On August 30, 1960, it was my sad duty to officiate at the funeral rites of a great friend and faithful citizen, Percy Abbott. The sermon which was preached on that occasion is here reproduced as a tribute to his life and work: The Rev. Donald E. Bodley
Words are poor tools with which to fashion the appreciation which all our hearts would like to express today. To speak abstractly of a man who lived intimately with us and who gave much of his life to some of us presents a problem of baffling proportions. In one way or another, we have all known the man, Percy Abbott and to each of us, in varying degrees and in diverse ways, a little bit of himself has been imparted to us.
I suppose the question comes to all our minds at one time or another: What are we put here on earth for? What are we to do? How is our life to be lived? What is the contribution we are expected to make?.. .and each one of us in our own way and experience makes an answer consistent with what we believe about the basic purpose of life. Some spend countless years and hundreds of pages of writing in defining the meaning of life and its ultimate purpose. Others, only a moment and a few words. Not because the people of few words are careless with life; but because life to them has a peculiarly clear direction and channel to it and the only logical thing to do is to pursue it with energy and zest.
The writer of the book of Proverbs put it most succinctly when he penned: “The spirit of man is the candle of the Lord.” This simple thought of the writer of Proverbs suggests what I want to say about Percy Abbott this morning – and perhaps your experience will attest with mine, that Percy was a man who was like a mighty fire – willing to ignite all with his energy and zest – willing to share his light with all who would come close to it.
His light has been seen by and ignited many; as a husband, a father, a business associate, a community servant, a tutor, a confident, a warm and generous friend. I remember well my first contact with Percy Abbott. I came to Colon to see if I could purchase a “Crazy Mummy” for a cousin of mine whose partially paralyzed hands from a siege of Polio got exercise and enjoyment from trying to manipulate the “Mummy”. On that visit I met Percy, and some way, somehow, I caught his fire.
This I’m certain, is the story of many of us who are here today to pay him tribute. His willing and generous giving of himself, his skill, his talent, has lighted a light in our lives that cannot be extinguished. Many of us here must say, “It was with him I got my start.” – “Through him my show picked up.” – “He helped keep me going.” – “He gave me the breaks.”
“Greater love hath no man than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.”
Words are poor tools with which to fashion the appreciation which all our hearts would like to express today … in one way or another, we have all known, and in our own way loved, Percy Abbott, the man. And to each one of us in varying degrees and in diverse ways, a little bit of himself has been imparted to us … I know! Because some of his light lives in me!
“Yet love will dream, and Faith will trust,
(Since he who knows our need is just.)
That somehow, somewhere, meet we must.”