Andrew M. Wadsworth, of Milwaukee, passed away peacefully on February 10, 2023, after a valiant battle with cancer. He spent his final days surrounded by friends and family. Grateful for his good fortune, Andrew often remarked, “I wake up every day realizing people wish they had my problems.” Even as he realized that his tremendous run was coming to an end, he reflected on meeting his great love, amazing travels, wonderful family and friendships, passion for his work, and the incredibly fortunate life he enjoyed for more than 57 years.
Born in Milwaukee in 1965 to Dick and Lois Gaertner, Andrew was the youngest of 7 and always felt lucky to have been born with all of his toes and fingers. He grew up on the northwest side, graduated from Dominican High School, and earned degrees from the University of Minnesota and Cardinal Stritch University.
Andrew would tell you that he learned everything he needed to about sales, customer service, and human nature as a young boy on his Milwaukee Journal paper route. He built on those early career lessons in a variety of interesting jobs spanning Johnson’s Go Cart Track, JR Music, Gift Horse, Journal Communications, ASQ, and UnitedHealthcare. Although he dreamt of a career in fashion marketing and always dressed the part, he found his calling in employee benefits where he realized tremendous professional gratification helping his clients understand complex insurance options and develop strategies to best meet their needs. Andrew was most proud of MKE Benefits, the amazing small business he started five years ago with his good friend and business partner, Chris McArdle, that continues to thrive.
Andrew loved to travel and was lucky enough to visit 6 of the 7 continents in his lifetime. He had so many favorite places, including safaris in South Africa, Hawaiian beaches, Paris, London, Sydney, and Barcelona, to name a few. Andrew loved his city most of all and always said, “There are only two kinds of people who don’t love Milwaukee – those who have never been here and those who never left.” He enjoyed the vitality of downtown Milwaukee and was a passionate advocate for the Third Ward where he made his home for the last 20+ years, entertained and introduced friends and family, and served on the board of The Historic Third Ward Association. Andrew was also actively involved in the Milwaukee Metropolitan Association of Commerce, East Town Association, and Westown Association.
Andrew was intentional and purposeful in connecting with everyone he met. His twinkling eyes and mischievous smile drew you in. He was famous for bringing people together and always said that people would tell him anything. He never met a person without seeking to understand and truly seeing them. He was sought out as a mentor and hailed by friends as “the kid whisperer.” Andrew had a way about him that made every moment better and left an indelible impression on everyone with whom he connected.
Andrew left this world a better place and left a piece of his heart with each of us. Let’s honor his legacy and channel our “inner Andrew” by finding beauty and adventure in conversation, art, travel, and the city that we love.
Andrew is survived by Tracey, his devoted and loving wife of 19 years; Chuck Wadsworth, his brother from another mother; and all 6 older siblings: Ann Niggemann (Len), Gregg Gaertner, John Gaertner (Joy), Jim Gaertner, Pat Gaertner (Christine), and Paul Gaertner (Jennifer). He is further survived by aunts and uncles: Terry Tobin, Pamela and Don Jonovic, and Bridget O’Meara; as well as many nieces, nephews, and cousins; and, of course, the friends he made everywhere he went. Andrew was preceded in death by his parents, Dick and Lois; stepfather, Bob; and nephew, Daniel.
A private celebration of Andrew’s life with family and friends will be held in the future. In lieu of flowers, Andrew has requested donations be made to the Historic Third Ward Association in his name: https://historicthirdward.ecwid.com/In-Memory-of-Andrew-Wadsworth-Donation-$25-p531061281