Joseph Charles Abeles

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ABELES--Joseph Charles, died peacefully in his Pleasantville home on November 30, 2008 at age 93. Joe is survived by his sister, Helen Levanthal, his daughters Lucille Werlinich and Barbara Abeles, his grandson, Greg Werlinich, and his three great-grandchildren, Nola, Lily and Ezra. Joe was born in New York City on January 6, 1915 and lived his entire life in the New York area. He was a devoted husband for over 60 years to his beloved Sophia who passed away in 2001. Joe will be remembered for many things: his love for his family, his business acumen and his investment prowess; his love of golf, Johnnie Walker scotch, and along with Sophia, an abiding belief in philanthropy. After completing high school at age 15, Joe earned a B.S. in chemical engineering from NYU. He then worked briefly for Parker-Kalon as an industrial engineer. In 1936 he joined Faesy & Besthoff as a sales agent. In 1950 he co-founded the Kawecki Chemical Company. In 1968 KCC joined with the Beryllium Corporation to form Kawecki Berylco Industries, or KBI. For 28 years he led the company through domestic and international growth, culminating in the sale of the company to the Cabot Corporation in 1978. KBI then employed over 2,000 people and had sales in excess of $200 million. After retiring from Cabot in 1980, Joe spent the better part of the next 25 years focused on the stock market, making private equity investments, and helping to guide a number of small companies through his position on their Boards of Directors. Some of those companies included Ultralife Batteries, a company he helped to co-found, Intermagnetics General, Bluegreen and Igene Biotechnology. Outside of his family, work and the stock market, Joe's greatest passion was golf. He took his clubs with him wherever he traveled in the world. Some of the great life lessons that he imparted to family, friends and colleagues were that: "fast payers make good friends", "it's better to one putt than three", and of course, "drive for show but putt for dough". Then after the round, it would be time for a Johnnie Walker Black, on the rocks, with a twist. Joe and Sophia established the Joseph and Sophia Abeles Foundation 39 years ago. They used this charitable foundation to support their numerous philanthropic activities. They supported local causes important to them, principally education, the arts and medicine. They tried to give their money to causes where they could do the most good and have the greatest impact. The greatest examples of their work can be seen at Westchester Community College where they have endowed more than two dozen teaching chairs and where they set up the Nancy Jo Abeles Scholarship Fund, in memory of their daughter Nancy, to create opportunities for people who may not otherwise have been able to receive an education. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of people around the world who have received, and likely still have, a pocket diary and/or a penlight given by Joe. There are at least as many people who have shared a round of golf, discussed the stock market, or simply been given some simple words of wisdom by Joe. He was an honest, loyal and generous man. He will be missed by all who knew him. Contributions can be made in his name to the Nancy Jo Abeles Scholarship Fund through the Westchester Community College Foundation, 75 Grasslands Rd., Valhalla, NY 10595. 914-606-6670. A service will be held at Riverside Memorial Chapel, 21 Broad St., Mt. Vernon, on Wednesday, December 3, at 12:00. The family will greet friends at the home, 1055 Bedford Rd., Pleasantville, NY, after the service, and again from 4:00 to 7:00 on Thursday.
Published in The New York Times on Dec. 2, 2008
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Mount Vernon, NY   (914) 664-6800
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