Joseph H. Abbott, 85
Husband of the late Jean Abigail Gadwah Abbott, he was born in Providence, on July 3,
1923, to the late
Thomas A. Abbott and Catherine Jane Mohan.
He grew up in the South Providence and Olneyville neighborhoods of Providence during the Great Depression, the son of an Irish immigrant mother whose husband died from illness when her four children were still young. He graduated from Central High School and, in 1943, enlisted in the United States Navy.
He served with distinction throughout World War II on board the USS Dortch, a destroyer, which was instrumental in more than 30 operations in the Pacific Theatre, including the first and second battles of the Philippine Sea and the invasion of Okinawa. By the time of his honorable discharge in November 1945, he had received the World War II Victory Medal, the American Theatre Medal, the Asiatic-Pacific Theatre Medal and the Philippine Liberation Medal. In the Navy, Joe earned a rate as a skilled craftsman, working to keep the ship mechanically able to perform its mission. He was also a member of the ship's swim rescue team that went out in a small boat to pick up downed aircraft crew.
His Navy years formed an important part of his life. He was proud of his military service, but he abhorred war and violence of any kind and never glorified the sacrifices he made for his country.
Upon his return to Providence, he wed Jean Abigail Gadwah and they had four daughters. Mr. Abbott used his skills as a metal-smith to found his own heating and air conditioning business, which he ran successfully in Providence until his retirement approximately 15 years ago.
He was a devout Catholic, who attended St. Paul's Church in Cranston and, in later years, St. Francis of Assisi Church in South Kingstown. Together with his wife, Jean, he was involved in social justice issues in the 1960s and 1970s, including efforts on behalf of migrant farm workers and the civil rights work of Dr. Martin Luther King and local community leaders. He was also involved in efforts to give the laity more of a role in the Catholic Church and found great spiritual nourishment in the Cursillo Movement.
He is survived by his daughters, Mary Jane Murphy of Jamestown, Shelia Abbott-Brogna of Wakefield, Kathleen Abbott Myers of Cranston, and Elizabeth Abbott of Wakefield, six grandchildren, three greatgrandchildren and numerous nieces and nephews. His siblings, Vincent, Veronica and Adeline, predeceased him.
A funeral mass was celebrated on Feb. 21, at Saint Francis of Assisi Church in Wakefield. The concelebrants included Joe's nephew, and two other priests who were Joe's close friends.