Joe Abbey

Joe Abbey

DENTON, Texas – Joe Reed Abbey of Denton, Texas, formerly of Champaign, passed away on Thursday (March 6, 2014). Born in Denton on March 21, 1925, he was one of 10 children born to Roy Abbey and Lillie Dustin Abbey.

He graduated from Denton High School in 1942. He began his college career at the University of Texas. Soon after enrolling, he was drafted into the Army and fought in the Philippines during World War II.

After the war ended, he returned home and enrolled at the University of North Texas. He was a standout athlete, lettering in both football and basketball. He was selected to the All-Lone Star Conference football squad, and played a role in North Texas capturing the Lone Star Conference title in 1947.

Also, while playing for North Texas, the football team went to the initial Salad Bowl, which is now the Fiesta Bowl, in Phoenix in 1948. After two years at North Texas, he went on to play in the NFL for the Chicago Bears in 1948-1949. After two seasons with the Bears, he returned home to finish his education.

He graduated from the University of North Texas with his bachelor's and master's degrees in physical education. He began a long career of teaching and coaching that spanned over 35 years. While coaching at Tarleton State University in Stephenville, Texas, he met Alice McLean, who was working at the college. After marrying in 1953, they moved to California, where Joe became an athletic director in both Fontana and Chico unified school districts.

In 1967, he and his family moved to Champaign, where he became the first-ever athletic director for Parkland College. He stayed at Parkland for 21 years, retiring in 1988. He belonged to the National Athletic Directors Association and was inducted in the National Athletic Directors Hall of Fame in 1988. He was inducted into the University of North Texas Athletic Hall of Fame in 2001.

He was preceded in death by his wife of 42 years, Alice McLean Abbey.

He is survived by his son, Joe R. Abbey Jr. "Pete" of Denton, Texas; two daughters, Marianne Abbey-Smith (Campbell) of Champaign and Melinda Poag (John) of Senatobia, Miss.; five grandsons, Morgan Smith, Collin Smith, Brandon Smith, Evan Poag and William Poag; and two sisters, Dorothy White of Scottsdale, Ariz., and Peggy Browne of Denton, Texas.

Visitation will be held at 3 p.m. Sunday, March 9, at DeBerry Funeral Home in Denton, Texas. The funeral will be held at 1 p.m. Monday, March 10, also at DeBerry Funeral Home. Memorials may be made to the National Kidney Foundation or the charity of your choice.

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Chris Buttitta wrote on March 08, 2014 at 9:03 am

Joe and my Dad "Red" Buttitta were good friends for many years. After Joe and his family moved back to Texas they kept in touch. My thoughts go out to Pete and the rest of his family, Joe was a fine man and a great friend to my Dad.

Chris Buttitta
New Bern, NC

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