Fred Abdula, 87, of Waukegan, Illinois, passed away on October 12, 2012, surrounded by his loving family. Beloved husband of Anna Marie for 63 years; loving father of Linda (James) Considine, Patrick Abdula, Michael Abdula, and Lisa Abdula; fond brother of Marlene Hunt; adoring uncle to many nieces and nephews.
Born to Joseph and Valda Abdula on August 22, 1925, Fred was a lifelong resident of Waukegan. He was a 1943 graduate of Waukegan Township High School. He served in the U.S. Marine Corps during WWII in the South Pacific. Through the GI Bill, he earned a BSME from the University of Illinois, and began his career at Deep Freeze, Inc., and Johnson Motors in Waukegan. In 1955, his entrepreneurial spirit prompted him to start his own business, Air Con Refrigeration and Heating, Inc., a mechanical contracting firm which is now in its second generation of operation. He belonged to the Lake County Contractors Association, and served as its President in 1973 and 1979.
A dynamic person always looking for new challenges, Fred was elected to the Board of Directors, Bank of Waukegan (presently NorStates Bank), in 1975; in 1982 he was elected Chairman of the Board and CEO. Upon his retirement in 2011, the NorStates main facility on Lewis Avenue was designated The Honorary Fred Abdula Banking Center. In addition, a portion of Roger Edwards Avenue that leads to the Lewis Avenue facility has been dedicated as "Fred Abdula Honorary Avenue."
His continued dedication and love for the community in which he lived and worked led him to become one of the prime movers in the refurbishment of the Genesee Theatre, serving on the Board of Directors since 1991. To honor his tremendously successful efforts on this project, the Genesee Theatre stage has been named for him. Over the years, Fred held many other prestigious positions, such as Director of the Waukegan/Lake County Chamber of Commerce; Chairman of the First Federal Bank and CEO (1992); Board of Directors of the Waukegan Business Association (1993); Board of Directors of Vista Health Systems (2007).
Fred and Anna's philanthropic endeavors were many. In 1995, a generous donation to the College of Lake County Foundation resulted in the annual Abdula Scholarship; Fred was awarded the "Gates of Jerusalem" Medal for his contributions to the community and for his efforts to strengthen Israel's economy through the Israel Bond campaign (1984); they donated funds for the purchase of police dogs for the City of Waukegan. In addition, Fred was involved in many service organizations such as The United Way, the American Legion, Elks, Lions, Kiwanis and Moose Clubs, and also was a member of the Glen Flora Country Club.
Over the years, many honors were bestowed on Fred, such as Financial World Magazine naming him CEO of the Year (1993) for $300M Bank; induction into the Chicago Entrepreneurship Hall of Fame (2003); Distinguished Alumnus Award by the Department of Mechanical Engineering, University of Illinois (2006); Patron of the Year – Waukegan Park District (2009); Grand Marshal of Waukegan's American Independence Parade (2011).
Fred Abdula will be remembered by all those who knew him for his unflagging devotion to his family and friends, his outstanding business and community leadership, and his generous support and service to a great many causes.
Visitation will be at Marsh Funeral Home, 305 N. Cemetery Road, Gurnee, IL, on Monday, October 22 from 4:00 pm to 8:00 pm. The funeral service will be held on Tuesday, October 23, at 11:00 a.m., also at Marsh Funeral Home. Entombment will be at Northshore Garden of Memories in North Chicago.
Donations in Fred's memory maybe made to the Friends of the Historic Genesee Theatre, 203 North Genesee, Waukegan, IL 60085.