|Malouf Abraham, Sr.|
Texas State Representative for
Panhandle District 84
(later District 79; now District 88)
1967 – 1971
|Preceded by||Fritz Thompson (District 86)|
|Succeeded by||Phil Cates (District 79)|
Mayor of Hemphill County, Texas
1953 – 1957
|Preceded by||Jess Lindley|
|Succeeded by||L. B. "Curly" Owens|
|Born|| July 26, 1915|
Canadian, Hemphill County
|Died|| May 30, 1994 (aged 78)|
|Spouse(s)||Iris Lewis Abraham |
|Children|| Malouf Abraham, Jr.
Betty Abraham Cooper
|Occupation||Oil and natural gas industrialist; Philanthropist|
Abraham was a self-made Texas multi-millionaire in the oil and natural gas business and a Republican political leader and a civic figure from the small city of Canadian in Hemphill County in the northeastern Texas Panhandle. He made his fortune in part by leasing mineral rights throughout the eastern Panhandle adjacent to Oklahoma. From 1967 to 1971, he represented a Panhandle district in the Texas House of Representatives.
Abraham was the son of Nahim Abraham and Alia Abraham (1885-1979), resourceful immigrants from the village of Kafarakab in Lebanon who came to the United States through Ellis Island in New York City. The senior Abrahams first lived in Amarillo but then launched in 1913 a department store called the "Fair Store" in Canadian. They lived frugally in the back of the store until 1938, when they purchased what is now the fourth-generation Abraham family home.
Abraham graduated from Canadian High School when he was fourteen and attended Texas Tech University in Lubbock for three years thereafter, but did not graduate. With an older brother, he got involved in a variety of business ventures and ended up with oil and gas holdings, besides owning and operating a restaurant in Canadian and selling insurance.
Abraham entered the United States Army for only eight months in 1945, and was exempt from overseas duty because he had three young children.
Abraham was elected to two two-year terms as mayor of his native Canadian in 1953, when he unseated Mayor Jess Lindley, and again in 1955. Earlier in 1955, he fought unsuccessfully for the adoption of a city manager government; voters rejected the plan in a special election, 310 to 206. Abraham threatened to resign after the rebuff but quickly changed his mind when prompted to do so by key supporters. He did not seek a third term in 1957, and the office passed for one term to L. B. "Curly" Owens. In 1959, Abraham sought a comeback in the office but was defeated by his only opponent, political newcomer, Bill Bartlett.
Twelve years later in 1967, Abraham entered the Texas House of Representatives as a Republican member from then District 84 (later District 79). He succeeded the Democrat Fritz Thompson (1905-1994) of Borger in Hutchinson County, which was moved from District 84. In addition to his own Hemphill County, Abraham represented Gray, Hansford, Lipscomb, Ochiltree, Roberts, and Wheeler counties. Phil Cates, a Democrat from Shamrock in Wheeler County, was elected to succeed Abraham, who vacated the seat after two terms.
Abraham's state House tenure corresponded with the administrations of Governors John B. Connally, Jr., and Preston Smith. In the legislature, Abraham was particularly known for "economy in government." Each year of his service, he spent less on his office staff and maintenance than any other lawmaker. His former state House seat, now No. 88, is held by Moderate Republican Ken King of Canadian, a close friend of the Abraham family who defeated the conservative Jim Landtroop, formerly of Plainview in Hale County in the 2012 Republican runoff election.
In 1970, Abraham relinquished his House seat to run unsuccessfully for the District 31 seat in the state Senate vacated by the 30-year incumbent, Grady Hazlewood, an Amarillo Democrat. Abraham trailed the Democrat Max R. Sherman of Amarillo, 33,637 to 37,593 ballots. "He did me a favor and sent me back home to make some money," said Abraham of his loss by some four thousand votes to Sherman.
The political defeat in 1970 was indeed viewed as a blessing by the Abraham family, recalled his son, Malouf Abraham, Jr., a retired allergist and patron of the arts from Canadian. It was after the lost election that Abraham's oil and natural gas business skyrocketed. After his legislative years, Abraham continued to follow political developments and was a delegate to numerous Republican National Conventions. He and several family members journeyed to Washington, D.C., in 1981 for the first inauguration of Ronald W. Reagan.
Money is like manure. If you spread it around, it does a lot of good. But if you pile it up, it just stinks, the Oofie Abraham dictum, recalled in 2003 by former state Representative Warren Chisum
Like most of his other family members, Abraham was a noted philanthropist. He established endowment funds at West Texas A&M University (earlier West Texas State College) in Canyon, and at Texas Tech. He established a scholarship fund through the Amarillo Area Foundation that has since benefited numerous Panhandle students who study agriculture in larger and smaller institutions, such as Clarendon College in Clarendon, which two of Abraham's grandsons attended, and Frank Phillips College in Borger in the northern part of the Panhandle.
The Abrahams gave generously to the Young Men's Christian Association and the Edward Abraham Memorial Home, a nursingfacility n] named for one of his brothers, and the Little House Day Care Center, all in Canadian.
Abraham was also a gambler. A familiar face in Las Vegas, Nevada, Abraham was recruited by the casinos, who sent Lear jets to Canadian to take him to the gambling tables. His friend Harold Courson tell of taking trips with Abraham to Las Vegas and Lake Tahoe in which Abraham would stuff thousands of dollars in bills into his boots.
Five generations of Abrahams
Abraham was married to the former Iris Lewis (1918-2001), a member of a pioneer family in Canadian, Texas, whose roots in Hemphill County date to the 1880s. In addition to Dr. Abraham, the couple had a second son, Bill Ed Abraham (born 1945) of Dallas, and a daughter, Betty Abraham Cooper (born 1942) and husband, Mert Cooper, of Canadian. On his death, Abraham was survived by two older brothers, businessmen Tom Abraham and Naceeb L. Abraham (1907-2000); eight grandchildren, and four great-grandchildren.
The grandchildren include the three sons of Dr. Malouf Abraham, Jr., and his wife, the former Therese Browne, originally from Mount Airy, North Carolina. Therese was like her father-in-law the mayor of Canadian; she served in the nonpartisan position (though the Abrahams are all Republicans) from 1981 to 1991. The sons are Eddie Christopher Abraham (born 1965), Salem Abraham (born 1966), and Jason Abraham (born 1969). He worked in his last years in business with the three grandsons.
Salem Abraham is a businessman, entrepreneur, and a futures trader in Canadian. Like the other Abraham children, he graduated from Canadian High School. He then went to Notre Dame University in South Bend, Indiana. He and his wife, Ruth Ann (born 1967), have eight children, who are the fifth generation of Abrahams to claim Canadian as their home. He is a member of the Canadian Independent School District board. Eddie and Jason Abraham and their families reside on large ranches in Hemphill County. The Canadian area is considered unlike most of the Panhandle Plains geographically because it is more hilly and has more trees than the surrounding counties.
On Abraham's passing, the Texas House of Representatives paid tribute through a resolution introduced by area lawmakers David Swinford of Dumas, and Warren Chisum of Pampa. The legislators described Abraham as "a man of extraordinary vision and energy who consistently used his unique talents and intelligence to better the world around him; his presence will be deeply missed by all who were privileged to know him, but his rare generosity of spirit will live on in the many good works he leaves behind."
In 2000, the Amarillo Globe News included Abraham among the "100 Most Influential People of the Panhandle of the Twentieth Century". Shortly before his death, the Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum in Canyon designated Abraham a "Living Legend."
To show his sense of humor, the Abraham family placed in his coffin a bottle of Jack Daniel's black label; a Malouf Abraham, Inc., pen, which he gave away everywhere he went; a wooden nickel, which became his campaign token during his legislative days, and a pack of cigarettes and a lighter.Abraham and his family are interred at the Edith Ford Cemeteries in Canadian.
On July 4, 2003, Malouf and Iris Abraham were honored posthumously at the dedication of Sunset Park in Canadian. At the entrance to the park is a giant spur sculpture by Kerry Westbrook. Warren Chisum, then the state representative from the district, spoke at the ceremony. He jokingly recalled the "Oofie Abraham dictum": "Money is like manure. If you spread it around, it does a lot of good. But if you pile it up, it just stinks". Former Canadian Mayor George W. Arrington (born 1933), also an oilman, spoke warmly of the Abrahams: "This park, like everything Oofie and Iris ever did, is a product of unselfish, dedicated hard work. ... It's not what you get out of life but what you put back that matters." The inscription on the bronze plaques at the base of the spur sculpture reads: "If the Lord loves cheerful givers, He certainly loved Iris and Oofie. They gave generously with joy."
- Malouf Abraham, Oil & Gas. The Amarillo Globe Times, reproduced on River Valley Pioneer Museum website (May 19, 2000). Retrieved on November 4, 2019; specific material may no longer be on-line..
- "Abraham will not resign," Canadian Record, January 6, 1955, p. 1.
- "City election slated Tuesday: To name mayor, commissioners," Canadian Record, April 2, 1959, p. 1.
- Fritz Thompson. Texas Legislative Reference Library. Retrieved on November 4, 2019.
- Malouf Abraham. Texas Legislative Reference Library. Retrieved on November 4, 2019.
- Phil Cates. Texas Legislative Reference Library. Retrieved on November 4, 2019.
- Texas Almanac 1972/1973, Election Returns, November 3, 1970.
- Age, infirmity don't deter Panhandle philanthropist. Amarillo Globe-News (April 30, 1993). Retrieved on November 4, 2019; under pay wall.
- "City elects first woman mayor," Canadian Record, April 9, 1981, p. 1.
- David Bowser (May 17, 2001). Panhandle Water Export Issue Involves More Than One Player. Livestockweekly.com. Retrieved on January 19, 2010; no longer on-line..
- "Family, friends of Oofie and Iris Abraham gather for Sunset Park dedication," Canadian Record, July 10, 2003, p. 8.