BLOOMDALE, Ohio - Melba Abbott, who owned a beauty shop in her home here for decades and once served on village council, died Thursday in Blanchard Valley Regional Health Center in Findlay. She was 83.
She likely died of pneumonia, but suffered from severe arthritis, diminishing eyesight, and other health problems for years, her son Russell Wice said. She had resided at the Blakely Care Center in North Baltimore for 21/2 years.
Mrs. Abbott had a room built onto the front of her home on North Main Street in the late 1950s where she operated a one-chair beauty shop. She quit doing hair herself in 1986 but kept books for the shop into the 1990s.
Sandy Rhodes, the shop's only employee, who started with Mrs. Abbott in 1967, continues business there at what she said is the only beauty shop in Bloomdale.
After graduating from beauty school in Toledo, Mrs. Abbott worked in Fostoria and Bloomdale before opening the shop in her home. For years, she worked in the mornings and early afternoons, Tuesday through Friday, and Mrs. Rhodes worked in the afternoons and evenings.
Many of her customers were conservative, older women who had her wash their hair and put it up in curlers once a week. Mrs. Rhodes considered her an expert at finger waves, a style worn close to the head, but over her career she did page boys, pixies, and the beehive.
Mrs. Abbott, a staunch Republican and a proponent of zoning, was on Bloomdale village council in the late 1950s and early 1960s, her son said. She was president of the Bloomdale parent teacher group about the time when the local schools were consolidating, a move she supported.
She was born in Gallipolis in southern Ohio, and her family moved to an 80-acre farm just east of Bloomdale when she was young.
She was the oldest of her parents' four children. After her mother's death, her father remarried and had three more children.
She married Richard Wice, who died in 1974 when he was 69. In the mid 1980s, she married Fred Abbott, who died in 1993.
She was a member of Trinity United Methodist Church in Bloomdale for decades, and earlier she belonged to Evangelical United Brethren Church.
She sewed many of her own clothes and enjoyed reading biographies, humor, and inspirational books and followed the Cincinnati Reds baseball team.
Surviving are her son, Russell Wice; stepdaughters, Barbara McFadden, Janis Bobb, and JoAnn Crawford; stepson, Fred Abbott; half brothers, Joe and Rudy Russell; half sister, Barbara Thompson; two grandchildren; seven step-grandchildren, and four step-great-grandchildren.
Funeral services will be at 2 p.m. today in Trinity United Methodist Church, Bloomdale, with visitation an hour before the service. The Mann-Hare Funeral Home in Fostoria is handling arrangements.
The family requests tributes to the church.