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Guy Abbott remembered as kind, dedicated ‘friend’

by Tom Chillemi

Many in the Middlesex and surrounding community were stunned and saddened by the sudden death of former Middlesex Sheriff Guy L. Abbott on Wednesday, August 14 (see obituary).

Mr. Abbott, 57, was a Middlesex native who served three terms as sheriff from 2000 through 2011. Those who knew Mr. Abbott knew him as someone who was dedicated to the community.

His funeral was one of the most attended funerals in Middlesex history. Middlesex Deputy T. Ashby said the funeral procession on Sunday stretched about 6 miles up Route 17 to Hermitage Baptist Church. When the last car pulled onto Route 17 at Saluda, the hearse was almost to Route 602 at Route 17, said Ashby.

Ronnie Russell of Water View, who was one of three to speak at Mr. Abbott’s funeral, said, “Above all, he was a servant to his fellow man and a great father and husband.”

Russell said he and Mr. Abbott were friends all their lives. Russell was 8 years older and drove the school bus that a young Mr. Abbott rode.

As a young man Mr. Abbott worked on Corbin Hall Farm. Even as a teenager Mr. Abbott was a good welder and worked on the trucks for the Upper Middlesex Volunteer Fire Department of Water View.

Encouraged by his father, who was a volunteer firefighter, Mr. Abbott “grew up” in the fire department and joined at a young age. 

Russell recalled the first structure fire to which Mr. Abbott responded. Russell and Mr. Abbott put on their air packs and started into the smoky building. Mr. Abbott hesitated, said Russell. “He would stick his head in but didn’t want to go in,” said Russell. “I shoved him through the door, and that was the last time anyone had to shove Guy into a fire. He was always aggressive after that. He was a quick learner.”

Mr. Abbott took over the position of chief of the UMVFD in 1979 and served in that position until 1999.

Mr. Abbott was “innovative,” said Russell. When he worked for VDOT Mr. Abbott built a lift that was mounted in the back of a truck that would raise men up to cut branches of trees. “They are still using it.”

Mr. Abbott was well liked by those he worked with in the Virginia Department of Forestry, noted Russell.

As a patrol officer with the Virginia Marine Resources Commission, Mr. Abbott developed a good working relationship with commissioner Bill Pruitt. Pruitt, traveled through rain from Tangier Island in a 23-foot boat on Sunday to speak at Mr. Abbott’s funeral.

Mr. Abbott was selected for the Governor’s Narcotics Task Force.

He was elected Middlesex Sheriff three times and served from 2000 to 2011. “He was a good sheriff for the people,” said Russell. “He spoke his mind. He wasn’t necessarily a politician.”

Russell noted Mr. Abbott was found not guilty in 2012 of charges involving his office finances. “We needed that closure,” said Russell. “I was thankful that a judge could see through all the rhetoric. We stood behind Guy all the way.

“I never heard Guy condemn any of the people who condemned him,” said Russell. “He said, ‘I forgive them.’ That’s why I loved him. He was a true Christian. He was not perfect, but I do not know anyone who is.”

A true friend
Carolyn Schmalenberger, an officer with the Deltaville Community Association (DCA), said, “Guy Abbott was a true friend to the DCA and the Deltaville community. Whether we needed assistance for the Heritage Day parade, fireworks, traffic control or other community events, Guy was always willing to help out,” she said.

“He was one of those exceptional servants who set the bar for all of us at a higher level,” said Schmalenberger. “We send our heartfelt sympathies to Chrissy and the entire Abbott family. Guy will be greatly missed.”

Like a brother
David Bushey, the current Middlesex Sheriff, said he was “stunned” at the news of Mr. Abbott’s passing. “I always had fond memories of him,” said Bushey, who served as Mr. Abbott’s chief deputy several years ago. “We had a unique friendship and he told me, ‘You’re like a brother to me.’ ”

Bushey added he was pleased to see the agencies that Mr. Abbott had worked for during his career be represented at his funeral. “They all were there to show their respect. It was very unique and true to his background.”

The Virginia Marine Police provided the honor guard, Bushey noted.

One of the kindest
Richard Haynes, a retired Marine Police Officer, knew Mr. Abbott all his life. “Guy was one of the kindest people I’ve ever known,” he said.

Mr. Abbott, who also was a Marine Police Officer, worked with Haynes on searches and rescues. “It was always good to have someone with his experience and knowledge of the water during those intense situations we’d come up against,” said Haynes. “Guy was one of those people who would risk his life to save someone. He never backed off, and would go out in the worst weather, against all odds.”

Carlton Revere, chair of the Middlesex County Board of Supervisors, was county emergency services coordinator and worked with Mr. Abbott during Hurricane Irene in 2009 and the tornado that struck Deltaville in April, 2011. “He communicated well,” said Revere. “He was always looking out for the well-being of citizens. In an emergency, he never hesitated to get his hands dirty.”

Mr. Abbott will be missed, Revere said. “Our hearts go out to his family.”

posted 08.21.2013

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