More than 200 friends, family and community members gathered at the War Memorial Building on Saturday to celebrate the life of South Pasadena resident Paul Abbey.
Abbey died on Sept. 27 due to heart complications at age 66. An active member of the community, he was a longtime volunteer for the South Pasadena Tournament of Roses Committee and also was involved in the South Pasadena High School Boosters, Tiger Bingo, Kiwanis Club and Chamber of Commerce.
“Whenever Paul talked about what he might want when he was gone, he would just say to have a party,” Cathy Abbey, Paul’s wife of 29 years, told the Review a few days after Saturday’s memorial.
“So we did. I want to thank everybody in the community who came to remember him and the float committee — primarily Janet Benjamin and Sandy Fielding, who were kind and generous enough to put everything together for us.”
Fielding, treasurer for the SPTOR, recalled Abbey being an integral part of the organization who was always willing to lend a helping hand to those who needed it.
“Paul was always willing to step in,” Fielding said. “If there was something going on, he was always willing to help. He always gave 100 percent and he was such a sweet guy.’’
Benjamin added, “Paul was a huge part of our team. He filled many different roles and there was a lot that he did behind the scenes. At our last meeting, SPTOR President Courtney Dunlap said Paul was the glue that held us together. He was very calm and a dad figure to many. If something would go wrong or one of us needed advice, Paul was always that person.”
During the celebration of Abbey’s life, guests sat together at tables and shared stories and memories over food and drink. In addition to a PowerPoint presentation, there was a set-up in the lobby that represented Abbey’s station, where he did the welding on the float.
“We learned how to weld together — I was a better welder than him,” Abbey’s daughter Amber shared. “We are going to miss him so much. I’m so glad he chose to be my dad and raise me as his only daughter. I’m glad he got to meet his grandchildren. I’m grateful he told me I could do anything I put my mind to and I’m so grateful he was in my life.”
In addition to his own three children, Abbey was seen by many others as a father figure, including Chris Colburn, who is the former construction chair and president of SPTOR.
“When I came back to work on the float committee 10 years ago, Paul was one of the first people to welcome me back and was like a second father to me in the organization,” Colburn said.
“There’s not enough nice stuff I can say about him. Paul was very supportive, involved and task-oriented. You’d give him something to do and he’d go to town and knock it out of the park every time. He was definitely someone you needed in your corner. He did a lot for the organization, and his loss is going to be felt throughout the entire committee.”
Throughout the entire day, the War Memorial Building was packed with people from different organizations within the city who came to pay their respects and share memories with one another about Abbey.
“It was amazing to see how many people were touched by Paul,” Benjamin said. “We were very happy with the turnout. It was a great tribute to him.”