Andrea's Birch Trees

On August 9th 2018, three birch trees were planted in Chicago in memory of Andrea Harris.

By Bart Harris

Andrea Harris was a competitive woman in everything she undertook. In no other pursuits was this more evident then her competitive running and cycling. She recorded her fastest marathon time in the 1983 New York City Marathon when she finished in two hours and fifty six minutes. In 1988, at the age of thirty nine, she qualified for the Olympic trials in Houston, Texas in three bicycling track events, the pursuit in three distances. While she didn't make the Seoul Summer Olympic team, she did compete against the best US women in her events, a few were young enough to be her daughter.

Much of Andrea's training and many of her races took place in Lincoln Park. The morning of August 9, 2018 I was able to witness the planting of three trees in her memory, just east of Lake Shore Drive West between Barry Street and Oakdale Avenue and next to the Lakefront running path. What brings so much meaning to the three White Birch trees planted in her memory is twofold. Andrea created one hundred or more oil paintings of Birch trees and Aspen Trees. The three trees are close to a grove of trees called "Jack's Grove" in memory of Andrea's dear friend Erma Tranter's then husband Jack Tranter. Erma was the first Executive Director of Friends of the Park, a wonderful organization dedicated to keeping our parks in Chicago and particularly Lincoln Park as a lasting legacy to Chicago and the world. Erma was instrumental in making our dream of the trees a reality to honor my beautiful wife Andrea Harris, a beloved mom, grandma, mentor to so many and friend to all she met.

As our son Aaron said when he saw photographs of the tree planting, "Mom often ran the very path where her Birch trees are spreading their roots, growing stronger and standing taller each day, and giving unconditional love to whoever they meet. Just like Mom". When you walk your dog through Lincoln Park, take a stroll with a loved one, run a foot race, cycle with a friend, bird watch, or go to the zoo or Notabart Butterfly Museum, please look for Andrea's Birch Trees and think of her.