John P. Abbett passed away Sunday, Jan. 21, 2018. Although he struggled in the last months with dementia and memory loss, his loving wife, Rosemary, and the rest of he extended family remember on his behalf a treasure trove of stories and an entire lifetime from his 30 years serving in the U.S. National Park Service (NPS).
John, born Oct. 15, 1941 and 76 years old at the time of his death, was the youngest sibling to Mary, Art "Butch" and Mike, all of California, and born to the late Dr. Arthur and Lois Abbett in Castro Valley, California.
John loved the outdoors and exploring and preserving nature. He dabbled in the study of auto mechanics and business before enrolling at Humboldt State College in Arcata, California, for a degree in forestry - and then told his parents after the fact. While serving as president of the college's hiking organization, the Boot and Blister Club, John met his first wife, Carla. They married in 1963 in Eureka, California, and had their first daughter, Tova, the following year.
After graduation John became a park ranger with the U.S. National Park Service, attending the Albright Training School in Grand Canyon in 1965. His first park ranger assignment, to the horror of Carla, was the desolate, arid Lake Mead National Recreation Area, where they lived rustically and without a phone in Temple Bar and Cottonwood Cove. During this time John's daughters, Maisie and Marnie, were born.
Lake Mead National Recreational Area was the first of several national parks John honorably served, followed by Point Reyes National Seashore, Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, the Mid-Atlantic Regional Office in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and Colonial National Historical Site in Yorktown, Virginia, where John was responsible for successfully coordinating and implementing the NPS Bicentennial celebration of the British surrendering the Revolutionary War at Yorktown, Virginia.
John ended his career as assistant superintendent of Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, where he met and married his loving wife, Rosemary, and was lucky to gain a bigger family in the process. He retired after 30 years of NPS service in 1994.
John advised his family that Sleeping Bear was where he wanted to remain - he loved Lake Michigan, the lighthouses, the seasons and his life, so he made his home in Frankfort with Rosemary. After retiring John spent his days doing what he enjoyed most, working outdoors and fixing or building things as a handyman around town. John is remembered for his knack of bringing torrential rain and thunder storms whenever he took Carla and his daughters camping, getting stuck in mud when driving on dirt roads in the wilderness, for "fixing" or "building" things with that special "pop-duck-tape-flair," for always threatening to stop the car and eject the three very little girls who could not stop giggling in the backseat, for his extensive collection of books about trees, for hundreds of screwdrivers, spare nails, hammers, drills, pliers, wire, super glue, old paint and bungee cords squirreled away in the garage and turning music pages while Rosemary played concerts and services.
John will be deeply missed and always remain in the memories of his wife, Rosemary, and her children, Ed (Laura), of Florida, and Kathy (Keith), of South Carolina; as well as John's first wife, Carla, of Maryland, and their three daughters, Tova (Joe), of Utah, Maisie (Greg), of California, and Marnie (Shane), of Maryland. John's numerous grandchildren scattered throughout the Unites States will undoubtedly miss those evening walks to get ice cream with Grandpa/Pop-Pop when visiting Frankfort. His three siblings and their families share in remembering little brother, Johnny Pat.
The Abbetts are grateful for the loving and professional care John received at Paul Oliver Living and Rehabilitation Center in Frankfort as well as endless support received from other family and friends.
A celebration of John's life will be held this summer with times to be announced.
In lieu of flowers, the family suggests planting a tree in John's memory or making a contribution to Paul Oliver Living and Rehab, the Alzheimer's Foundation or the National Park Foundation.
Arrangements are by Jowett Family Funeral Homes & Cremation Service, Benzonia.
Published on January 31, 2018