Brooklyn-born, Mr. Abbenante was an educator for 40 years, as a teacher, coach, and administrator. He served as a Navy Hospital Corpsman in 1945-1946 before entering college. Of his 40 years of service, 30 were with the Mission School District and the remaining years with Central Islip Union Free School District in Central Islip, New York.
He earned a bachelor’s degree from North Texas State University in Denton and a master's degree from Hofstra University in New York. He furthered his education by earning a superintendent’s certificate from Pan American University in Edinburg.
Mr. Abbenante accepted a teaching and coaching position in 1951 at Mission High School and served eight years as a varsity coach in football, basketball and baseball. He led Mission to its first 16-AAA basketball title. In 1959 he returned to New York to continue his teaching and coaching career in the Central Islip School District.
In 1969, he returned to Mission to accept to become principal at Castro Elementary School. After one year, he moved to the high school as an assistant principal for five years and then completed 16 years of service as principal of Mission Junior High.
He volunteered in activities such as the Mission Boys and Girls Club, the Mission Track Fund Committee, fund raising efforts for scholarships to junior high students, and financial assistance for orphanages in Northern Mexico.
Mr. Abbenante is survived by his wife, Sylvia Lujan Abbenante; children, Jeanne Keck, Josephine Abbenante, Kathryn Howell, Mary Avenanti, Anne Lawhon, Francis Daniel Abbenante, Susan Abbenante, Grace Rivers, Cristina Smith and John Michael Abbenante; step-daughter, Veronica Sevilla; 28 grandchildren, 13 great-grandchildren, and two great-great-grandchildren.
He was preceded in death by his parents, Giuseppa Turco Abbenante and Francesco Abbenante; sisters, Jean Abbenante Ardito and Rita Abbenante Sciarrone; and a granddaughter, Michelle Keck.
The funeral mass was held Dec. 4 at Our Lady of Guadalupe Catholic Church in Mission. Burial followed at Valley Memorial Gardens Cemetery in McAllen. Services were under the direction of Ric Brown Family Funeral Home in Mission.
Pallbearers were his grandsons, James Longoria, Shawn Engels, Michael Warren Keck, Jay Engels, and Johnny Ray Howell; and Humberto Lozano and Sam Rodio.
Honorary pallbearers were Dick Dooley, Tino Cavazos, Don Horton, Joe Roseland, Tino Cavazos, Mateo Cavazos, Adolfo Huerta, Dick Volz, Kenneth White, Ciro Ochoa Sr., Art Guerra, Bob Trdla, Ray Chapa, Tom Costello, Tom Reiley, Phil Williams, Jack Barry, Dave Ridgeway, Tommy Black, Chuck Black, John DiClimente, and Doug Carpluck.
Memorial donations may be made to the John F. Abbenante Leadership Scholarship Fund, 2517 E. 4 Mile Road, Mission, TX 78573.
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The Progress Times is the hometown newspaper for the local communities of Mission, Sharyland, Alton, Palmview, La Joya and surrounding areas in Western Hidalgo County. We have a staff of veteran reporters who work diligently every week to bring our readers the latest news as it affects their hometown area and people.