Mary Withers Dempsey Abbot
FAYETTEVILLE — Mary Withers Dempsey Abbott, passed away on Monday, Feb. 20, 2006, at Plateau Medical Center. The daughter of Luther J. Dempsey of Hinton and Minnie Bidgood Arbuckle Dempsey of Lewisburg, she was born Oct. 4, 1928 in Denver, where her father was a student at the Colorado School of Mines. She married the late W. Robert Abbot on Feb. 11, 1949 and lived for the next 57 years in Fayetteville.
Mrs. Abbot attended Saint Agnes School in Alexandria where her father, a colonel in the US Army Corps of Engineers, was stationed during the Second World War. She graduated from Charleston High School in 1947. She attended Mary Washington College in Fredricksburg, Va. and earned her bachelors degree from Morris Harvey College in Charleston.
Mrs. Abbot taught at Fayetteville Elementary and other Fayette County Schools in the 1960’s and 70s. She was a licensed real estate agent associated with Wise and Yeager Realty.
In 1974, she and her longtime friend, Betty Mahan, founded the Fayette Humane Society, a non-profit organization that built and operated Fayette County’s first humane animal shelter. The facility, located in Glen Jean, cared for homeless, lost, and neglected animals for 20 years before the county took over its functions at a new facility in Beckwith. Proceeds from the sale of the shelter at Glen Jean recently funded a series of grants to animal welfare organizations serving Fayette County.
Mrs. Abbot was a portrait artist and belonged to an informal group of local painters that included Mrs. Mahan, Florence Lee, Penny Hill, and Betty Gaines.
Known as “Mairs” by friends and family, Mrs. Abbot is survived by her brother, Luther J. Dempsey Jr. of Morgantown; her sister, Catherine Frank of Metarie, La.; sons, Mathew and his wife, Cindy of Fayetteville, Bahlmann and his wife, Bliss, of Charlottesville, Va., and Rob and his wife, Claire, of Arlington, Va.; grandsons, Sam and Tate of Fayetteville; granddaughters, Lydia, Bliss, and Isabelle of Charlottesville and Mary Claire of Arlington.