Life off the Beaten Path

Not all residents were born in Mansfield, but everyone who moves here quickly finds themselves right at home — just ask Louie Andres. Retired from the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, Louie grew up in southwest Ohio and moved to Mansfield in 1992 to manage Malabar Farm State Park. With a wife and three children under five, Louie had his work cut out for him. He soon found a community perfect for raising his family and growing his career. “I brought my family here, stayed here, built a house here,” says Louie. “We made our lives here.”

To know Louie is to know Malabar Farm State Park, where he spent the majority of his career, and where his heart still resides. Malabar Farm was the dream of Mansfield native son, Louis Bromfield — a Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist and a founding father of the modern environmental movement. He built his home here, which is why Louie spearheaded the Malabar Farm Foundation in 1993 to promote Bromfield’s principles and ideals.

Malabar Farm is Louis Bromfield’s legacy — and Louie Andres’ too. “I was brought here because of my community building skills,” says Louie. “My background was as a park ranger and environmental educator, and I moved my way through the system as manager.” Key to Louie’s position was gaining the confidence and trust of the community. He did that by joining forces with Destination Mansfield-Richland County. “Their job is to attract outsiders to Mansfield and make them feel at home,” explains Louie. “What everyone loves is the mix of small-town charm with access to the big cities.”

Louie recommends anyone new in town to get involved. “That’s the first thing I told my kids growing up, and I still tell people to this day — you need to get involved in the community. Volunteer someplace. Find what you like. There are a lot of opportunities. This is a great place to raise a family because it’s also a great place to learn about work ethic.” And Louie practices what he preaches. Not content to sit idle, he continues working during retirement for Pleasant Hill Lake Park, and is the longest-serving board member of Destination Mansfield-Richland County.

But it’s not all work and no play for Louie, as he knows all the things to do in Mansfield. “People don’t know what is in their own backyard,” he says. “Bromfield called this the edge of paradise. When you come out here, it’s like nowhere else in Ohio. If you get off the beaten path, you’ll be surprised by what you see.”