Our History

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Our History

The Abbett family is proud of our long history of community and military service.  Dating back one hundred years, my grandfather, Cecil Abbett served our country in WWI.  After his service, Cecil accepted a position at Investors Syndicate (later renamed Investors Diversified Services and then purchased by American Express) eventually becoming the Western Regional Manager. His work and investment at IDS is, in large part, the source of the funding that established the Abbett Family Foundation.

During WWII Cecil’s wife Maryan Abbett and son Wheeler Abbett both served our country.  Maryan was a member of the American Women’s Voluntary Service and Wheeler graduated from the Merchant Marine Academy at Kings Point.  At the age of 21 Wheeler served aboard a number of different Merchant ships. He was at the invasion of Normandy, American run at Murmansk, the run on Italy, and in the Pacific as well. Several of the ships he served on were torpedoed by Nazi U-boats, or bombed. In one instance he was very lucky to survive 12 days stranded on a life raft, in the frigid North Atlantic, with a mere 2 days ration.

In later years, Wheeler and his wife Charlyne continued the family’s pledge to service.  In Long Beach, CA. he was vice chairman of the committee redeveloping the downtown area and served on the board of directors of the YMCA.  At that time, Charlyne was also very active in the civic efforts of the Long Beach City Council.

In 1989, they moved to Marana, AZ. and continued their public investment. He was on the Planning and Zoning Commission for nine years and chairman for five. Charlyne was appointed by the Board of Supervisors to the Pima County Merit Commission and was a member of the women’s service organization Altrusa International.  Before his passing in early 2010 the Abbett’s donated to help Pima County to build a public library in Marana, the “Wheeler Taft Abbett Sr. Library”, which opened in 2008. In addition, they also established a nursing scholarship at Pima Community College and gave regularly to many local charities.

It was the wish of both Wheeler and Charlyne to establish a charitable organization to continue the family commitment to community service.  As children and grandchildren we honor the memory of passed family in the establishment of the Abbett Family Foundation.  With love and gratitude we will preserve the legacy entrusted to us.


Jeffrey C. Abbett