Bud Abbott was honoured by the B.C. government on Thursday, as Kootenay East MLA Bill Bennett awarded him with a Medal of Good Citizenship.
The award recognizes individuals who, through exceptional long-term service, have made outstanding contributions to their communities without the expectation of renumeration or reward.
Abbott has been active for many, many years in various organizations in Cranbrook including the Cranbrook Community Theatre, the Rotary Club, the Canadian Mental Health Association of the East Kootenay, The Heart and Stroke Foundation, among many others.
Presented by Bennett during a monthly lunch meeting of the Rotary Club, Abbott humbly accepted the honour.
“I cannot recall doing anything that would merit receiving this prestigious award,” Abbott said. “Maybe it’s just a tribute to endurance, stature. Whatever the reason, I accept it gladly, with some hesitation, but of course, with pride. It is a great honour.”
Abbott has lived in Cranbrook since 1960, moving into the B.C. Interior after a brief stay in North Vancouver following a move from his home country of England.
Known for his love of the arts—specifically theatre—Abbott recalled his first ever role during a production while stationed in Northern Ireland with the British Royal Navy in 1946.
“The station commander there decided to put on a play, a Christmas pantomime — Cinderella,” Abbott said. “After a very brief audition, they decided I was just right for the part of the ugly sister.
“It’s nice to fit somewhere.”
When the Abbott and his family arrived in Cranbrook, he immediately got involved with the Cranbrook Community Theatre, and became president when the board first formed in 1964. For over 50 years, he’s served in various capacities on that board, including three terms as president.
In 1973, he helped save the old masonic temple—now known as the Studio Stage Door—from being turned into a parking lot, which has been transformed to host CCT’s productions, among other performances, over the years.
However, it’s not just in theatre where Abbott has made his mark; off the stage, Abbott has been involved with the Rotary Club, the Key City Theatre, the downtown clock tower and many other annual events such as Sam Steele Days and Canada Day celebrations.
He’s volunteered with the Canadian Mental Health Association of the East Kootenays from 1994 to 2009 and helped deliver the Meals on Wheels program for 14 years until the program ended. Now, he still delivers lunches to schools on behalf of the Salvation Army.
“Bud Abbott is a man who cares very deeply about his community and the people who live here,” said Louise Abbott, his daughter. “He loves to see people doing well. He loves to applaud them as they succeed.”
Though Abbot isn’t doing much acting these days, he still gets out into the community with ‘Budden Frenz’ a small group of singers who perform a few times a week at places such as the Green Home and Joseph’s Creek.
“One major benefit of this activity, is that it keeps us off the streets,” Abbot joked. “The cops know where we are.”
Bennett said the Medal of Good Citizenship is a program that the province uses to honour and celebrate ordinary people who lead extraordinary lives.
“Most everyone in the Kootenay area will know the contributions that Bud Abbott has made to our community and region,” Bennett said. “The social fabric here is stronger for his work, all done without expectation of reward.
“In presenting this honour to him, we can together celebrate him and all he has done.”