Born in Amarillo, Texas, Oct. 11, 1953, Andrea was raised in southeastern New Mexico. She received a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Young Harris College in Georgia, then paralegal certification from George Washington University in Washington, D.C. She worked for some years as a paralegal while she pursued her lifelong love of music, returning to school to earn a bachelor’s degree in music from Columbus State University in Columbus, Ga. Then, following another keen interest, she earned her master’s degree in counseling at Columbus State.
Eager to use her new skills to help people, Andrea moved to Haleyville to work for the Northwest Alabama Mental Health Center. She worked there and at the Bradford Health Service for almost 20 years. Her work as a mental health counselor and as a substance abuse counselor was enriching and fulfilling, and she was recognized by many as an effective and compassionate therapist.
Andrea was a long-time member of St. Mary’s and a dedicated Episcopalian since finding, even before moving to Haleyville, her natural connection with the church’s people and liturgy. She was the head of the Altar Guild at St. Mary’s. The National Episcopal Cursillo brought her joy and a new sense of spiritual commitment, connection and service. Andrea was a Lay Eucharist Leader of the Cursillo group at St. Mary’s for over 10 years.
It was through the church that she met the love of her life, Louis Quinn Perkins. They were married at St. Mary’s, May 18, 2002. Andrea and Louis believed that God brought them together as if they were one person in two bodies. They laughed and loved every day.
Together with Louis, Andrea explored her love of all things beautiful and of travel. They drove regularly to Birmingham to attend Alabama Symphony concerts and the ballet and would spend hours at bookstores. They traveled often to the beach to visit friends in Georgia and to explore different interesting places in the South. Almost every year they traveled to visit Andrea’s sisters and their families in Washington, D.C., where Andrea also enjoyed visiting museums and going to concerts. A few years ago they started taking annual trips to New York City to celebrate their wedding anniversary, where they would visit museums and see Broadway shows. She loved to take in the sights, especially enjoying historic church architecture. They took annual trips to California to visit Andrea’s aunt and celebrate the Fourth of July with her.
As a committed music lover, Andrea started piano lessons as a young child and continued them throughout the rest of her life. She loved to spend hours playing the piano, learning complex classical works, playing for her own pleasure and performing for others. By performing her own piano recitals, she shared her favorite music with others and stretched herself with new challenges.
Andrea cherished the family that came to her through Louis — his sister, children, grandchildren and nephew — they were her family as well. She and Louis also loved spoiling their family of cats. Andrea treasured flowers, planting spring bulbs around her house and filling her home with cut flowers given to her by Louis. Her extensive stuffed animal collection, especially teddy bears, filled a certain chair and couch in her house. She was crazy about Alabama football, with lots of TV-watching to follow the games and jokes with other “football crazies.”
Andrea was preceded in death by her parents: mother, Ferinez Brininstool Phelps and father, Elson Ray Phelps. She is survived by her beloved husband, Louis Quinn Perkins and two sisters, Claudia and Robbin, both of Washington, D.C. The rest of her Washington, D.C., family are her brothers-in-law, Ted Baird and Bruce Jones; and nephew, Matthew Bruce Jones. On her husband’s side, she is survived by stepchildren, Shawn Perkins (Amber) of Oakman and Amanda Muth (Anthony) of Union Chapel; stepgrandchildren, Zack and Tristan; sister-in-law, Karen Perkins of Birmingham; stepnephew, Josh Blackwell (Christy) of Birmingham; and stepgreat-niece, Whitten. She leaves behind many friends, colleagues and loved ones.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests please make donations to the Alabama Symphony Orchestra, 1200 10th Avenue South, Birmingham, 35294.
Nichols Funeral Home, Haleyville; 205-486-2204