In Celebration of

Mark Abbott

October 1, 1931 -  August 19, 2021

Peacefully, on August 19, 2021, passed away in his 90th year. Mark had a long, dynamic, successful and fulfilling life.

Rising from the coalfields of Yorkshire to be the only person in his village to go to middle school and then on to complete his doctorate at Imperial College London in Chemical Engineering, Mark’s focused hard work and fearless intellectual energy and drive were an inspiration to all who knew him. His formidable talents were turned to many career spheres rising to distinction in the worlds of business, academe and public service.

Whatever Mark undertook, he was a strong believer in being independent, self-sufficient and using time and resources wisely and efficiently.

He confidently balanced the responsibilities and demands of family, work, community involvement, home projects, sports and exercise activities. One of his greatest loves was music, especially Wagner and Mahler, and he was never happier than when listening to the Met’s Saturday Afternoon at the Opera CBC broadcast while making homemade wine or undertaking yet another project around his home.

In retirement, he and his wife, Josephine travelled the world and visited friends and family. At home, joining the seniors’ workshops of the Academy for Lifelong Learning not only provided them both with a wealth of intellectual stimulation but a whole new world of interesting and active friends and acquaintances.

He leaves his beloved wife, Josephine Szczasiuk, Beryl, the mother of his children John, Jill, and Karl, seven grandchildren and six great grandchildren, along with an extended worldwide family. He was predeceased by his daughter Ruth, who was never far from his mind.

Dearest Mark, you were a forthright and courageous spirit who tried to treat everyone fairly and to improve the world through your direct action, generous philanthropy and fearless personal example. Thank you.

Special thanks to all the people who made his last two weeks as comfortable as possible; the ever timely first responders, St. Joseph’s Emergency and Palliative Care Teams and the wonderful Palliative Care team at Toronto Grace Hospital.

A private service will be held at Turner & Porter Yorke Chapel.
The service will be live streamed on Saturday, August 28, 2:30pm EST.


Copy and paste the following link into your browser

For those who wish, online condolences may be made through

To those wishing to remember Mark, please raise a glass in a toast (the Manhattan was Mark’s favourite cocktail) and consider a contribution to Doctors without Borders.


(5 of 41)

David Brodie 

Entered August 27, 2021

I met Mark through the Academy for Lifelong Learning, where he could sometimes be seen wearing his Economist T-shirt with the aphorism "Great Minds Like a Think"; so appropriate to Mark. His was an active, discerning and ranging mind, always tempered with a playful sense of humour. And what a full life's narrative!

Pat Kay 

Entered August 27, 2021

Thinking of Mark with fond memories of our many discussions in our cinephilies group. I will miss his warm smile and good humour!

Rita Johnson 

Entered August 27, 2021 from Picton

What a lovely tribute. The photo has captured Mark's lively intelligence and twinkling sense of humour. He leaves a hole in your life, Josie.

Vivienne Monty (A Life Well Lived)

Entered August 27, 2021 from Toronto

Dear Josie and Family:

I was saddened to hear of Mark's death. It must leave a terrible hole in your life. I hope that with time only the pleasant memories will live on.

Love Vivienne

Yvette Matyas 

Entered August 27, 2021

My thoughts are with you and your family. My sincere condolences

Life Stories 

(4 of 4)

Karl Abbott (Son)

Entered August 30, 2021

We have come together to remember Mark Abbott, my father and father to Ruth, Jill and John. Husband to Josie. Brother to Fred, Colin, Tony, Alan, John and Wendy,

I think a summer’s weekend afternoon in 1972 encapsulates much of what we all know of dad.

Saturday afternoon at the opera on the CBC. Turned up to 11.

A project underway. Plumbing. Electrical. Concrete! There will be a surplus of ambition. And quite likely blood.

Followed by Manhattans on the patio. Or perhaps G&Ts, if the weather is like this.

Then a barbecue. “The black parts are the best!” followed by fruit salad. “It’s fine – just cut off the moldy bits”

Alternatively, if the winds were gale force and the seas over your head, it would be a fine day for sailing. We kids would of course fight over hanging on to the painter on the bow of the boat, heeled over at 45 degrees.

OHSA was not a big part of Dad’s life.

All of this topped off with Saturday Night at the Movies with Elwy Yost. I will never forget seeing the Seventh Seal at perhaps 8 years old. When better to learn about playing chess with death?

Your knowing smiles and chuckles show that you knew him too.

My father was a man of intelligence and drive, curiosity and wit. He had a multitude of passions and wide circles of family, colleagues, friends and acquaintances to enjoy them with.

He was born and grew up in Yorkshire, the proud son of a coal miner. But New Crofton could not contain him and he became the first in the village to go to middle school. Not satisfied with that, he kept going until he had his PhD.

I’m sure his life long love of water didn’t come from New Crofton so perhaps that came from his Navy service. Perhaps that also triggered his wanderlust with a posting in Malta.

Subsequently, the new world beckoned and he began the next phase of his life in his new home, Canada.

He scaled the heights of several careers, in business, academe and public service. Typically, he ran for the NDP in the conservative heartland - to great opprobrium - because it was the right thing to do. I read his platform again this week and I wish he was running today. I’d vote for him.

Living his maxim of “a third to learn, a third to earn and a third to return”, he retired early.

He called me, when he was younger than I am now, to proclaim the greatness of retirement and question why I hadn’t done so already? Did I say greatness? Of course, I meant he said it was “Glorious”. I can hear him saying it now.

He was good at retirement, I think. Travel, the Academy for Learning, family and enjoying the garden (and puttering!) at Langmuir kept him active and engaged. It certainly didn’t slow him down. Josie and I were recently recalling him biking downtown for lunch with me into his 80s. When he did it in 6 inches of snow, we thought perhaps it was time to find a new way to commute.

While in later years, that powerful mind betrayed him, I watched childlike wonder overtake him as everything was again new to him. And in his last few weeks, I know he enjoyed having family by his side, with music and debate never far away.

Dad wasn’t obviously ambitious. He just did things. Everything, and usually all at once.

He was a titan.

Like all children - well, except mine of course – my relationship with my father was complicated.

All that I am, I owe to him. The character and values I have flow from his life.

He was a child of his generation and he was consequently hard and strong. Living a life like that, of course he had to be strong.

I don’t remember my father ever saying he loved me. Until two weeks ago, in his hospital bed, when in one of his final acts of strength, he became vulnerable. And prompted by Josie, his everything, he told me he loved me.

I love you too, dad. And I’m going to miss you every day.

I don’t know where you are or what you’re doing, but if there’s a rowdy crowd debating the coming election, I know you’ll be at the heart of it and recommending the NDP.

Enjoy your rest. You’ve earned it.

John Abbott (Son)

Entered August 30, 2021

I will remember Dad in his prime. This was when we spent the most time together.

You know you can’t choose your parents, don’t you?

I’m glad my parents picked me; I even arrived on my Dad’s birthday!

Dad always had some project on the go. Guess who the go-to guy was?

It was me. Dad and I worked on everything together. You name it, we did it: electrical, plumbing and carpentry. I knew I had graduated when the dryer burnt out yet another element and Dad just said “You fix it; you know how”

I helped him build the 300’+ interlocking-brick driveway with concrete curbs and a 6’ high ramp by mixing concrete, levelling silt and placing the bricks!

During all this time we bonded and I learned!

Those are just a few things I remember vividly about Dad.

Dad didn’t participate much in our day-to-day lives as he was working, so we relied on Mom.

I arrived shortly after my parents emigrated from England and landed in Kingston.

Dad moved a great deal as he progressed in his career: Cornwall, Connecticut, Dorval, Sainte-Anne-de-Bellevue and finally Sarnia. Along the way, Jill, Karl and Ruth arrived as we all did at our family home @ Haight Lane (on Lake Huron).

Dad had the drive, ambition and charisma to get what he wanted when he wanted. A good part of his motivation was taking care of his family’s needs.

We were so fortunate to have such a wonderful father. He shared what he had with our mother, us children and many charitable causes. He even distributed disciplinary measures when required!

During our life as part of the Abbott family, we have all appreciated what Dad did for us: whether it be lending us money, loaning us a car, spending time vacationing together or just hanging out watching TV with him, I speak for all of us when I say life with Dad was an adventure.

When I graduated from university, my graduation gift from Dad was an all-expense paid trip to England for a bicycle tour with a few hundred quid, a Youth Hostel card, relatives to visit, a BritRail pass and a flight standby from Detroit to/from Heathrow. While others may have got cars or other material objects, my gift was like no other and hence more valuable!

I could go on for hours and hours recounting stories about life with Dad. Dad was a Toastmaster and so am I, so I will keep this short:

Life is a journey of which we only know the beginning. The rest of the journey is what we make of it.

In Dad’s case, I am confident that he both enjoyed the journey and stayed true to his course. He started as a coal miner’s son, completed his PhD, did his compulsory Navy tour, got married, had four children, fulfilled his career at least three times, got remarried to his fantastic wife and my step-mother, Josie, and settled into retirement!

My Dad was a father I dare you to emulate, if you can. You will be happy with the results!

As you can tell, I’m happy to be my father’s son!

Christopher Wales (Grandson)

Entered August 30, 2021

We talk a lot about papa, the academic, the thinker, doctor mark abbott PhD

But for me papa was a man of action, someone who got things done, and with a personal flair that revealed who he was.

His reasons for acting were varied - the desire to compete, to improve himself, to enact change or, often, to satisfy an innate need for maximum thriftiness.

He took on all manner of projects and showed us that with action, you could accomplish whatever you set your mind to. But more importantly, he showed that by taking action, you earned the right to put your personal stamp on the outcome.

Over the years these projects shaped my view of papa as someone fiercely independent, and a bit of a rebel.

I am proud to see that papas independent spirit lives on in his children and grandchildren. And I hope, too, to see that spirit passed on to our next generation.

Benjamin Wales (Grandson)

Entered August 30, 2021

The story I want to share today is the kind of thing my mom and I have retold each other several times. It’s not the kind of story you share with friends or colleagues, because they wouldn’t get that it’s just so papa. But I think it’s worth retelling again today.
First a little background. My brother and I grew up in a quiet bedroom community with very little excitement. At some point, my brother painted this really colourful image of downtown Toronto and it got in my head that visiting the shops there was such an important thing to do.
And I did get there, at the age of 13 or so, during a weekend visit to Papa and Josie’s orange door cottage home on Langmuir. It was such an adventure for me, being downtown on Queen St, that I spent part of my expedition making a long distance payphone call back to my quiet bedroom community to regale my parents about this wondrous activity I was in the middle of.
My mom, with healthy concern, wanted to know how her son was alone in the city after being left in her father’s care. So I explained:
Papa asked me what I wanted to do today, I said I wanted to see some places downtown. So, he handed me some subway tokens and a map, pointing out the nearest subway station and the orange door cottage home on Langmuir.
He let me know when dinner would be on and sent me on my way. That very meaningful gesture of independence... It’s just so papa. Thank you, papa.


(5 of 75)