Paul Abbey was the type of person, remembers Alan Vlacich, “who took the bull by the horns and got things done,” he said, remembering all the good the man did before suffering a massive heart attack last week.
Abbey was a major contributor to a number of organizations in South Pasadena, most heavily connected to the city float entry in the Rose Parade on New Year’s Day and Tiger Bingo at the local high school over the years.
Owner of Abbey Graphics in Arcadia, Abbey generously “did a lot of stuff,” especially with the South Pasadena Tournament of Roses annual Golf Tournament, where he printed the sponsorship signs that dotted the tee boxes and flyers promoting the event just for starters.
If something needed printing, Abbey was the guy many in town called on because he was dependable, on time and turned out quality work.
A tribute, simply called a “Celebration,” according to SPTOR Decoration Chair Janet Benjamin, will be held on October 19 for Abbey at the War Memorial Building, from 2 to 6 p.m., in South Pasadena.
Those in attendance at the local float committee’s meeting this week at South Pasadena City Hall spoke of Abbey’s love of the city’s float that rolled down Colorado Boulevard in Pasadena each January.
Courtney Dunlap, the president of the SPTOR, said Abbey, a past president of the organization, “was our glue,” noting that he did most everything at one time during his involvement with the organization. “It was very rare for him to miss an event.”
He was at the organization’s golf tournament, annual classic car show, Crunch Time Party, a dinner and auction fundraiser in late December, photo day, test runs for the float up-and-down Fair Oaks Boulevard.
Dunlap encouraged her fellow SPTOR board members to “be like Paul” and attend every “event that we possibly can,” adding that it is important to come to the float site behind the War Memorial Building on Saturday or weeknights to work on the city entry.
Sandy Felding, who serves on the SPTOR, suggested tying a giant wreath to a ladder used by Abbey and others on the construction crew responsible for building the city’s float every year “and putting his (welding) helmet on top,” she said, catching herself from crying. “I just think that would be a nice tribute.”
Abbey showed humility, warmth and help, especially for those struggling with something when it came to working on the float. “There was always that little comment, ‘If you try it this way, turn this up and turn that down, you might have a little more success with it.’ And sure enough he was always right.
Joss Rodgers, the committee’s construction chair, said Abbey’s “humility was something that so endeared all of us. He never acted like he had the right solution. So much of what we do (on the float) is solving problems everyday. He would offer a suggestion, then he would ask what do you think, come up with a suggestion, and then like your idea better. He was never stuck to, ‘We have to do that way because that’s the way we’ve always done it.’”
Benjamin, agreeing with Dunlap, added, “He really was our glue. He meant so much to all of us, did so much and will be deeply missed. It’s really hard.”