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Desire to Serve Keeps Activist Moving Along

SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Georgia Abelmann has spent a good deal of her life on the move. And we’re not talking about uprooting from Sherman Oaks to settle in Woodland Hills. This community activist has called five continents home, and has left her mark on every village and city she has inhabited.

Although Abelmann doesn’t maintain the same whirlwind pace she managed during the two decades she traveled the globe to be with her oil-industry husband, the former businesswoman’s volunteer efforts at Glendale Adventist Hospital have barely ebbed since 1963. From the staff uniforms she has designed to the thousands of dollars she has raised for the East Valley institution, her impact has been felt.

“Georgia is an incredible lady with amazing energy and compassion for this organization,” said Bob Carmen, the hospital’s president. “She has given countless hours of her time on behalf of this institution. She’s a mentor and a historian and a great resource.”

Abelmann’s slight countenance belies an energy that through the years has landed her on the board of directors of the Glendale Symphony Orchestra Assn., of the Oakmont League of Glendale, of the YWCA’s President’s Advisory Council and of the Glendale Adventist Hospital Foundation.

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The two-time Verdugo Hills Business and Professional Women’s Woman of the Year said community service is like breathing: She does it to live.

“My philosophy of life is that there is always something more I can do,” Abelmann said. “Life is for today and not to be wasted. As a result, I’ve met great people and experienced great satisfaction.”

The satisfaction has worked both ways.

“Georgia is a wonder,” said Chris Murray, president of the hospital foundation. “Her zeal to help this hospital meet the community’s needs surpasses itself every year. She’s a role model who embraces the life paths we should all aspire to.”

Abelmann’s life path has been anything but typical.

The Colorado native grew up in the small town of Holly, where her parents owned a department store and where her father was mayor. Following a short-lived, but successful, turn as a singer, she attended the University of Oklahoma, where she met and later married Warren Morris.

Morris, a chief inspector for Mobil Oil Corp., took his young wife off to Africa, where she lived what she calls the “corporate life” of teas and dinner parties, but one where she frequently had to pull up stakes, moving from the country then known as the Belgian Congo (now Zaire) to Nigeria and Ghana, with years-long stints in Central America and Asia as well.

When Morris retired in 1963, the couple and their daughter settled in Glendale, where Abelmann opened the first of three successful uniform stores. Her first order was to supply uniforms for the entire USC Dental School, and she went on to introduce the first pantsuits at Good Samaritan Hospital. She retired in 1987 to devote her life to community service.

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A 14-year foundation board member at Glendale Adventist--which cared for Morris, who died in 1978, and her second husband, Ernst Abelmann, who died eight years ago--Abelmann says she wants to help out at the hospital as long as they need her.

“Life has been very rewarding to me. I’ve been given opportunities others haven’t gotten. I hope I’ve given all I can.”

Personal Best is a weekly profile of an ordinary person who does extraordinary things. Please send suggestions on prospective candidates to Personal Best, Los Angeles Times, 20000 Prairie St., Chatsworth 91311. Or fax them to (818) 772-3338.


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