Tree dedicated in memory of former local business owner, Rotarian


As the Rev. Ralph Blomenberg spoke during a tree dedication ceremony in memory of Louis Abraham Jr., “How Great Thou Art” played on a nearby church’s bell tower.

Abraham’s family quickly took notice while standing in Crossroads Community Park in downtown Seymour on a sunny, clear, cool Monday.

At the end of Abraham’s funeral Jan. 17, Blomenberg and the other pastors conducting the service gathered near the casket to sing that same song.

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It’s appropriate to pay tribute to a man who loved his family, his business and his community.

“It’s a sign. It was a sprinkle from Dad that he was here,” said his daughter, Lisa Kloeker.

“He gives us sprinkles. He does,” his wife, Marsha Abraham, said while tearing up.

“He’s the best man we know,” Kloeker said.

“Yep, he was a very good man,” Marsha said. “He loved his community, and he would be so proud to see that (tree) down here.”

Since Louis was a Seymour Rotary Club member from June 1971 to January 2018, the club wanted to do something in his memory.

The result was adding a plaque made and donated by Woodlawn Life Celebration Centre in Seymour in front of a sycamore tree at the park.

The plaque has a picture of Louis and the Rotary logo and denotes his years of service and that he was a Paul Harris Fellow. The recognition acknowledges individuals who contribute or who have contributions made in their name of $1,000 to The Rotary Foundation of Rotary International, according to

Arann Banks, president of the Seymour Rotary Club, said through research and talking to the family, Louis never missed a meeting. The group meets every Monday.

“If you miss a meeting in our building or when we have meetings as a group, you can meet in other cities and counties or take a class online or lesson through Rotary and count as your attendance,” she said. “With that being said, (Louis) never missed a meeting. That’s just amazing, and we really, really appreciate his leadership both with our community with Rotary and also with his family.”

“Service Above Self” is the motto of Rotary, and Banks said Louis was an amazing example of that.

“He was very subtle and respectful, and he stepped up when it was time to step up,” she said.

His family also saw his dedication to the club.

“Rotary was everything to Louis. He loved Rotary,” Marsha said. “When we were young, we would always have to find the Rotary sign in the town where we were vacationing so he could go to Rotary.”

Kloeker said her mom would always tell Louis she was going to put something about Rotary on his headstone someday.

“When we were in Florida, even as adults when we would go down and meet Mom and Dad, he would have to go to a Rotary meeting,” Kloeker said.

That dedication is rare to see, but his family said he was a rare man.

“That was just Louis,” Marsha said. “When he took a project on or he joined a committee, he gave it his all. Same at church. He was always doing something at church — elders or board of education.”

Louis’ father also was a longtime Rotary member, and both served as president of the Seymour club at one point. Rotary has been in Seymour since 1919.

“I think he wanted the community to thrive, and he just thought putting his input in whatever Rotary wanted him to do, he would do it,” Marsha said.

“I think he just enjoyed it all — the community about it, people, serving,” Kloeker said.

“His three loves were family, his work and community. That was just Louis,” Marsha said. “If anybody asked him, he never said ‘no.’ I might have said ‘Louis,’ but he never said ‘no.’ He always said ‘yes’ to whatever anybody asked him to do.”

Aside from Rotary, Louis was dedicated to the family business in Seymour. He was able to carry on his grandfather and father’s legacy in the community as co-owner of W.J. Abraham & Sons.

The business began in 1901 as a partnership between William J. Abraham and Harry Reed and operated as Abraham & Reed. They first focused on constructing buildings around the area and later expanded to include residential work.

The first building constructed was for Carlson Lumber Co. on Third Street. The business soon expanded to include residential work.

When the partnership dissolved several years later, William began operating as a general contractor. One of his sons, William P., joined in 1925, and another son, Louis F., joined in 1930.

The company operated under the name of Wm. J. Abraham & Sons with William J. serving as president of the corporation, Louis F. as vice president and William P. as secretary-treasurer.

The first office was on the second floor of a downtown building on the northwest corner at Second and Chestnut streets.

World War II halted construction for a while. William P. joined the staff of Warren and Van Prague, the engineers for Freeman Field, while Louis joined the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for the duration of the war.

In 1947, they returned to the industry and moved to new offices at Eighth and Pershing streets.

In 1949, the business was reorganized and incorporated and became known as W.J. Abraham & Sons Inc. General Contractors.

Louis Jr. joined the corporation full time in 1966 and became president in 1971 when William J. died. Then William P. Sr. took over, serving until his death in 1993.

The business had a retail lumber yard until 1962, and a new division of the corporation, Abraham Roofing, was formed in 1981. It specialized in the installation of Verisco rubber roofing for flat roofs.

Louis Jr.’s death Jan. 13 led to William P. Jr. deciding it was time to close the business after 117 years and retire. Louis, 74, had cancer and worked until a week before he died.

“It just took people to take care of it, and he did,” Marsha said. “He tried his darndest to keep it going until he got sick.”

Blomenberg also was a Rotarian and knew Louis well, so he was honored to be a part of the tree dedication.

He shared a word of Scripture from Psalm 1: “Blessed is the man whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law, he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers.”

“We’ve come to look at a tree that has been planted, but we’ve come to do more than that, as well,” Blomenberg. “We’re also looking at a future that is built upon memories that we’ve had in the past. I’ve been privileged to know Louis, and I think he would recognize that he’s one of the people that is described in this psalm.”

The Psalm talks about how those who don’t have faith are blown away like leaves, but Blomenberg said that wasn’t true of Louis.

“Louis’ roots were firmly established in his faith in God and the love for his family,” he said.

The tree will continue to grow and be a part of the park for years to come, Blomenberg said.

“Long after all of us are gone, this tree will continue to give shade to this particular spot, it will continue to give oxygen to this community and it will continue to give beauty to this place, as well,” he said.

“This tree will not live forever, nor will any of us that are standing here physically,” he said. “But the Scripture says that Louis lives forever with the Lord. All who are deeply rooted in faith in what Christ had done for us will also live forever.”

Blomenberg said a whole forest of trees couldn’t replace Louis, but the one tree can be a memorial to his contribution to the community and the faith he had in God and be an inspiration for anyone who sees it.

That’s comforting to the family.

“It’s just nice to see that my dad’s name is on it. It will probably be in the community forever,” said Louis’ son, Brian Abraham.

“It’s a good thing,” Kloeker said. “It’s a good day.”

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