As a young widow of 45 with two children and with no previous business experience and not having worked for 19 years, Andree took over Gander and White the day after her husband’s unexpected death. In 1966 she was very much a woman working in a man’s world as the head of a freight forwarding company.
The next year, Frank White’s death proved not only to be difficult on a personal level but also professionally challenging. However, as she told Ronald Phillips, “I am always ready to learn”, and with the support of her husband’s close friend, Norman Adams, she knew she could succeed.
Alistair Stair, Frank Lumb, John Fredericks, Hotspur, Mallett’s and Richard Courtney, along with Frank’s many US business clients, supported her in every possible way, ensuring the company always remained at the top end of the market.
Andree was always at her desk at 8am opening the mail and recording the cheques coming in. She found the most enjoyable part of her work talking to “her men” in the warehouse early in the morning.
Andree was a huge presence every year at the Grosvenor House Antiques Fair, at the time the world’s leading venue for the exchange of works of art. As Georgina Gough, clerk of the Art Scholars, recorded: “Quite often the Gander and White stand was manned by a rather formidable looking woman and I have to admit at times I felt intimidated.”
One year the American ambassador to the Court of St James, Walter Annenburg, who had been invited to open the fair and was one of Andree’s clients, asked her how she was. Without waiting for an answer he shouted across the ballroom “Happy and kumfy I shall be, Gander and White, him packee me” – a rhyme used alongside a Chinese Buddha to advertise the company.
Every year she attended the ICEFAT meeting where she was a popular participant.
Before the successful business career, Andree was one of the most highly decorated women of the Second World War, having been given the Croix de Guerre, the Medaille de la Resistance, The Ordre National du Merite and the Legion d’Honneur for her work in the French Resistance.
Her obituary in the Daily Telegraph dated January 23, 2017, records details of her wartime exploits which were based on the book Andree’s War written by her daughter Francelle and published by Elliott and Thompson.
Gander and White thrives today because of her legacy. Her memorial service will be held on March 7.