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In memoriam: Paul Abbe

Paul Abbe
Paul Abbe, surrounded by his daughters, Crystal and Heather.

My favorite story about my father-in-law, Paul Abbe, who passed away, surrounded by family, on Saturday in Lynchburg, is from my birthday, in 2009.

We were in OBX on a family vacation, and the night of my birthday, Paul insisted on taking me out to the local Hooter’s for a beer.

It was a quiet mid-week night at the Hooter’s. Accompanied by my brother-in-law, John, we had our meals, and it was time for the check.

Paul wasn’t done.

“Say, why don’t you go back in the back, get some of those other young ladies back there together, and you all come out and wish this young man here a happy birthday?” he asked our waitress.

After “Happy Birthday,” he then had me pose for photos with the group.

Paul was 74. He had a cardiac event on Thursday while at a stop at one of his favorite places in the world, a shooting range down in Rockbridge County, with one of his favorite people in the world, his grandson, Brady.

They’d planned the trip back at Thanksgiving as we gathered ‘round the TV to watch football. Paul was talking about buying Brady a membership to the shooting range, had all kinds of plans to that effect, from the sound of it.

Brady is a hero in this story, incidentally. A lifeguard the past few summers, he performed CPR on Paul to help keep him alive as the rescue squad made its way to the scene.

Though Paul wouldn’t ultimately pull through, the extra couple of days from the CPR gave family time to be able to come in from all over – his sisters from Minnesota and Pennsylvania, in addition to the folks from up and down the Valley – to be at his bedside for his final moments.

Brady’s 19 now. Among my memories of Christmas Past are those involving gift exchanges with Brady and his sister, Carly, with Barbie houses and Thomas the Train sets.

Man, time flies.

Another favorite memory of Paul Abbe is from Waynesboro Generals baseball. My wife, Crystal, and I helped run the team for several years, years ago, and Paul and his wife, Becca, found themselves hooked, making their way to games most summer nights, going on long road trips during our playoff runs in 2013 and 2014.

At home games at Kate Collins Field, Paul would set their lawn chairs right behind home plate. He wanted the best seats in the house.

One night, Crystal noticed him sipping from a cider – a hard cider.

“Dad, you can’t drink that here,” she nudged him.

“Why? It’s just apple cider,” he replied.

The fridge in the garage, next to the antique truck, was always stocked with Bold Rocks.

This one’s for you, Paul. Thanks for letting me marry your daughter. She’s the best thing to ever happen to me, so you and Peggy must have done something right.

Story by Chris Graham

augusta free press
augusta free press