andy' Guest Jr. The 61-year-old delegate, who retired in 1999, died Monday after a long battle with cancer.

During his 28 years representing Warren County at the General Assembly, the Republican Mr. Guest championed causes of pari-mutuel betting and of land and wildlife conservation.

"Andy devoted his adult life to public service," said Mr. Guest's wife, Mary Scott Guest. "He served his country, his state, his community and his family with honor, dignity and devotion."

He was "a steward of the environment," Gov. Jim Gilmore said, lauding the seven-term delegate for working "tirelessly to ensure conservation efforts remained a priority for the Commonwealth."

A banker and farmer by profession, Mr. Guest was a 1964 graduate of Yale University. He also served in the Marine Corps reserves and proudly sported a Marine Corps tattoo on his upper arm.

First elected the House of Delegates in 1971, Mr. Guest was the Republican floor leader from 1986 to 1991.

U.S. Sen. George Allen, who served with Mr. Guest in the House of Delegates called his former colleague a pioneer.

"He plowed the ground," said Allen. "He was a Republican when there weren't many Republicans."

Even as he faced down the then-overwhelming Democratic majority in Richmond, said Allen, "He wouldn't flinch from all the slings and arrows. He was one who loved the land and loved the people. He would stand like a stone wall for those principles."

One principle that made Mr. Guest so effective, speculated Alson H. Smith, was his ability to work with his Democrat peers.

"He was one of the most effective and respected members on both sides of the aisle," said Smith, a Democrat, who served the same region as Mr. Guest and who was a longtime friend. "There was no one in the Virginia legislature more effective at bringing [Republicans and Democrats] together."

Allen recalled that his first year as governor was also a pivotal year for Mr. Guest.

"The 1994 session was a physical and emotional roller coaster ride for the rugged outdoors-loving lawmaker. Cancer, first diagnosed years earlier in his lymph nodes, had returned. Without immediate treatment, doctors gave Mr. Guest little chance of long-term survival.

At the Medical College of Virginia Hospitals he underwent a grueling course of chemotherapy and a stem-cell transplant that left him weakened and vulnerable to infection.

Even from a hospital bed, Mr. Guest kept his mind on the assembly session across the street. He missed 35 days of the session but participated through absentee votes. He even sponsored four bills and a number of budget amendments.

His only complaint as he listened to the floor debates? "I can't holler back at 'em."

The real appeal of the session, Mr. Guest said, next to the privilege of serving his constituents, was that it never ceased to be "intellectually fascinating."

After completing treatment, Mr. Guest returned to the floor to an emotional show from his colleagues on both sides of the aisle.

He served as co-chairman of the Conservation and Natural Resources Committee during his final assembly session in 1999.

During that session Mr. Guest shocked his peers with a short, emotional retirement announcement from the floor of the House.

"I don't know how to say goodbye and I'm not going to," said Mr. Guest with tears in his eyes. Other members on both sides of the aisle cried openly.

Mr. Guest is perhaps best remembered for his support of the 1988 pari-mutuel betting bill that made possible the Colonial Downs horse track in New Kent and four pari-mutuel betting parlors elsewhere in the state.

The bill passed and was approved in a statewide referendum. Mr. Guest had sponsored similar legislation 10 years earlier.

Both the bill and the referendum faced stiff opposition from groups opposed to state-sanctioned gambling. Said Mr. Guest of his critics: "Perhaps I have more faith in the individual citizens of the commonwealth than those who feel they have to act on [citizens'] behalf to protect them from themselves."

This was Mr. Guest's hallmark, that he had little patience for "nanny government," Allen said. "He was common sense."

Mr. Guest is survived by his wife, Mary Scott Derrick Guest; a daughter, Mary Elizabeth Looney of Middleburg; two sons, Raymond R. Guest III of Bradenton, Fla., and William G. Yarborough III of Asheville, N.C.; three sisters, Elizabeth Guest Stevens of Washington, Virginia Guest Valentine of Richmond, Laetitia Guest Oppenheim of Paris; and a brother, Achille Murat Guest of Fredericksburg.

A funeral will be held on Wednesday at 11 a.m. at the Cunningham Chapel in Millwood, with burial following at the Old Chapel cemetery in Millwood.



by Chris Getman '64
read at our 40th Reunion
June 4, 2004

Andy Guest entered Yale in the Class of 1963, taking a year off to serve in the Marine Corps. He returned to graduate with our class.

Andy's life was devoted to conservation and the environment. A moderate Republican, he served in the Virginia legislature for twenty-six years, championing environmental issues and being instrumental in providing free medical coverage for underprivileged immigrants at the St. Luke's free medical clinic.

To the dismay of developers and expectant family members, he and his wife, Mary Scott Guest, put easements on Rock Hill Farm, which has about 3½ miles of riverfront, and bequeathed it to the State of Virginia.

Andy is the only person in history to have a national park named after him while still living. The R.R. "Andy" Guest National Park is on the south fork of the Shenandoah River.

Andy was diagnosed with non-Hodgkins lymphoma in 1996 and given six months to live. A player in college, he took up polo again, playing both in Virginia and Florida. A fighter all his life, he underwent a stem-cell transplant which he felt extended his life by five years. While he was in complete isolation in the hospital, the Virginia legislature set up a system which enabled him to witness the proceedings in the chamber and to vote. This is a strong testament to the kind of person he was.