Bruce James Abbey
1943 - 2020
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Bruce James Abbey

Charlottesville - 1943-2020

Bruce James Abbey, former dean of the Syracuse School of Architecture from 1990 to 2002, passed away on October 26, 2020, at his home in Charlottesville, Virginia, after a seven-year struggle with cancer. While serving as dean he was responsible for curriculum reform, the renovation of Slocum Hall, and guiding the school to high national rankings. Born in Burlington, Vermont, on May 18, 1943, he was educated in public schools in Burlington and spent his senior year of high school in Rome, Italy, at the Liceo Ginnasio Statale "Giuglio Cesare" as an AFS-USA (formerly the American Field Service) exchange student. In 1961 he started his studies in architecture at Cornell University, where he received a B. Arch in 1966. He completed his graduate study at Princeton University, where he received a M. Arch. in 1971. He served as an architect in the Peace Corps from 1966 to 1969 in the Republic of Tunisia, first in in the Bureau of Public Works in El Kef and later in Bizerte, restoring and documenting mosques for the National Institute of Art and Archeology.

His professional office experience included working for Dan Kiley, Michael Graves, and GBQC architects. In 1974 he started an academic career at the University of Virginia, becoming Chair of the Department of Architecture and Associate Dean. In 1990 he moved to Syracuse as dean and professor, retiring from the faculty in 2016 as Emeritus Dean and Professor of Architecture in 2016. He taught architecture in Italy in Vicenza and Venice for the University of Virginia and in Florence for several years for Syracuse University as a Professor and director of the M. Arch II graduate program in Urban Design. He was a registered architect and a GSA Peer Professional. Beside maintaining a small professional architectural practice, he was a painter of watercolors, numerous drawings, and large scale murals.

He loved teaching students and was good at it. While he didn't claim to know everything, what he knew well, he shared. An architect, painter, writer, and educator, he worked hard at his craft. Travel was important, and his time as an AFS-USA foreign exchange student in Rome and later as a Peace Corps volunteer in Tunisia exposed him to new cultures and languages that he brought to his teaching.

He is survived by his wife Linda Rowe Abbey, his son Jason James Abbey, daughter-in-law Sally (Tusa) Abbey, granddaughter Emily Spencer Abbey, and sister Faith Nichols Abbey.

In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be sent to AFS-USA (formerly the American Field Service) or The Abbey Endowment for Global Engagement at the University of Vermont, Burlington, Vermont. We can think of no better way to acknowledge how important global exposure, travel, and interaction was to Bruce's life.

A celebration of his life is being planned for October 2021 in Charlottesville, Virginia.




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Published in The Burlington Free Press from Oct. 29 to Nov. 1, 2020.
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Memories & Condolences
Guest Book sponsored by Cremation Society of Virginia - Charlottesville
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18 entries
November 29, 2020
Dear Linda, I am so sad to read about Bruce’s passing. He was such a lovely and kind soul who had such a positive influence on Syracuse University and the world. I fondly remember visiting your lovely home with Ray and listening to your travel stories. It’s the memories that make our losses bearable and keep our loved with alive. Thinking of you and feeling your sorrow. Gisela von Dran
Gisela von Dran
Friend
November 2, 2020
Linda, so sorry to hear about Bruce, he was a lovely man. Best wishes to you and your family during this trying time
Ed and Laurie Golash
Neighbor
November 2, 2020
Dear Linda,
Sorry for your loss. Thinking of you.
Joel Potash
Joel Potash
Friend
November 2, 2020
My thoughts and prayers are with you all
Jean Abbey Wrisley
November 2, 2020
I would like to express my deepest sympathy to Linda, Jason and Bruce’s extended family. I was a classmate of Bruce at Burlington High School and a fellow AFS’er. We were close friends at that time especially since we had shared life-changing experiences abroad. I was sorry not to see him at our 50th high school reunion and regret now that I never contacted him afterward. Reading about his life I see that he fulfilled much of the promise I saw in those early years and I’m sure I would have delighted in learning more about his life and interests and would have enjoyed meeting the rest of his family. I wish you solace in cherished memories of a talented and caring man.
Juliette Bundgus Avots
Classmate
November 2, 2020
To have friends is a Blessing! I have been blessed to have Linda and Bruce into my life. A gift so precious! Peace be with you !
Gloria Ferrara

Gloria Ferrara
Friend
November 2, 2020
Bruce greatly enriched our connection with Syracuse University through his kind friendship, humane outlook and action, thoughtful conversation, generous hospitality, and -- not least -- his sense of verbal fun. An altogether talented and basically nice person. We never saw as much of him, and of Linda, as we wished, diverted as we all were with work, family, travel, and just too much busyness. We have missed him since the move to Charlottesville. The announcement of his death brought a strong sense of loss.
Deirdre and David Stam
Friend
November 1, 2020
Linda, we know the pain of your loss. Pollard and I have fond memories of you and Bruce. You were not only SU colleagues but dear friends. When you moved we missed the many lunches and dinners we shared with you and Bruce, May God grant you comfort. Our thoughts and prayers are with you.
Merriette and William Pollard
Friend
November 1, 2020
So sorry to learn of Bruce's death. He had such an interesting life and impressive achievements. My condolences to you, Linda, and your family.
Charlene Sedgwick
November 1, 2020
May your hearts soon be filled with wonderful memories of joyful times. Please except my condolences.
Simone Taylor
October 31, 2020
I am very sorry to learn that Bruce has passed away. He was a generous supportive colleague and Dean to me.

We co-taught first-year undergraduate and graduate design studios together, and were on many thesis committees together over the years. I often came away from student crits marveling at Bruce’s knowledge and love of architecture and his ability to share these with students. I also marveled at his ability to discern the kernel of a promising idea lurking beneath a thicket of wrong moves. As the phrase went back in the day, the man had a great eyeball.

To this day, I remember a phrase that I heard Bruce use in advising a student how to proceed in the design process: “Keep what you know is true”. I learned many truths from Bruce, and I keep them by sharing them with my students.

I’m sure that Linda, Faith, Jason, Sally and Emily all have wonderful memories of Bruce and I hope that these are giving them comfort at this time. To all of you, my deepest condolences.
Terrance Goode
Coworker
October 31, 2020
A gentleman and a scholar, professor Abbey will be missed. It was a privilege to be his student. Receiving his criticism, full of wisdom and nuance in the craft and the arts of architecture and urban design was always welcome. My condolences to his family.
Fernando Pabón
Student
October 31, 2020
I'd like to express my condolences to Mr. Abbey's family. Professor Abbey was my primary thesis advisor in 2015 and I was very fortunate to have him while at Syracuse Architecture. Prior to my thesis year, I took his course on Le Corbusier; I was fortunate to listen to him during a few studio critiques. I worked on his exhibit and I am grateful to have learned from him directly. He had a wealth of knowledge and he graciously shared it. He was a gentleman and it was an honor having him be a part of my architectural education. I will always remember him.
Frank Fuentes
Student
October 31, 2020
Bruce was intelligent, talented and yet, extremely approachable: a truly genuine and generous person.
I met him in Florence through the Syracuse University program abroad where, over the years, he taught at the School of Architecture and I am the Coordinator of the Italian Dept.
He loved Italy and had a true passion for its culture in which he was naturally comfortable and at ease... he spoke Italian very well.
He was a dedicated professor who cared about his students and their learning experience abroad.
Outside of the academic context, we were also friends. Dinners and outings with Bruce and his lovely wife, Linda, with whom I also took a painting class, were good times spent together and those memories will always be cherished.
Addio to Bruce Abbey, an extraordinary person of great stature.
Loredana Tarini
Friend
October 30, 2020
A true gentleman, a good friend and gracious colleague. It was a pleasure to know him, walk the streets of Florence, Rome and Vicenza with him and to teach alongside him.
Bruce Coleman
Friend
October 30, 2020
Bruce inspired me when I was a student in my 20s at UVA. I was overjoyed when I realized he would be at Syracuse when I studied there 10 years later. He was a kind man and a thoughtful critic. I benefit from those lessons every day. I’m sad to hear of his passing, and hope you all can take comfort in knowing that there are hundreds, probably thousands of us out there whose work shows the benefit of his hand.
Alex Wing
Student
October 30, 2020
Dear Professor Abbey’s family,

My sincere condolences to you. Professor Abbey was a kind and thoughtful man. He was a great architect and teacher. I was his Teaching Assistant for a term in 2010 for Design when I was a graduate student in Syracuse. He was very kind to me, and mentored me not only in this role but as a student as well. I enjoyed watching him sketch over the students drawings, “Garage entrance always close to the kitchen, so it’s easy to bring the groceries in,” he said. He always spoke proudly of his son, who was also an architect. He gifted me a book “10 things I learned at Architecture school” as a goodbye present which I still have and my children browse through now. I was often thinking of reaching out to say hello to him, I wish I had sooner.

My condolences again to you, and will always remember this great man who felt like a father to me I a town where I had no family.

All best

Eileen Allaverdian
Eileen
Student
October 30, 2020
Dear Linda and family. I would like to extend my condolences. I know I met you both over the years but more recently I had a long conversation with Bruce regarding Grandpa Abbey and baseball. My mother saved several of your watercolors Linda and I admire them when I see them.

Your cousin Katie Royce Quinn
Katie Royce Quinn
Family
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