Obituary: Andrea Nicol Drexelius

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Andrea Nicol Drexelius

(Dec. 5, 1965 – July 12, 2023)

Andrea Nicol Drexelius passed from this life to the next on July 12, 2023, in Newport Beach, Calif., at the age of 57, after a brief and courageous battle with cancer.

Andrea was born Dec. 5, 1965, in Laguna Beach, Calif., the fourth of five children of Dr. Richard J. “Dick” and Virginia Lorraine “Lori” (Watrin) Drexelius. She and her four siblings were raised in Laguna Beach, and all attended St. Catherine of Siena Grade School there. Later, Andrea attended Cornelia Connelly High School in Anaheim, Calif. 

Childhood summers were largely spent with friends and family, working around town, especially at the Festival of the Arts in Laguna Beach. During her time at Connelly High School, Andrea received her first taste of international travel as an exchange student in Ireland.

After graduating high school, Andrea first attended Southern Methodist University in Dallas but later transferred back to Southern California and then graduated from UCLA in 1988 with a bachelor’s degree in economics. She left California soon after graduation, leading a Bohemian young worker life in New York City for several years. She worked first for Morgan Stanley in money management and later for Rockefeller and Co., engaging in property management as well as other areas of finance.

During her early business career, Andrea traveled abroad whenever she could, including Europe and Japan. Andrea was a “sponge” when it came to areas of culture, whether it be art, music, cooking, wine or travel. French culture was her special passion. Later in her career, Andrea left New York to seek an opportunity to live abroad. She learned to speak the French language fluently, lived in Paris for nearly three years, and studied art history at the Ecole du Louvre (all in French). Andrea moved back to New York for a few years, but after the trauma of 9/11, she made the decision to move back to Laguna Beach permanently. Nevertheless, wherever she was and whatever she was doing, Andrea always maintained her love of French culture and especially her “joie de vivre.” In her later years, many summers were spent at a historic home in Beaune, France, which was a very special place for her.

After returning to Southern California, Andrea started her own business, French Basketeer, importing and then selling classic French baskets and totes from the former French colonies of Madagascar and Morocco. She formed a French-speaking social group in Laguna Beach. She also worked in office management at various times with her father, Dick and sister Janis’s respective medical practices. Andrea volunteered many hours serving on the Connelly HS Board of Trustees. She enjoyed helping others at the Laguna Farmer’s market, cooking meals for friends and really anyone in need of assistance. Andrea was famous for her homemade cakes, her panache at throwing parties and helping others to entertain. Andrea loved her family and her many friends. She was devoted to her nieces and nephews, and especially to her parents, helping to care for them and living with them until the end at the family home in North Laguna Beach.

Andrea is survived by her mother, Lori Drexelius; her sister, Michelle (Marc) Spitaleri of Huntington Beach; her sister, Janis (Martin) Fee of North Tustin; her brother, Rick (Leticia) Drexelius of Sedalia, Colo., and her younger sister, Jacqueline (Mark) Phillips of Cody, Wy. She was preceded in death by her father, Dick Drexelius.

A memorial mass will be held at 10 a.m. on Saturday, Sept. 16, at St. Catherine of Siena Parish Church in Laguna Beach. The mass is open to the public, family and friends. In lieu of flowers, donations in Andrea’s name may be made to the Laguna Beach Food Pantry.

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