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SHIRLEY ABBOTT

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SHIRLEY ABBOTT Obituary
S.L. ABBOTT Shirley Levoy "S.L." Abbott passed away peacefully on April 23, 2013 from complications of congestive heart failure. He was born July 23, 1924 to Aaron "Jack" and Vera Goodwin Abbott in Fairview, Oklahoma. He was raised by his mother from the age of two to eight when his mother died prematurely while they were living with his grandparents Theron and Eva Goodwin. His grandparents raised him on their tenant dairy farm outside Stewartville, Minnesota where he attended a one room school house and came to love farming. His father married Floy Coe Abbott when he was fourteen and they took him to live in Clinton, Oklahoma and then to El Paso, Texas where he attended Austin High School and met Arline Beahler. He and Arline Beahler were married on Cinco de Mayo, 1945 and they honeymooned at the Noisy Water Lodge in Ruidoso. Austin High School would later name him their Outstanding Ex. As a young man growing up in El Paso, he had many jobs but often mentioned running the rides at Washington Park, distributing handbills for the Chew Grocery, working as a soda jerk at Gunning Casteel and as a bellboy at the Cortez Hotel. He attended the College of Mines where he was a Cheerleader. When World War II was declared he left school and enlisted in the US Army and served in the South Pacific in Saipan. After the war he returned to El Paso and married Arline, after she typed his discharge papers as a civilian volunteer. They moved to Portales, New Mexico where he worked in an uncle's jewelry store which was later moved to San Diego, California. It was in San Diego that their only child Alan was born. He said Alan was an only child because they took one look at him and pledged not to do that again. Their next move was to Santa Rosa, California where he and a partner started their own watch repair and jewelry store. While there he graduated from Santa Rosa Junior College. He was admitted to study optometry at Pacific University in Forest Grove, Oregon where he completed his B.S. and his Doctorate of Optometry. Pacific University would later name him it's Outstanding Ex. While there, he built a small boat and joined the Air Force Reserves where he got his private pilot's license. Boating and flying would become passions for him. Dr. Abott returned to El Paso to start his optometric practice and was one of the first in the region to fit the corneal contact lens. As his practice grew, he met a charismatic young Catholic priest by the name of Father Harold Rahm. He began to work with Padre Haroldo and he converted to Catholicism and served with Father Rahm as Chairman of the Board of Our Lady's Youth Center. His belief that Texas should be a two party state led him to enter Republican politics where he served as El Paso County chairman at a time when he said the party was so small they held the county convention in a phone booth downtown. He also served as Deputy State Chairman of the Republican Party. He ran unsuccessfully for the State Senate three times, State Comptroller once and was finally elected to the State House in a special election in 1977, thus becoming the first Republican elected to the State House from El Paso County in that century. His favorite opposition bumper sticker was one that said "Surely not Shirley". He continued his flying by helping to organize the Civic Air Patrol in El Paso and infamously landing his plane in the Balboa Park Zoo, when he ran out of gas on final into Lindbergh Field in San Diego. The FAA inspector who rushed to the site was not amused to find him with a gas can trying to refuel and fly to Lindberg Field. He also began sailing a Schock '22 in the Sea of Cortez and late in his life cruised his beloved Khotso, a Nordic Tug, in the Baja of Mexico. When he could no longer walk, he placed a recliner on the aft deck and held court from there. In the late 60s, he started Pan American Optical Company which operated in various sectors of the ophthalmic optical industry. This enterprise later became Sunland Optical Company and was the largest military optical contractor in the United States. He developed Greenbriar Manor and Lynwood Garden Apartments and was a shareholder and founding director of Continental National Bank and Valley Bank. In the early seventies he was named Small Businessman of the Year by the El Paso Small Business Administration. Having lived through the Great Depression with his maternal grandparents on their tenant farm he had a passion for the rural life. At different times, he operated a cattle ranch in Hatch, New Mexico, developed a pecan farm in Anthony, New Mexico, grew alfalfa and cotton in Tornillo, Texas and grapefruit and oranges in Borrego Springs, California. His and Arline's favorite was the Texas Citrus and Game Farm in the Eastern Cape of South Africa which they operated with their grandson Jason. It was their "Out of Africa" experience. In the mid seventies he was appointed to be the Regional Director of the Bi-Centennial Administration and he traveled a five state region giving patriotic speeches celebrating our countries 200th anniversary. About this time he co-founded the Granaderos de Galvez which honored the Spanish influence on the development of America. He and many El Pasoans traveled to Spain on numerous occasions as guests of the Spanish government. He was honored as Honorary Consul General of Spain for Texas and on one of the group trips was presented with the highest honor awarded a non Spanish citizen, The Order of Isabella La Catolica by King Juan Carlos of Spain. In 1983 President Reagan appointed him Ambassador to the Kingdom of Lesotho, which is an independent monarchy in Southern Africa. His Ambassadorial orientation was performed by Ambassador Shirley Temple Black whom he teased about causing his name to become a popular girls' name. He painted portraits of the King and Queen of Lesotho which he presented to them at the Royal Palace, without creating an international incident. He was also a published poet. These artistic talents he inherited from his mother. He was charming, a fearless adventurer and lived every day of his life. He was a mesmerizing story teller and when pressed would admit that some of his stories were true. He was predeceased by Arline, his loving wife of sixty-five years, whom he missed every remaining day of his life, and survived by his son Alan, daughter-in-law Beth (and her prolific Postlewaite clan, too numerous to mention here), grandson Jason and his wife Mariane, granddaughter Allison Kaelin and her husband Bill and their children Brayden and Leah. He is survived by his brother Bill and his wife Donna, he was predeceased by his sister Cleta Yeatts and his brothers and sisters in law Lt. Col. Lee E. Beahler, his wife Anne and Al O'Leary and survived by sister in law Maybelle O'Leary and her daughters Aleen Ball and Patsy O'Leary, brother in law Dr. John Beahler and his wife Electra. He is also survived by cousin Karla Boggs and her husband Senator Larry Boggs. He asked that there be no formal ceremony. Special thanks are given to his caregiver Merly and hospice nurse Monet Ruff, RN. For those wishing to make a memorial contribution, you may contribute to the Arline Beahler Abbott Scholarship in Business Administration at The University of Texas at El Paso, which he endowed in Arline's honor. University Development, Kelly Hall, 7th Floor, 500 West University Avenue, El Paso, TX 79968-0524 or to a .

Published in El Paso Times from Apr. 27 to May 4, 2013
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