Francis Edward Abessinio
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Francis Edward Abessinio

Francis Edward Abessinio, "Vito," passed away suddenly at home after a short battle with cancer which he had no time for because he had work to do. Born May 26, 1949, he was 71 which is hard for his family to believe. We were sure he had enough energy to live past age 100.

Francis and his twin brother, Rocco, were born in Wilmington. Their first home was right in the city in a beautiful, old apartment building at 13th and Washington, now the parking lot for Christiana Wilmington Hospital. At age 7, they moved to the suburbs in Penny Hill and attended St. Helena's School together where they competitively tried to sell the most wrapping paper in a school fundraiser, and did, their parents stuck with a lifetime supply of wrapping paper in their basement as a result.

Francis and Rocco attended Salesianum High School, four years that Francis never forgot. He carried Salesianum in his heart forever. He was a generous alumnus who counted many of the Oblates as patients in his thriving Optometry practice.

After high school Francis went on to LaSalle College in Philadelphia, always happy to live in a city. He attended The Southern College of Optometry in Memphis, TN, but he never gave up his dream of coming home to Wilmington and setting up his practice. His expertise found a home on Rte. 202 and State Line Rd, just over the state line in Chadds Ford. Close enough. He worked long hours for 40 years and built a significant following of loyal patients, actually endearing himself to many hard lens patients by asking them, "What did you do to these contacts? Tap dance on them?"

The money he made in Optometry he invested in properties in his beloved city of Wilmington. Clever and resourceful, and cheap, he tried to fix everything himself. If he couldn't, well, it was his way or the highway, often telling carpenters and electricians how to do their jobs with, "Listen, Jack, I want it done like this." Surprisingly, he found many lifelong friends with this approach.

Francis was a native Wilmingtonian of which he was very proud. He loved "Downtown" Wilmington and owned several rental properties there in old buildings and row houses. When his baby girls were big enough, he put a carseat in his truck and they went "Ta-town" with Daddy to collect rents, stop at 7-11 for junk food, and play on every city playground they passed . He was an avid disciple of his father, Vito, and his grandfather, Rocco Abessinio who emigrated to this country from Italy in the early 1900s and built real estate holdings from proceeds from his Rocco's Hat Cleaning and Shoe Shine Shop at 4th and Market, at five cents a shine. Francis was always proud of his roots. By age 12, Francis and Rocky found themselves shining shoes for tips during long, summer days when other kids were swimming. His famous work ethic was born.

Francis is survived by his sweet Irish wife, Marna, and their three devoted daughters and spouses; Emily Abessinio Cain (Kevin), Allison Abessinio Holloway (Dave), Laura Abessinio Terpak (Rich). He was also the proud grandfather of Lucy, Natalie, and Rocky. He also leaves behind his baby brother, Dr. Philip Abessinio of Long Island, NY. Francis was predeceased by his parents, Edith and Vito Abessinio, his twin brother, Rocco, and his sister, Carmella Dorn. He is also survived by his many cousins and friends who will miss his famous Palm Sunday fettucine and walnuts family recipe and Easter pies.

Funeral arrangements will be conducted in compliance with COVID-19 directives, which require mandatory face masks and social distancing.

Relatives and friends are invited to celebrate Francis's life this Friday, November 20th, at 1:00 PM at St. Anthony's Church, Dupont Street, Wilmington, DE. Burial to follow at Cathedral Cemetery.

I lieu of flowers contributions can be made to SALESIANUM SCHOOL 1801 N. Broom Street Wilmington, DE 19802.




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Published in The News Journal from Nov. 17 to Nov. 19, 2020.
MEMORIAL EVENTS
NOV
20
Visitation
01:00 PM
NOV
20
Burial
Cathedral Cemetery
Memories & Condolences
Guest Book sponsored by Charles P. Arcaro Funeral Home - Wilmington
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41 entries
November 26, 2020
Marna & girls my thoughts & prayers go out to you. Francis the time we spent working, hanging out, or talks together. I’ll miss our phone calls you where a great friend & a big brother to me. I’ll miss you for a long time. God Bless your family. P.S. I’m going to miss that smell of that cigar when I would get in the pickup. Steve
Steven Figliola
Friend
November 25, 2020
May the love of friends and family carry you through your grief.
November 25, 2020
Marna and Phillip: I was so sad when I heard about Francis. Though I haven’t seen you guys in a very long time, I think about you often. A copy of the picture that we all took in the parking lot of the King’s Inn one afternoon in the summer of ‘73 still hangs on my wall. What a very special time in a very special place. Fran was a friend as well a mentor - being a few years older than me, his sage advice was always greatly appreciated. I consider myself privileged to have known Francis and his family.
Bob Starr
Friend
November 22, 2020
I must of gone to Dr Abessineo for 20+ years. Got glasses in 2nd grade & continued to come back long after I moved out of the area. For whatever reason he took a genuine interest in my education, my career and in general, my life. Getting to talk to him annually during my appointments was a true pleasure & something I always looked forward to. He was just so smart & so much fun to talk to. Really sad to hear of his passing but thrilled & honored to have known him. A truly wonderful person. Will never forget him.
Eric Moore
Friend
November 22, 2020
I'm so sorry to hear Dr. A has passed. He has been my eye doctor for over 30yrs. It was never a dull moment. My condolences to the family. He will be greatly missed.
Tanishia Manlove
Friend
November 22, 2020
I'm so sorry to hear Dr. A has passed. He has been my eye doctor for over 30yrs. It was never a dull moment. My condolences to the family. He will be greatly missed.
Tanishia Manlove
November 21, 2020
Marna and family, I am so sorry for your loss. May God comfort all of you during this time. I know beautiful and joyful memories of Francis will always be part of your lives. Love Margie Watkins Gott
Margie Watkins Gott
Family
November 20, 2020
I am so sad to hear of Dr A's passing. He fitted me for glasses when I was a kid and I started working for him when I was a teenager. His parents, wife and kids were always in and out of his office. Dr A expected a lot from us and it gave me the opportunity to learn a lot. I worked at Family Eye Care for several years and after I left, Marna was always willing to give me a good job reference. My thoughts and prayers are with his family and everyone that loved him. He was one of a kind and will be missed by many.
Sheri Neumoyer
November 20, 2020
Dr. Abessinio was the best boss, and friend you could ever ask for. If you had a problem, he would help you solve it. I am so fortunate to have had him for a boss. He always treated his staff with respect and kindness. When I moved to Delaware he gave me a job and trained me well in an occupation I would never had dreamed of.
Linda k Jennings
Coworker
November 20, 2020
When my parents finally allowed me to get contacts while I was in high school, I was referred to Dr. Abessinio by a friend. It was at his old office, when Marna was pregnant, and she worked alongside him. I loved him the moment I sat in that chair. His personality was very similar to mine...a wisecracker. So I gave it right back. Ha! He always made me laugh. My eyes were so bad that when he asked me to read the chart, I told him that I couldn’t. He said, “That’s right...because it’s the big letter ‘E’!” I said I was practically blind and would never be able to wear contacts. He replied, “Even with your nearsidedness and astigmatism...don’t worry, we’ll find something for you, kid.” And he did. He told me once, after I got sweaty and lightheaded when he tried to dilate my eyes, that he was going to charge me extra for airconditioning after he changed the temp to make it cooler (of course he was kidding). He always asked about my mom and dad, and would sometimes run into my dad at the bank or other places. He said, “Your poor father with four girls. I don’t know how he does it.” Little did he know he would be blessed with three girls of his own. So, he joined the “daughter only club.” I will be 57 this month, and it’s hard to believe I’ve been with his practice for about 40 years!
I am very sad to hear of his passing, and my condolences go out to Marna, his daughters, and the rest of his family. He will be greatly missed by everyone who knew him.
Lisa DaSilva
Acquaintance
November 20, 2020
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Nichole Shustack
November 20, 2020
Very sad to hear of Fran's passing. My sincere condolences to the Abessinio family. I have been a patient of Dr. Abessinio for almost 40 years. We have had some interesting discussions on our annual meetings about Salesianum, our growing families and life experiences. He was a busy man, and always acted like he would never retire. He was generous with his time during our appointments. I will miss him!
STEPHEN TRUONO
Friend
November 20, 2020
Heartbreaking news to hear about Dr. A's passing. He had a great wit, a heart of gold and was a master at his craft. He will be dearly missed. May he rest easy in The Lord's arms. Prayers for his family , whom he adored.
Rocky and Cathy DeMaio
Cathy and Rocky DeMaio
Friend
November 19, 2020
I'm so very sorry to hear of his passing. I am honored to have worked with/for him at Family Eye Care and so glad he gave me the opportunity to learn and grow in my position, ending as office manager. I can honestly say he was an inspiration and that if I had not had twins and needed to stop working at the time, would likely have worked there till it closed. Marna, and the girls, I know that his memory will be a blessing to you forever.
Kim vonWeltin
Coworker
November 19, 2020
My deepest condolences to the Abessinio Family
Abolore Oshodi
November 19, 2020
Marna & Family: My husband and I are very sad to hear about Dr. Abessinio death. He was my husband’s eye doctor since he opened his office all those years ago. I soon began going to the “Doc” as well and there was no better Eye doctor around. I loved how he would talk about his “girls”. He will be missed. Our prayers go out to his family. Anthony and Deborah Setting
anthony setting
November 19, 2020
I was sorry to hear of this news. We lived next door to the family as kids in Wilmington near the Penny Hill location, and my parents had a business downtown as well. I have vivid memories of visiting their family store as we wandered Market Street as kids.
Shayna Coonin
November 19, 2020
Dear Marna,Girls,Phillip ,Carol,and Entire Abessinio Family, I was So Sorry to hear of FRANCIS passing... Our Prayers ,and Love are Always with the Family... I was Blessed to come to know Francis years back; while caring for his Mom(Edith)). All her children helped,and treated me like their own sister...MAY HE REST IN ETERNAL PEACE ,AMEN... Stephanie& David Colombo-Bilinski,,,FRIEND of The FAMILY./ WILMINGTON,DELAWARE.
Stephanie ColomboBilinski
Friend
November 19, 2020
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Hillary J Shade
November 19, 2020
All of our deepest sympathies go out to Marna and family. What a shock it is to hear of Dr. Abessinio’s untimely passing. He has been our eye doctor since we moved to DE in the 1980’s. Also, we were members of IHM church together - Rick even coached Emily and Allison in their track team. He often spoke of his real estate adventures...especially in Cape May....and, how proud he was of his daughters and their achievements and families! We will miss a dear friend. God Bless you all. Hillary, Rick, Lauren, & Bryan
The Shades
Friend
November 18, 2020
Very Sorry to hear of Francis passing. He was a
good man and my old friend. I will miss him
greatly. My sincere condolences to his family.
Dale Patrick
Friend
November 18, 2020
Marna and family, I'm so sorry to hear about Francis. His life story is wonderful. I'm also sorry that we cannot be together at this time. Sending you all the courage and love in the world.
Tumby Monahan
Family
November 18, 2020
Marna, Albert introduced me to Francis many moons ago while he was still in college. We kept in touch here and there until I became a loyal and grateful patient. He was not only my optometrist; he was my friend. Wishing you peace and comfort during this difficult time.

Butch
Butch Uzzo
Friend
November 18, 2020
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November 18, 2020
To my Big Cuz, and your and Francis's girls, I am so sorry to hear this news. I'm very sorry for your loss, I wish we could all be together. Hugs and love to all of you.
Trish Monahan (Little Cuz)
Family
November 18, 2020
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Todd H. deSatnick
November 18, 2020
My deepest condolences to you, Allison. Peace and love to you and your family.
Julie Caputo
Coworker
November 18, 2020
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November 18, 2020
Marna & family;
I am sorry to hear of Francis's death. It is funny I always felt close to both of you even though we rarely saw each other over the years.
May God grant you peace and comfort during this time.
Cole Wise
November 18, 2020
Marna, so so sorry to hear about Fran. I hope he is at peace and in a better place. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family. I am grateful to have many happy memories with Fran in Wildwood, which I cherish forever. Deepest Sympathies, Jim Palmisano

Jim Palmisano
Friend
November 18, 2020
My husband and I are very sad to hear about Dr. Abessino death. He has been our eye doctor since we moved to Delaware, He was always willing to help when we needed it like finding a doctor for some other reason. He will be missed. Our prayers go out to his family. Deena and Len Dostillio
Deena Dostillio
Friend
November 18, 2020
My deepest and sincere condolences to you Marna, your girls, Philip and cousins. I've known Francis since I was 12 years old and started working for the family. He was truly a one of a kind individual , hard working and driven. I'll miss the "hey boy" greetings that always put a smile on my face. Even though we went our separate ways in later years, it was great knowing and being a friend of his. May he be with and rest in the arms of God.
Mark Tilley
Friend
November 18, 2020
I was a patient of Dr. Abessinio's for many years when I lived in DE. He also bought a house I had for sale in downtown Wilmington, after tenants had done so much damage I could not afford to do repairs. He worked hard with me to remedy this bad situation. For that, I will never forget him. He was also a good eye doctor, who was able to put me in contacts when no other doctor was able to do so. I am very sad to read about his passing at such a young age. He was taken way too soon. Sending my sincere sympathy to the entire family.
Debra McMullen
Acquaintance
November 18, 2020
A patient for nearly 40 years, I expected to see him for another 40 (even though he SAID he was retiring). Dr. A was an excellent, excellent Optometrist. He had an incredible work ethic and clearly adored his "girls" (including the "Missus"). I will miss most his "smart aleck" sense of humor -- the stare and slight eyeroll that got you laughing at your own expense. I will really miss seeing him every year or two.
My deepest condolences to the Abessinio family. Blessings to you all.
Christine Welch
November 18, 2020
So sorry to hear about the loss of Dr. A. He was a such great person to talk to about anything-we will miss him. My condolences to Marna and the family.
Brad Hawkins
Friend
November 18, 2020
I am so very sorry to read of Francis’s passing. Our family loved him as our eye doctor and friend. Sadly, we had to change docs when our insurance changed.
Rest in Paradise Francis
You were a good man and touched the lives of so many.
Praying that God will bless all of the Abessinio family and all who knew and loved him with strength, comfort and consolation.
Sincere condolences,
Randy & Sue Huber
Randall Huber
Friend
November 17, 2020
Sending love & peace to the Abessinio family.
Nicole Morton
Coworker
November 17, 2020
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Erika Flaschner
November 17, 2020
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November 17, 2020
My heart is aching for you Marna. Such a devastating loss and way too soon. Cherish all the memories. Love and prayers to you, Emily, Laura and Allison.
Patti Lechmanik
Friend
November 17, 2020
Marna , and family so sorry for your loss of Francis . ..
For your thoughts : , Aunt Rose had much love for Vito , Edith , Rocco , Francis , Carmella , and Phillip she loved being with them .
Cousin : Frank & Betty Nesci
Betty Nesci
Family
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