A memorial bench in honour of Bud Abbott, a pillar of the Cranbrook community for decades, was unveiled at the Studio Stage Door on Saturday morning in front of a large crowd.
The bench, created by local artist Paul Reimer, features a sculpted outline of Bud Abbott playing the trombone, while a memorial plaque includes descriptions of the deep-rooted legacy he planted in the community, the fruit of which remains indelible.
The plaque also has a QR code; simply scan the code with the camera feature on a cellphone and visitors will be directed to a special webpage with photos, videos and stories about Bud.
In a touching connection, the outline of the sculpture was lifted from a photograph taken by Sally Passey, a similarly beloved community member who recently passed away.
Peter Schalk, the president of the Cranbrook Community Theatre Society, along with Abbott’s daughters, Louise Abbott and Becky Walters, pulled the tarp away to applause, before taking a seat.
Louise Abbott spoke about personal benefits of volunteerism, which expands social circles, broadens knowledge in many areas and adds to longevity, while reflecting on her father’s community legacy.
“He would have been really proud of this moment,” Abbott said. “He would have been dumbfounded, he would have been overwhelmed, he would have been very humbled. He’d be up here telling you about all the other people that were involved in his life and how important they were to this. And he would have felt they needed to be honoured as well.
”We’re very proud as a family, and you should be very proud as a community.”
Local musicians Jamie Neve, Randy Marchi and Doug Mitchell also performed a song written about, and dedicated, to Abbott. Written by Mitchell, the song featured Marchi on the trombone, the same instrument that Abbott picked up later in life to learn a new instrument.
The range of Bud’s volunteerism is vast.
In no particular order of importance, Abbott was a longtime volunteer with the Cranbrook Community Theatre Society, Cranbrook Rotary Club — always leading the national anthem — Meals on Wheels, Canadian Mental Health Association, and the Cranbrook Arts Council, just to name a few.
He participated in a barbershop quartet, community choirs, Locals music, and a singing group known as “Bud’s Friends.”
But one of his lasting contributions to the community is his efforts to save the Studio Stage Door from demolition in the 1970s.
Abbott, along with others, convinced the city to purchase the old Masonic Temple and turn it’s stewardship over to the Cranbrook Community Theatre Society, where it now serves as a thriving theatrical arts and performance venue.
“All in all, Bud was the citizen that everyone wanted to emulate and it seems appropriate that he be our representative of volunteerism in Cranbrook,” said Schalk.
Local elected officials also touched on Abbott’s impact during speeches, while Leanne Jensen, Cranbrook Rotary Club president, also spoke about his propensity to follow club rules as well as the inter-generational impact on youth, including her daughter, Jelena, when she teenager.
He was recognized as Cranbrook’s Citizen of the Year in 1992, and was honoured with the Queen Elizabeth II Golden Jubilee Medal for outstanding community achievement in 2002.
Born in England, Abbott served with the British naval forces in the Second World War before coming to Canada — and Cranbrook — in 1960. He passed away in 2019 at 98 years of age.
A committee dedicated to bringing Bud’s Bench to life was formed last summer.