John Abajian


John Abajian
Dec. 9, 1919 - March 2, 2012

John George Abajian passed away at his home at Wheatland Village on Friday, March 2, 2012. A celebration of life will be held at the Walla Walla Country Club on Friday, March 9, 2012, at 11 a.m. A private interment will be held. Memorial contributions may be made to the YMCA, Shriners Children's Hospital of Spokane, or charity of choice through the Herring Funeral Home.

John was born Dec. 9, 1919, in Bell, Calif., to George and Thelma Abajian. One of six children, John was the first to be born in America. John attended grade school through high school in Los Angeles. When World War II broke out, John joined the army and was accepted into Flight School, which became the Army Air Force. John piloted 28 missions in a B-24 out of England over enemy territory and received many commendations for heroism. After his combat tour ended, he was sent to Walla Walla Air Base to train pilots. Here, he met Mary Lou Hooper at the air base and they married on Oct. 18, 1945. They had four children, Jim, Kelly, Rich and Scott.

After the war, John went to work for Sears Roebuck. He became its number one salesperson and was noticed by the Ford dealer, Bill Teague. John went into a partnership with Bill Teague, John Brownell and Bill Lake, and was at Teague Motor Co. from 1940-1969 as the used car manager. In 1969, John sold his interest in Teague Motor Co., and took over the Walla Walla Disposal Company, which he had started with his father-in-law many years earlier. He owned and managed this business until 1980 when he sold out and retired. All during this time, John was in the Air Force Reserve, retiring as a lieutenant colonel.

John was a 60-year-plus member of the YMCA. He started out playing volleyball, slow-break basketball, handball and later paddleball, which became racketball. John was a regular at the Y, going every day and hanging out with all his buddies. He brought a smile to many people's faces at the Y. He never met a person he wouldn't strike up a conversation with, asking questions only he could ask. John was also a very active member of the Blue Mountain Shrine Club. He was in the Cycle Patrol and drove his cycle in many parades. John was a strong supporter of the Shriners Children's Hospital in Spokane. He was also a member of the Walla Walla Country Club and various organizations. He was a lifetime member of the Reserve Officers Association.

John and Mary Lou traveled all over the USA in a motorhome for many years after retirement. They went on many trips to foreign countries and loved to travel. Late in life, John still drove his cycle to Safeway, McDonald's, and the Dollar Store, attending coffee groups and looking for good deals, generally without his helmet on. Scolded more than once, he carried his helmet in his basket as if that would help. John was an avid golfer starting late in life, but always willing to bet a quarter on the round with his buddies, generally whether he won or lost the quarter, there would be a lot of discussion about the quarter after the round.

John is survived by his wife, Mary Lou at the home; son, Jim and Rhonda Abajian of Walla Walla; daughter, Kelly and Pat Welch of Del Mar, Calif.; son, Rich and JoAnn Abajian of Las Vegas, Nev.; and son, Scott and Mary Abajian of Walla Walla; six grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren.

Friends and family are invited to sign the online guest book at


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