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George St. Andre, 86; Engineer worked on Red Sox TV broadcasts

George St. Andre (left), with Joe Gianquinto near a WBZ-TV antenna. Mr. St. Andre became WBZ chief engineer in 1970.

Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers

George St. Andre (left), with Joe Gianquinto near a WBZ-TV antenna. Mr. St. Andre became WBZ chief engineer in 1970.

In the early years of broadcasting Red Sox games live on television, announcer Curt Gowdy broke his leg once and could not travel to Fenway Park.

George St. Andre of WHDH-TV did not panic. Instead, he had a plan: Set up a temporary broadcast studio in Gowdy’s home so he could watch a live feed and do the commentary from his couch.

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Never merely an engineer, Mr. St. Andre was an innovator whose fascination with all mediums of communication went beyond his job, and he made a point of connecting with everyone, said his son William of Braintree.

“He wasn’t a carpet inspector,” his son said. “He didn’t walk around with his head down, ignoring people. He was outgoing and would say hi to everyone, whether you were the president or the janitor. He wanted them to know that he was someone they could go to.”

Mr. St. Andre, who worked for many years at WHDH and WBZ and helped engineer live telecasts of Red Sox games from Fenway and spring training, died of complications from a heart ailment June 28 in his Braintree home. He was 86.

In 1951, he started his career at Raytheon Co., where he was a television field engineer for New England and New York State. While at Raytheon, Mr. St. Andre also worked for a number of radio stations, including WJDA-AM in Quincy.

He was hired by WHDH radio in 1953 as a studio engineer, and in July 1957 he was promoted to chief engineer for WHDH-TV and radio. As chief engineer, he was responsible for keeping the television station on the air at all times. In 1970, he became the chief engineer for WBZ-TV.

‘He was outgoing and would say hi to everyone, whether you were the president or the janitor.’

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“I always thought of him as a take-charge kind of guy, especially at work,” his son said. “He really took it to heart.”

Mr. St. Andre, who retired in 1991, also was a ham radio enthusiast, and in the early 1960s erected a 40-foot radio tower in his backyard.

Under the call letters K1UDP, Mr. St. Andre regularly spoke with other ham operators from more than 100 countries, said his son James of Manchester, England. Mr. St. Andre was a member of the American Radio Relay League and the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers.

In his spare time, Mr. St. Andre enjoyed building radios and televisions from scratch, and in the early 1980s he constructed a computer. According to James, Mr. St. Andre said he needed to figure out the inner workings of a computer because he did not “want to buy a machine and not know how it works.”

Born in Boston, Mr. St. Andre grew up in Braintree, where he graduated from Braintree High School. During high school, he worked at a local market in Braintree Square called Hunter & Smith, ran track and cross-country, and was fond of tinkering with electronics.

Beginning in 1944, near the end of World War II, Mr. St. Andre spent two years serving in the Coast Guard. His duties included operating LORAN, or long-range navigation, to assist convoys crossing the Atlantic.

Mr. St. Andre then moved to Washington, D.C., to attend the Capitol Radio Engineering Institute, now Capitol College. He graduated in 1949 with an associate’s degree in electronics engineering technology.

In 1950, he married Blanche Tobey. She died in 1996.

A longtime parishioner of Saint Thomas More Church in Braintree, Mr. St. Andre remained active in retirement, serving as a Braintree Town Meeting member, and also was involved with the Men’s Club of Braintree, the Massachusetts Audubon Society, the Braintree Historical Society, and the South Shore Camera Club.

In addition, Mr. St. Andre enjoyed summers on Cape Cod, where he was a member of the Hyannis Yacht Club.

He and his brother Guy of Braintree spent time together converting old radio programs from a reel-to-reel tape recorder to cassette tapes.

A service has been held for Mr. St. Andre, who along with his sons William and James and brother Guy leaves two other sons, John of Waterbury, Conn., and Thomas of Norfolk, Va.; three daughters, Louise of Duarte, Calif., Barbara of Canton, and Elizabeth of Santa Barbara, Calif.; another brother, Arthur of Port St. Lucie, Fla.; eight grandchildren; and a great-granddaughter.

Louise described her father as smart and “very quick with jokes.”

She remembered her father as a family man whose organizational skills served him well in helping raise seven children. Every Christmas morning, she said, he lined up the children on the stairs from youngest to oldest, and then led the way to the presents.

“He was the best dad in the world, really,” she said. “We did everything as a family.”

Katherine Landergan can be reached at
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