Melvin Nissell Abend


Melvin N. Abend, H'60 respected surgeon; avid fan of crossword puzzles, the Atlanta Braves, and very bad jokes; and beloved husband, father, and grandfather, died in his Atlanta home on December 19, 2011 after a life well-lived.

He was born in Boston in 1938, son of the late Solomon Abend and Gertrude Fogelman Abend. As a young man, he displayed a talent for the piano, but decided to pursue a career in medicine. He met his future wife, Barbara, when they were both 14; they celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary this year. In between, he attended Boston Latin School, Harvard College, and Tufts University medical school, served as Chief Resident at Boston City Hospital, and welcomed three children: Lisa, Emily, and Andrew.

He was a major in the US Army and served at a field hospital in Vietnam from 1970-71. In 1973, he moved his family to Atlanta, where he practiced general surgery at Shallowford/Emory Dunwoody, Northside, and St. Josephıs hospitals. Over the course of his 39-year career, he served several times as Chief of Surgery and President of Medical Staff, and he was the physician other doctors called on when they themselves needed care. Illness finally forced him to retire in early December 2011.

His passions were many. First and foremost came his wife Barbara, with whom he maintained a lifelong romance. He also loved visiting his children in their sometimes far-flung homes; attending his grandchildren Joshua and Zacharyıs every soccer game; and playing marbles with his grandson Ethan. He had a talent for inspiring his patientsı trust, maintaining close friendships, arranging the weekly bouquets he bought his wife, and making a mean gumbo.

He relished spirited conversation, good films, and heartfelt laughter. Whether reading historical biographies or exploring foreign cities, he was driven by an ongoing sense of curiosity and love of learning. One day just before his death, as his family members were trying too hard to bring him the right soda and get him the right pillows, he interrupted them."Remember," he said. "Perfection is the enemy of the good." He should know. He was a good man.

He is survived by his wife, Barbara Kline Abend; his children Lisa Abend, Emily Abend Piassick, and Andrew Abend; his daughter-in-law Sarah Chane Abend; his son-in-law Louis Piassick, his three granchildren, and his brother Aaron Abend and sister-in-law Charlotte OıHearn Abend. His funeral is scheduled to take place at the Temple, 1589 Peachtree Street, at 10am on December 21. In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to The Temple Endowment Fund, The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, and Weinstein Hospice.