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  • Writer's pictureNielsen Studios Inc

American Faces #66 - What joy looks like.

Do you ever wonder what Joy looks like? I saw it. Not in the face of a child, but in the face of an 83 year-old guy in University of Minnesota apparel playing harmonica for my family’s goats at the Minnesota State Fair. I recognized him for some reason, like we had crossed paths somewhere before. In fact we had, at a concert in Maple Grove, Minnesota, in August of 2020 where he was dancing and clapping to Shania Twain’s song, “Man! I feel like a woman!” He seemed a bit off his rocker to me. But that’s what joy looked like, Andy Whitman style.

Through these two encounters with Andy, American Faces No. 66, I quickly came to see this man genuinely loves life. He said it’s something his mom instilled in him, along with a love for music and a passion for learning… and sharing joy.

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Andy shares his joy for music at senior living facilities where his guitar, harmonica and voice – in harmony with his lovely wife, Carol – lift the spirits of residents as they sing along to songs from decades past, all while Andy dances with an energy and grace that defies his 83 years.

Andy has shared his joy for life traveling on mission trips around the world, where he’s been known to give harmonicas away. He actively volunteers for Meals on Wheels, and freely gives smiles away to all who cross his path.

And has expressed joy throughout his life’s journey. He’s raced sailboats competitively, worked in the insurance industry, earned a law degree and a PhD, works as a Professor of Insurance at the UM Carlson School of Management in Minneapolis, and has even served as firefighter.

What does joy look like? Joy looks like a man who smiles and sings to residents at a senior home. It looks like a man playing harmonica to goats at the State Fair. It looks like a man dancing with his wife at some big band concert. Joy looks like Andy Whitman – a man who invites everyone he meets to live, laugh, love and learn. He calls it the “4-L’s Club.”

May we all look a whole lot more like Andy. I think his 4-L’s Club has plenty of room.

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