Tributes flood in for ‘true Ottregian’ Tony Abbott
A MUCH-LOVED legend of Ottery bravely accepted news he had just months to live with a courageous smile on his face - then cherished his last days with loved-ones.
Tributes have been paid to Tony Abbott, 60, who died last Friday (June 27), writes Stefan Gordon.
The “fantastic” dad-of-three, proud grandfather, and DIY store founder - born in Ottery - spent his final weeks in hospital in the town he had served as a dedicated councillor for more than a decade.
His funeral takes place at the parish church at 3pm today (Friday).
Tony, of Ridgeway, was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumour in February.
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He retired from his hardware business immediately so he could make the most of his remaining time with his family.
His wife, Viv, said: “Tony was quite incredible. He accepted the illness right through and never moaned about it.
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“He faced it head on all the way and was always happiest with his family around him. He was a people person and loved working in the shop. He was really passionate about the town and helping make it a better place.”
“He fought for as long as he could,” said Tony’s son, Chris, 33.
“He still had a smile on his face which was fantastic. It didn’t get him down at all. He had a terrific amount of fight and courage about him.
“Dad was a true Ottregian. He wanted to spend his last days in Ottery and the hospital staff were absolutely terrific.
“He died a councillor. I think he wanted to pass away as one.”
Tony was born in Jesu Street in a room above what became a shop that would one day see his Abbotts DIY business named the UK’s top hardware retailer.
Tony’s sons Chris and Jeff hope to carry on his legacy by continuing his hard work.
“They are big shoes for us to fill,” said Jeff, 28,
“From a young age, we’ve been dad’s apprentices.”
Tony’s lifelong best friend, John Coles, 60, said: “He’s been like a brother to me. Ottery will never be the same again. It is part of the town that is gone.
“I’ll never replace him. You just don’t get lifelong friends like that.”
The Abbott family issued a heart-felt thank-you to “wonderful” Ottery hospital and expressed their gratitude to all those who have given them comforting messages of support.
“It’s been quite humbling and we really are so appreciative,” said Viv.
“From a son’s point of view, it makes me incredibly proud,” added Chris.