Tom Abraham

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Thomas H. "Tom" Abraham
Political party Republican

Born December 8, 1910
Kafarakab, Lebanon
Died February 8, 2007
Canadian, Hemphill County
Texas
Spouse Helen Ferguson Abraham (married 1935-2007, his death)
Religion Presbyterian

Thomas H. Abraham, known as Tom Abraham (December 8, 1910 – February 8, 2007),[1] was a Lebanese-born American businessman and philanthropist in the city of Canadian in Hemphill County, Texas. Canadian has been called "an oasis on the High Plains" of the Texas Panhandle.

Abraham was born in Kafarakab, Lebanon, to Nahim Malouf Abraham (1885-1965) and Alia Abdullah Bulos Malouf Abraham (1883-1969). He was reared in Canadian, at which he arrived with his parents and older brother in 1913, five years after Canadian was incorporated.[2] Nahim and Alia Abraham insisted that their children remember the family roots in Lebanon, which they continued to visit when possible. The couple sent money to help poor relatives in Lebanon or to build a community church or school there.[3] In 1928, Tom Abraham graduated from Canadian High School.[4][5]

Abraham family and Tech University

In 1932, Abraham graduated from Texas Tech University in Lubbock, at which he played on the Texas Tech Red Raiders college football team and was the business manager of The Daily Toreador, the college student newspaper. He helped to launch the Texas Tech Red Raiders Club and was part of the commission which created the Texas Tech Dad's Association, since renamed the Texas Tech Association of Parents. At the time of his death, Abraham was believed to have been the oldest living Texas Tech letterman.[4][5] In 1981, both Tom and Malouf Abraham were named "Distinguished Alumni" of Texas Tech. Tom Abraham was the first Texas Tech graduate to have received a Bachelor of Business Administration degree from the institution. In 1981, a $5,000 annual scholarship was established in his honor by his brother, Malouf Abraham, Sr. (1915-1994), and sister-in-law, Iris Lewis Abraham (1918-2001).[6] The Tom Abraham Graduate Fellowship began with a $65,000 initial donation. More than a dozen of the Hemphill County Abrahams attended or graduated from Texas Tech, as did Tom Abraham's two daughters and son.[3]

Tom Abraham believes in America. He believes that man's duty is to leave the world better than he found it. During all his life, he has been active in civic affairs, to the betterment of his community and the nation. - Freedoms Foundation, Valley Forge, Pennsylvania, 1980

Merchant, father and son

After graduation from Texas Tech, Abraham worked in the dry goods business in Paducah in Cottle County south of Childress, Texas.[7] On April 28, 1935, he married his neighbor, the former Helen Ferguson (August 7, 1915 – February 11, 2008). A native of Merkel near Abilene in Taylor County, Texas, Helen was the daughter of Frank Ferguson and the former Maude Hill.[8] After their marriage, Tom and Helen moved to Canadian to work in his father's department store, "The Fair Store", a business which opened in 1913, only five years after Canadian was incorporated, and was once known throughout the Panhandle for its high-quality merchandise. After Nahim retired, Tom and Helen became the owners of the business in 1949.[9] Tom Abraham also held three oil and natural gas leases in adjoining Lipscomb County in the far northeastern corner of the Panhandle.[10] His brother, Malouf, Sr., held oil and gas leases in all the Panhandle counties bordering Oklahoma.

Edward Abraham Memorial Home

The Abrahams together established the Edward Abraham Memorial Home,[4] a nursing facility in Canadian, which is named for the youngest of the Abraham sons, businessman Edward Abraham (1917-1961).[11] When he died suddenly of a heart attack at the age of forty-four, Edward Abraham, who had been in the jewelry, restaurant, and real estate businesses in Canadian,[12] had been working to establish a community-sponsored nursing home. With a $50,000 initial contribution from the Abraham family,[13] a federal grant, and other funds raised by the community, the facility opened in 1964 with thirty-seven beds; by 1974, the capacity had increased to care for fifty-eight persons.[14]

In 1975, the home had financial problems, a matter believed related to inflation and the failure of the Abrahams to seek community donations: "I think we've been a little to bashful about asking for help," said Tom Abraham.[15] In June 1975, Tom Abraham, representing his family, was honored in Houston by the Texas Association of Homes for the Aging for the Abraham family's commitment to the Edward Abraham Home.[16]

Organizations

Tom Abraham was a member of Rotary International,[17] the Masonic lodge,[4]Shriners,[18]United Way of America,[19] the March of Dimes,[20] the Boy Scouts of America[21] and the youth-mentoring group, Big Brothers Big Sisters of America.[22] was a volunteer at the River Valley Pioneer Museum, established in Canadian in 1986.[23] He was the auctioneer for the Women Service League.[24] The Abraham Trophy, which was frequently presented by Tom Abraham, is awarded annually to the "most outstanding" eighth grade student in Canadian.[25]

Abraham received "Man of the Year"[4] designation from the Canadian-Hemphill County Chamber of Commerce and served as president more than once[26][27] and on committees of the organization, such as Highways and Lake Marvin, an artificial lake in Hemphill County established for recreation, flood control, soil conservation, wildlife protection.[28][29] In 1979, Abraham was presented the "Key to the City" award by then Mayor George Arrington.[30]

Tom Abraham was a member of the Hemphill County Appraisal Board, established effective January 1, 1982. The board determines uniform property tax assessment rates for all taxing bodies in the county.[31]

Abraham was a superintendent of worship[32] and later instrumental in building the original sanctuary of his church, the First Presbyterian Church in Canadian.[4]

Patriotic honors

During World War II, Tom Abraham was co-chairman of the United War Chest in Hemphill County.[33] Years later, he received the Americanism Award from the Daughters of the American Revolution, an honor given only to immigrants who helped other immigrants obtain United States citizenship.[34][35] In 1976, he chaired the Hemphill County Bicentennial Commission.[36][37] In 1979, then Canadian Mayor George Arrington presented Abraham with the "Key to the City".[38]

In February 1980, Abraham received the "Encased George Washington Honor Medal" from Freedoms Foundation in Valley Forge, Pennsylvania.[39] He received a telegram two months earlier on the same day of his mother's funeral notifying him of his selection.[40] Abraham's citation reads: "Tom Abraham believes in America. He believes that man's duty is to leave the world better than he found it. During all his life, he has been active in civic affairs, to the betterment of his community and the nation." Honored along with Abraham were U.S. Senator Jake Garn of Utah, former actress and U.S. Ambassador Shirley Temple Black, actor James Stewart, and singer John Denver.[41]

The Republican Abrahams

Abraham's, brother Malouf Abraham, Sr., named for the original family surname, was a wealthy oil and natural gas developer and philanthropist who was mayor of Canadian from 1953 to 1957, and a Republican member of the Texas House of Representatives from 1967 to 1971. His nephew Malouf Abraham, Jr., is a retired Canadian, Texas, physician with specialty in allergies and an active patron of the arts. His niece by marriage, Therese Browne Abraham, was mayor of Canadian from 1981[42] to 1991. All of the Abrahams became Republicans and were generous donors to the party.[43]

In 1953, Tom Abraham attended a dinner in Pampa in which Republican U.S. Representative Walter Judd of Minnesota addressed post-Korean War foreign policy issues during the Cold War.[44] In 1976, Abraham was the Hemphill County chairman for Ronald Reagan's insurgent intraparty challenge to U.S. President Gerald R. Ford, Jr.[45] In 1978, Abraham was elected in a write-in vote to succeed Royce Jones as the Hemphill County Republican chairman.[46] In 1980, he was the Hemphill County chairman for the Reagan-Bush ticket.[47]

Tom Abraham's death and legacy

Tom Abraham died of lengthy complications from a stroke in the Hemphill County Hospital in Canadian. In addition to his wife, he was survived by three children, Donna A. Stainback of Greenville, Texas, Kenneth "Ken" Abraham and his wife, Renee Abraham, of Lubbock, and Kay A. Brown and her husband, Terry Brown, of Canadian; nine grandchildren, and seventeen great-grandchildren. He was preceded in death by his parents, all three brothers, and a son-in-law, Raiford Hammond Stainback, Jr.[4]

Two of Abraham's minister-granddaughters, Ashley A. Hood and Kari Stainback, officiated at his funeral, which was held in the First Christian Church of Canadian. Tom and Helen Abraham are interred in the Edith Ford Cemeteries in Canadian.[4] Abraham family gravestones mention their origin in Kafarakab but the spelling used is "Kafrakab", without the "a" after the "f." The Texas State Historical Association in an article on Nahim Abraham also uses "Kafrakab".[48]

Tom Abraham's obituary reads that he was known for his kindness to others.[4] He was included in the group "Seven Who Care" from KVII-TV in Amarillo. In 1992, the Amarillo Globe News in a feature article referred to him, accordingly: "Santa Claus is alive and giving in Canadian."[1] The Canadian Record reported at Christmas 1960 that the Abrahams had placed a giant Santa Claus in their front yard.[49]

In the 1985 book Hemphill County History, Abraham describes his fellow citizens of Canadian as having pride, purpose, and determination: "I know Canadian folks - they just don't give up."[2]

On February 9, 2006, a year before his death, Abraham was interviewed by the Southwest Collection at Texas Tech University. In this oral history conducted by David Marshall, Abraham discusses his life, career, and education at Texas Tech.[50][51][52]

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 Thomas H. "Tom" Abraham. findagrave.com. Retrieved on September 19, 2014.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Living in Canadian. canadiantx.org. Retrieved on September 21, 2014.
  3. 3.0 3.1 "Three Generations of Abrahams Attend Texas Tech", Texas Tech Business, Winter 1984, pp. 14-15.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 4.5 4.6 4.7 4.8 Tom Abraham. Lubbock Avalanche-Journal (February 9, 2007). Retrieved on September 19, 2014.
  5. 5.0 5.1 Tom Abraham, Merchant. River Valley Pioneer Museum. Retrieved on September 21, 2014.
  6. "Abraham Brothers Honored by Texas Tech", Canadian Record, September 24, 1981, p. 14.
  7. Ana Krahmer (May 20, 2014). An Historical Preservation Effort That Will Live in Perpetuity. The Paducah (Texas) Post. Retrieved on September 22, 2014.
  8. Helen Abraham. Lubbock Avalanche-Journal (February 15, 2008). Retrieved on September 19, 2014.
  9. Nahim Abraham (1885-1965). findagrave.com. Retrieved on September 20, 2014.
  10. Oil and Gas Leases in Lipscomb County. texas-drilling.com. Retrieved on September 21, 2014.
  11. Edward Abraham. findagrave.com. Retrieved on September 20, 2014.
  12. "Eddie Abraham victim of heart attack Tuesday", Canadian Record, October 26, 1961, pp. 1, 9.
  13. "$50,000 given for rest home: Abraham family invites community to match gifts", Canadian Record, December 16, 1961, p. 4.
  14. About Us - Edward Abraham Memorial Home. eamemorialhome.org. Retrieved on September 21, 2014.
  15. "Inflation and slow pay: Memorial Home in financial bind", Canadian Record, January 16, 1975, p. 16.
  16. "Abraham family cited", Canadian Record, June 26, 1975, p. 14.
  17. "Career clinic draws top faculty", Canadian Record, May 3, 1962, p. 19.
  18. "Shriners enjoy banquet here Friday evening", Hemphill County News, February 24, 1953, p. 1.
  19. "Hemphill United Fund Goal", October 9, 1980, Canadian Record, p. 24.
  20. "President's Ball", Hemphill County News, January 30, 1942, p. 4.
  21. "Boy Scouts reorganize", Hemphill County News, June 9, 1939, p. 1.
  22. Canadian Record, September 26, 1956, p. 1.
  23. Susan Owens Caudle and River Valley Pioneer Museum (21009). Images of America: Hemphill County. Charleston, South Carolina: Arcadia Publishing Company, 112. ISBN 9780738571133. Retrieved on September 21, 2014. 
  24. "Women's Service League", Canadian Record, May 4, 1978, p. 24.
  25. "Junior High graduation Thursday", Canadian Record, May 27, 1976, p. 8.
  26. "Junior Livestock Show Saturday: 4-H Club and FFA Boys to compete", Canadian Record, January 6, 1955, p. 1.
  27. "Annual C of C Banquet Saturday night", Canadian Record, January 16, 1975, p. 4.
  28. "Chamber of Commerce committees are appointed for year 1960", Canadian Record, December 31, 1959, p. 1.
  29. Lake Marvin. tshaonline.org. Retrieved on September 28, 2014.
  30. Canadian Record, May 10, 1979, p. 15.
  31. "Five men elected to new appraisal board", Canadian Record, November 26, 1981, p. 12.
  32. "Presbyterian Church", Hemphill County News, February 9, 1940, p. 4
  33. Hemphill County News, October 15, 1943, p. 1.
  34. "DAR gives medal to Tom Abraham", Canadian Record, May 10, 1979, p. 14.
  35. County Data for Hemphill County, Texas. landsoftexas.com. Retrieved on September 25, 2014.
  36. "Standing ovation for Bicentennial Special by crowd of over 300", Canadian Record, April 15, 1976, p. 15.
  37. "Bells will ring here on Fourth of July", Canadian Record, July 1, 1976, p. 4.
  38. "Mayor George Arrington presents the symbolic 'Key to the City' to Tom Abraham", Canadian Record, May 10, 1979, p. 15.
  39. "Tom Abraham accepts Encased George Washington Honor Medal", Canadian Record, February 28, 1980, p. 21.
  40. "Tom Abraham to receive Freedoms Foundation award, Canadian Record, December 6, 1979, pp. 1, 17.
  41. "Tom Abraham to be honored by Freedoms Foundation Feb. 22", Canadian Record, February 14, 1980, p. 19.
  42. "City elects first woman mayor", Canadian Record, April 9, 1981, p. 6.
  43. CANADIAN, Texas (TX) Political Contributions by Individuals. city-data.com. Retrieved on September 19, 2014.
  44. "Knife and Fork Club", Hemphill County News, September 24, 1953, p. 1.
  45. "Support a Real Leader" (advertisement), Canadian Record, April 29, 1976, p. 19.
  46. "Only 24 Republican casts in primary" in Hemphill County, Canadian Record, May 11, 1978, p. 11.
  47. Reagan-Bush advertisement, Canadian Record, October 9, 1980, p. 13.
  48. Nahim Abraham. tshaonline.org. Retrieved on September 20, 2014.
  49. Nancy Ezzell, "Many Canadian homes reflect Christmas spirit in bright lights", Canadian Record, December 22, 1960, p. 5.
  50. Tom Abraham Oral History Interview. Southwest Collections of Texas Tech University. Retrieved on September 21, 2014.
  51. Further information on Tom Abraham can be accessed through The Portal to Texas History, which will connect with newspaper articles, particularly the Canadian Record and the Hemphill County News.
  52. Abraham The Portal to Texas History: Tom Abraham. texashistoryunt.edu. Retrieved on September 23, 2014.