Andrew Mercier, a serial entrepreneur and Cub Scout who inspired the Knollwood community in Towson, died Sunday, Dec. 15 after an eight-month battle with leukemia. He was 10 years old.
Paul Mercier, Andrew’s father, said Andrew was “the happiest little kid” and “incredibly generous.” He said Andrew was the kind of kid who would get along with anybody and everybody.
Colleen Mercier, Andrew’s mother, said Andrew loved to make people laugh, and was always looking for ways to be creative.
Andrew was diagnosed with leukemia on Easter Sunday in late April of this year, and spent time in and out of Johns Hopkins Children’s Center since then. Andrew’s positive attitude while he battled his cancer – he never got angry about his situation, his parents said – inspired the Knollwood community in Towson to hang streamers around the community in Andrew’s honor.
The carp streamers are traditional in Japan, where they are used to honor Children’s Day. The Knollwood community flew the streamers as a visible show of support for Andrew. An artist painted a koi mural on a restaurant in Towson, also as a show of support.
Andrew was also an entrepreneur, his parents said. His “fallback” operation was selling lemonade, but Colleen Mercier said that was “a little too normal” for Andrew. He would sell brownies and, not long ago, Andrew collected and painted rocks to sell to neighbors.
And even more recently, Andrew taught himself how to hand sew in an activity room at Hopkins. He was starting to make coin purses to sell to people, and even had orders coming, his parents said.
“Just in the last weeks, this kid took up sewing. I don’t sew, no one sews. I don’t know where he got it,” Colleen Mercier said. “He loved to have a purpose. He was very driven to make his money, he was very driven to have his purpose.”
Andrew was a student at Stoneleigh Elementary School, where he was sometimes seen as a bit of a class clown, Paul Mercier said. But he also had a real aptitude for learning. Colleen Mercier said Andrew took naturally to reading, that he was good at math.
“He was just so smart. My husband and I would ask him how to spell words,” she said.
Heather Hollenbeck, principal at Stoneleigh Elementary, said Andrew was “very well liked," and that his classmates found him to be kind and funny.
Andrew had to stop attending classes in spring and instead had a tutor with him. But when fifth grade started in the fall, he was able to remotely attend classes through an iPad that was mounted on a robot that Andrew controlled, Hollenbeck said. He was able to move around the school and participate in classes.
“With everything that Andrew as given on his plate, he was somehow able to find humor and laughter and the desire to still have as normal as a situation as possible,” Hollenbeck said. “I think that that was something that his friends and the teachers here really admired about him. He wasn’t angry, he wasn’t unhappy.”
Andrew was also in the Cub Scouts, where he continued to work toward earning the advancements necessary to earn what’s called a “Heavy Shoulder” award. Paul Mercier said he and Andrew would work on scout activities together while Andrew was still in the hospital.
“He wanted to be at the top, he wanted to do the most he could,” Paul Mercier said.
His parents said Andrew loved being outside and spending time at the pool during the summer. He was a reader who enjoyed graphic novels, especially Garfield. In the last year or two, he was starting to get into playing video games. He “wasn’t super competitive” but loved playing soccer with his friends.
And, his parents said, Andrew was a bit of a celebrity at school. In the third , he and a classmate had a wedding ceremony on the playground. Paul Mercier said Andrew and his “wife” may have recently gotten “divorced” because Andrew “could not be married to a woman who did not like doughnuts.”
“But they still wanted to be best friends,” Paul Mercier said.
His parents said Andrew was brave throughout his treatment. Paul Mercier said Andrew “fought like hell” toward the end of this life and “kept proving those doctors wrong,” as they warned the family that various treatments might not be successful.
“He fought for eight months with grace,” Paul Mercier said.
A funeral service for Andrew will be held at Ruck Towson Funeral Home on Saturday, Dec. 21, from 4-7 p.m. An internment will be private.
In lieu of flowers or other gifts, the family is asking those interested to make donations in Andrew’s name to the Sidney Kimmel Cancer Center / Centers & Clinics Pediatric Oncology.