Annabel Abraham, 97

Teacher, Hemingway Foundation volunteer

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Annabel Abraham (nee Steinhorn), 97, of Oak Park, died on Oct. 5, 2018, surrounded by her family. Born in 1921 in Syracuse, New York, she traveled with her mother in Europe and briefly attended school in Geneva, Switzerland while a young girl. After finishing high school, she entered Northwestern University at the age of 15, where she initially was not permitted to reside in the dormitories because of her tender age. At Northwestern, she earned an M.A. in speech therapy, received a medal from the Italian government for her proficiency in Italian, and met and married Bernard M. Abraham, who was then working toward his PhD in chemistry. 

She began a teaching career that would last over half a century and which supported her husband while he finished his degree. At the outset of her career, she had to conceal her marriage from the school district which, at that time, would not hire married women as teachers. Initially, she taught in Gary, Indiana and when she and Dr. Abraham moved to Oak Park in 1953, she taught first in parochial and then public schools, in addition to taking stroke victims suffering from aphasia as private patients. 

Her busy professional schedule did not interfere with her roles as a wife, mother, and homemaker. She encouraged her children to read widely, visit museums, and otherwise explore their various talents and interests. She also assisted her husband throughout his career of elected public service in Oak Park. 

Following his death, she spent much time and energy in more informal public service, as a volunteer at the Ernest Hemingway Foundation and as an advocate for improved handicap access, among other things. She was a skilled and inveterate knitter until arthritis destroyed her dexterity, and she loved to browse flea markets, estate sales, and thrift shops until infirmity limited her mobility. 

Annabel Abraham is survived by her children, Daniel Ethan, Jesse Micah (Amy Peck) and Abigail; and her grandsons, David and Jeremy. She is mourned by them and by her many friends. She was preceded in death by her eldest son, Oren Carmi who died suddenly at the age of 4. 

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Kevin Peppard from Oak Park  

Posted: October 12th, 2018 3:16 PM

Annabel and her late husband Bernard were great people. My parents (who were not yet married) met them circa 1944, when Bernie was working on his PhD at the University of Chicago, my father was a post-doctoral fellow in Chemistry and taught upper undergraduate courses, my mom was an undergraduate chemistry major, and Annabel was already working as a teacher. Later, both couples would move to Oak Park, and the men rode together in a carpool to Argonne. Annabel was a moderating influence on Bernie, who freely spoke his mind. He served on the D97 and D200 boards (as President), and on the Village Board. Annabel was behind him every step of the way. She and Bernie were some of the original investors in the Wednesday Journal, because they wanted competition in local journalism. They were both very public-spirited Oak Parkers

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