Andrew ‘Andy’ Tan

March 1961 - October 2023

Andrew G. “Andy”  Tan, self-taught fisherman, gardener, forager, and entrepreneur, who strove for excellence in all his endeavors, has died.

He departed the living in October 2023. He was 62.

He was born in March 1961 in Urbana, Illinois, and raised in the Tampa Bay area of Florida, with his parents and two younger sisters, dogs, and an iguana.

Beloved husband, son, brother, uncle, cousin, and friend to many, Andy was affectionately known as “Droid” to his college friends.

Andy was a private, thoughtful, and introspective individual, with a strong intellect and the ability to achieve anything he set his mind to. Finding peace and solace in nature, he enjoyed time on the river and in the woods.

He graduated near the top of the class of 1979 at Clearwater High School in Clearwater, Florida.  He frequently combined beach time with his classes. Excelling in chess, he would psych out his opponents with strategic brilliance. He played classical violin in the local youth orchestra.

Andy’s passion for fishing originated during his youth, when he also collected insects and ran a community reptile-removal service.  Services included helping people to remove uninvited alligators from their swimming pools and backyards.

He was active in Boy Scouts, during which time he hiked the Appalachian Trail.  It was during this time that he developed survivalist skills that became ingrained into his mindset.

He attended the University of Chicago, where he met his life-partner Shauna Smith, and forged many lifelong friendships. He captivated Shauna’s heart in the study cubicles of the Regenstein Library, disrupting her studies and sparking a connection that grew into a lasting partnership. Their journey led them to Seattle, where they built a life together.

Nine years after that initial flirtation, Andy and Shauna were married, at the base of Mount Rainier in Washington.

During college, Andy challenged many friends to backgammon matches. To no avail, many kept returning for another chance at victory.  Brutal with the doubling cube, Andy almost always prevailed.

Upon moving to the Pacific Northwest, Andy embraced salmon and steelhead fishing, digging clams, jigging for squid, and mushroom hunting. He had an uncanny talent for finding mushrooms and returning from outings with full bags. The key was seeking out the proper habitat under the right conditions. It seemed like he could smell them!  Over the years, he and Shauna found 50-some edible varieties of mushrooms, both in the woods, and right near home in the city!

Known for sharing his skills and passions, Andy introduced friends and family to fishing and to clam digging, and he shared the fruits of his garden labors with friends and neighbors.  His love of cooking, cultivated during his early years with his father, reached new heights throughout his life. He delighted in preparing multi-course meals for others, often featuring items caught, foraged, and grown by his own hands.  He was driven by the desire to savor every meal as if it may have been his last. It was hard to beat dining at Chez Tan.

Andy believed in the advancement of science for the sake of knowledge.  In his basement in Seattle, he was the first to breed a particular species of clownfish. He was up feeding the “fry” (young fish) every 2 hours for weeks, on multiple occasions.

He did not value notoriety, nor did he enjoy writing, so he did not publish his work.

He went on to open and co-manage Saltwater City, a destination saltwater aquarium store in the Puget Sound region. The store was the culmination of his lifelong passion for studying marine fish and invertebrates, and their environments.  His goal, more than making sales, was to educate customers about the hobby based on their individual needs.  He also served a number of years as a board member for the Elysian Brewing Company.  Adhering to the motto “Be proactive, not reactive,” Andy played a key role in the success of both of these startup ventures.

Andy was a bit obsessive at times.  He and Shauna jokingly called this “serial obsessive-compulsive disorder.”  As a child, he read the encyclopedia cover to cover.

In the early 1990s, he embarked on a Pac-Man marathon, playing for multiple consecutive days until he conquered every level. Not much else got done during those weeks! Having learned to appreciate art from his mother, he would at times study abstract art books for hours on end.

He achieved his first hunting kill on a friend’s farm in Missouri. Ever practical, he proceeded to haul the animal up the back steps of the three-flat in Chicago where he lived with Shauna. He then skillfully butchered the animal within the confines of their very small bathroom. Thankfully none of the neighbors witnessed this unexpected scene!

Though Andy was not interested in astrology, some may find it interesting that he was born under Pisces zodiac sign.

In addition to his wife Shauna, Andrew is survived by his mother Mary Ann (Eng) Tan, of Dunedin, Florida; sisters Sharon Tan and Lauren Wilcox;  nephew Ian Smith and wife Rebecca Smith; and cousin Daniel Chan. He also leaves behind nieces/nephews Isabel, Connor, Caroline, and Charlie, mother-in-law Rheta, brother-in-law Kelly, and numerous aunts, uncles and cousins, throughout the United States and in Thailand.

He was preceded in death by his father, Peter Soo Ling Tan, of Bangkok, Thailand.

Three feline companions also deeply miss his presence. A self-proclaimed dog person, he cherished those kitties immeasurably!

The compassionate team at Recompose in Seattle is helping Andy live on by transforming his remains into soil, much as mushrooms contribute to the circle of life.

Andy leaves behind cherished memories and a legacy of determination and generosity that has touched the lives of so many, and will continue to do so.

He was truly a multi-faceted individual, who will be dearly missed by many.

Memorial services to celebrate his life are anticipated in the spring of 2024.

If you wish to celebrate Andrew’s life with music, you are invited to play music by Eric Clapton, The Allman Brothers, Blind Faith, Stevie Wonder, Sly and the Family Stone, Emerson Lake and Palmer, and The Carpenters.

Or pull up a motown mix, jazz by Miles Davis or Dave Brubeck, violin music by Itzhak Perlman, or a violin concerto by Tchaikovsky or Mozart.

His favorite single song was (Sittin’ on) The Dock of the Bay, by Otis Redding.

Donations in Andrew’s memory may be made to the Seattle Area Feline Rescue or Puget Soundkeeper Alliance. Please also consider, as Andy would do, going out to enjoy the serenity of hanging by the river or a walk in the woods, keeping your eyes peeled for edibles.

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Recompose is a licensed, full-service, green funeral home in Seattle offering human composting. As the first human composting company in the world, we are a trusted leader in ecological death care. We are Seattle’s only human composting provider and serve clients across the U.S.

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