Profile William "Bill" Abell
William "Bill" Abell class of 1963
Yearbook Photo
William "Bill" Abell
Lake Arrowhead

I am writing from a remote town in Mindanao, Philippines.

Even today, it is still hard to think of William without tearing up a bit.  He was the BEST brother a man could ever have, he was my best friend.  Through most of our lives, we lived within a mile of each other and, whenever I was in the country, we saw each other almost daily.  So, let me go back to the late sixties  and fill you in.

After High School, William entered the Navy and served there briefly before he transferred into the Air Force.
William didn't like the thought of going to sea.  He was stationed in Texas where he did intelligence-gathering type secret work. Upon release, he married a woman named Madonna from CVHS class ('64).  He went to work for an insurance company for awhile, but didn't like "hustling people."  He decided to go back for a college education and while attending Glendale College, he worked as a landscape architect apprentice for Lawrence Moss and Associates in Montrose. While there, he helped design the oriental pavilion at Descanso Gardens.  He had a lifelong love affair of plants and trees, having memorized the Latin botanical names of anything that grew in California and much of the rest of the U.S. as well.   William had a desire to see the country, so he worked enough for he and his wife to save up money to buy a VW camper van and have funds to travel.  They and their dog traveled from coast to coast and border to border, taking thousands of photographs along the way.  William's love of art grew tremendously during the trip, but for whatever reason, his marriage had become strained and upon returning they divorced.

William went back to work briefly for the insurance company while living in a small old cabin (1920's vintage) at the top of Briggs Terrace. He was like an eagle in a high nest and loved his garden and spectacular view of the Crescenta Valley.

In 1968 William's mother, Ruth, suddenly died at the age of 53 from a heart attack.  This devastated William and his brother Paul, younger by 18 months (CVHS class of '64).  At this time William fell into a deep depression.  He no longer had the energy to work.  When asked by Paul what he really wanted to do with his life . . . "Only one thing . . . Art," was William's simple answer.  There was the problem of how to support himself, but his brother Paul agreed to move in and become his roommate while William developed a name for himself.  William spent the remainder of his 67 years taking photographs, painting and engaging in was to be his favorite medium,  fine wood sculpture.  A typical wood sculpture would often take months to complete, polished to a mirror finish.  His were pieces "to be touched," he would say, so they had to be felt as well as appreciated with the eye.  One of his most rewarding moments came when a college for the blind attended one of his museum showings.   At one point in his career, William's old friend Lawrence Moss recommended William to the City of Glendale to design an artistic sculpture water wall for the new City Municipal Building.  This was before the time of today's advanced computer design programs.  William designed a Styrofoam model of his vision of what it might be, but the engineers said casting the multiple concrete panels exactly enough to have all the water pipe systems connect was impossible.  William assured them it would not be impossible if he oversaw the pouring process.  They allowed him to do so and the system worked perfectly.  It can be seen today, at the Glendale Municipal center, but unfortunately, for water conservation purposes, they don't often run the water system.

While still living on Briggs, Will's his best friend, Bob Biggs (CVHS class of '63), paid for him to attend an EST(Earhard Seminar Training).  It was at that seminar that he met Pamela Davis, a phone company executive.  It was love at first sight.  He and Pamela married, moved to Lake Arrowhead and had one son, Mark.  They all lived together in the Running Springs/Lake Arrowhead area for the remainder of William's life.  Pamela went back to school, got her Ph.D. and is currently working for Cal State University San Bernardino as a career counselor in the School of business.   Mark graduated with honors from Redlands College and went on to become a lawyer in private practice there in Redlands.

In addition for William's passion for art, he had passions for many other things.  He really disliked politicians and the corruptness of government.  He had a very soft spot in his heart for old people and close friends.
If William was your friend, you were a friend for life.  If you needed him, he'd be there for you.  He had "old school" values and passed those on to his son.  He spent much time with Mark, teaching wilderness skills and the value of truth and honor.

One of William's biggest passions was nature conservation.  He was an active member of the Save Our Forest Association and often took on the timber industry as a fighting force with which to contend.  Many, many trees owe their existence to William and it is for that legacy that the local community in Arrowhead dedicated a hiking trail in his honor with his name on it.

William was a gourmet cook for healthy food before it was a fad and fashion.  Consequently, it was a shock to everyone when, at a Thanksgiving dinner in 2011, he had a stroke behind his eyes, which left him blind in one eye and minimally sighted in another.  Doctors were at a loss as to what caused the stroke, but a top surgeon and Jules Stein UCLA eye clinic insisted on comprehensive tests.  They discovered William had a seriously debilitating and rare form of arterial arthritis called Wegener's disease.  Though sometimes managed, the disease is usually fatal. William quietly passed away from the disease at home in the loving arms of his wife, Pamela, in 2012.  He never wanted a funeral or fuss about his passing, such was his private demeanor.  However, a multitude of people honor him by owning his exquisite art work and walking the path bearing his name.   His is dearly missed and remember by family and friends.

       — Paul Abell, William's brother, CVHS class of '64

William "Bill" Abell

Basic Information


Education & Work

Glendale College
Artist in fine wood


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