MORRISON – Edward Theodore Abbott was born Jan. 9, 1930, in Sterling, the second son of Louis Asa and Eunice Pingel Abbott of rural Morrison. He lived on the family farm for nearly 86 years, and was its fifth-generation owner-operator.
Ed died Monday, Aug. 21, 2017, at Resthave Home in Morrison.
Ed was educated at the Cottonwood country school, Morrison High School, and graduated in 1952 with a Bachelor’s of Science in agriculture from the University of Illinois. After serving in the Army during the Korean War, he married Dorothy M. Behrens of Rock Falls on Feb. 6, 1955, and they established their home on the family farm.
County fairs were of great interest to Ed, and he showed purebred Hereford cattle at fairs across northern Illinois from 1947 to 1977. Herefords were on the Abbott farm for 100 years, from 1909 to 2009. Ed was associated with the Whiteside County Fair since the early 1960s, when he began service on the fair board as beef superintendent. He later served as treasurer and publicity manager. After he left the fair board in 1995, he continued his involvement with the fair by providing daily “barn tours” during the fair that highlighted the history of the round barn on the fairgrounds and the livestock competition at the fair. In 2006, the Abbott Family was named “Friend of the Fair,” recognizing the three generations that actively supported the fair, including Ed’s mother, who was superintendent of the agricultural and floriculture departments for several years, and his own family, who ran the press room while he was publicity manager.
Ed’s devotion to county fairs extended to the state level, where he served as secretary of the Illinois Association of Agricultural Fairs (IAAF) from 1986 to 1999. In that capacity, he was in charge of organizing the annual meeting, a multi-day event in Springfield, and communicating with members via a monthly newsletter, “Tent Talk.” The newsletter won top honors at the national level in 1986, 1987, 1988 and 1997. He also was elected to national office as director of the International Agricultural Fairs & Expositions (IAFE) for a 2-year term in 1986. During his association with IAAF, Ed and Dorothy visited every county fair in Illinois.
Other groups with which he was involved include: Henry County Hereford Association, Illinois Hereford Association, Union Grove Sod Busters 4-H Club (member and leader), Morrison Community High School (MCHS) School Board, Cottonwood Cemetery Association (Morrison), Morrison Rotary Club, Morrison Historical Society, and Spring Valley Presbyterian Church.
An accomplished pianist, Ed enjoyed entertaining at the piano since he was a teenager. His talents were featured in “House by the Side of the Road,” a documentary film about the Abbott farm produced in 2012 by Pines Publishing, Inc.
Ed is survived by his two daughters, Susan (Jerry) Gidel of Chicago and Jan (Brett) Landow of Louisville, Kentucky; and brother, William of Fulton.
He was preceded in death by his wife and parents, all of Morrison.
Services include a visitation from 2 to 7 p.m. Friday at Bosma-Renkes Funeral Home, 404 Lincolnway East in Morrison. Another visitation will be from 1 to 1:30 p.m. Saturday, and the funeral at 1:30 p.m. Saturday at the funeral home, with burial following at Cottonwood Cemetery.
Memorials may be made to Whiteside County Fair, P.O. Box 88, Morrison, IL 61270.
Visit bosmarenkes.com to send condolences.