Businessman Andrew Arntfield has always been a rock musician at heart

Andrew Donald Craig Arntfield: Musician. Artist. Raptors fan. Oenophile. Born April 15, 1957 in Toronto; died February 6, 2022, in Toronto, of cardiac arrest; 64 years old.

Andrew Arntfield.Courtesy of family

Andrew Arntfield was born with his parents’ passion for the piano and his father’s ability to play by ear. He was an eccentric kid who also loved comic books and pop culture: he spent countless hours memorizing the TV guide and every jingle for every show and commercial. (Well into his 50s, he attended Comicon in Toronto and San Diego and collected comic book art until his death.)

His career path was traced to Clarkson High School in Mississauga, where he founded a radio station and won the talent show performing Billy Joel’s piano man. His classmates still remember the year he commandeered the school’s PA system on the last day and lambasted Alice Cooper’s. School is out for the summer.

After graduating, he enrolled in the radio and television arts program at Ryerson (now called Metropolitan University of Toronto), taking a job with Sam the Record Man to pay the bills. He dropped out after several months to join the first of several rock bands with which he spent the next decade touring Canada. He had small touches of stardom: the opening slot for a Steppenwolf tour, a minor radio play, and performing with the Lydia Taylor Band as it won a Juno. The long hours on the road created lasting bonds with his bandmates, but he grew weary of the lifestyle as he grew older.

In 1989, he reinvented himself by starting a graphic design business without a single education in how to use a computer for art. He spent nearly 35 years leading the company that became Field Day Inc., building a team as close as many families and winning major clients such as Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment and the Canadian National Exhibition.

In the early 1990s, he reunited with Patricia Kelly, the love of his life whom he first met as a teenager. They spent the next 30 years together. Together they ran through the Humber River Valley, binge-watched Raptors games, and cooked (often making enough chicken pot pie to get a small colony through the winter). Andrew and Patricia had no children but enjoyed the children of their extended family. Andrew enjoyed throwing toddlers into frenzied excitement by chasing them around like a maniacal version of the tooth fairy. And though he looked sweet, Andrew’s karaoke performances were legendary, especially his version of Queen of Mississippi.

Andrew’s older brother was also his childhood idol. David was often called a big kid, but the nickname suited Andrew just as well. After David’s tragic death in 2019, Andrew channeled his grief into caring for their elderly parents. During the pandemic, he configured his computer to automatically answer Facetime calls – a huge gift for the family – allowing him to connect despite his mother’s dementia, his father’s blindness and the confinements which confined them to their room.

In recent years, Andrew has become passionate about wine and has formed close friendships around a shared love of grapes. And no one was surprised when he discovered a hidden talent with a paintbrush and began selling paintings across North America and participating in juried art shows.

Andrew was both generous and zealous with his passions – he charted every run on social media, confidently silenced those around him at concerts, and transcribed every word from his grandfather’s journals to Facebook. While he would drop anything to help you solve a problem, you better make sure you had as much energy as him to figure out the solution to any mystery you posed to him.

Andrew was a huge Steely Dan fan, but this was the 1984 version of their song Dr. Wu by postpunk band The Minutemen who could get him on the dance floor faster than anyone else. Like the song that moved him, Andrew was an explosion of talent, passion, precision and energy all too soon.

Sarah Van Exan is Andrew’s niece.

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