LAGUNA BEACH : Woodworker Put His Stamp on City

Artist Mogens Abel literally carved a name for himself in Laguna Beach, his home for 46 years.

A native of Denmark who moved to Laguna Beach in 1937, Abel established a reputation as a woodcarver and was commissioned by the City Council to sculpt wooden welcome signs for all three entrances to the city. He also carved the sign on Laguna Canyon Road that welcomes thousands of visitors at the entrance to the city's Festival of Arts and Pageant of the Masters.

"His wooden signs and carvings are all over this city," said Sally Reeve, public relations director of the pageant, who has an Abel woodcarving inset on the door of her office.

Abel was remembered Friday at a private memorial service at Heisler Park in Laguna Beach. He died July 1 after suffering an aneurysm at his home in Leisure World. He was 75.

Abel was a fixture at the festival and pageant in several capacities. He exhibited his artwork for more than 30 years, served on its board of directors and then acted as grounds manager for more than 20 years.

Abel also portrayed Judas in the pageant's traditional final act, "The Last Supper."

"Mogens was the type of man we always thought would be here," Reeve said. "His brother told me he didn't have an enemy in the world, and I believe it."

Abel's brother, Christian Abel, is an internationally known architect who lives and works in Laguna Beach.

Mogens Abel also is survived by his wife, Shirley, of Leisure World; two sisters, Bierte Abel of San Juan Capistrano and Jane Duree of Escondido; one daughter, Sharon Daly of Austin, Tex.; two stepdaughters, Susan Kish and Nadine Jones, both of Dana Point; one granddaughter and one step-granddaughter.

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