James Allen Abel

July 14, 1960 ‒ April 15, 2020

Westerville, Ohio

James Allen Abel “Jamie”, age 59, of Westerville, OH, hiked into eternity at 9:22AM on Wednesday, April 15, 2020 from Mount Carmel St. Ann’s Hospital.

Abel will be laid to rest at a future date with full military honors at Ohio Western Reserve National Cemetery in Seville, OH. A celebration of Jamie’s life will be held in a natural setting, per his wishes, at a future date.

Jamie was born July 14, 1960, in Decatur, Illinois the son of Ron Abel (Patricia) of Oreana, Illinois, and Nancy (Marshall) Conway of Decatur, IL. He earned an Associate’s Degree in Psychology in 1980 from Richland Community College, a Bachelor’s Degree in Graphic Arts in 1982 from Illinois State University and a Master’s Degree in Counseling Psychology in 1992 from Heidelberg College. He graduated as the Distinguished Honor Graduate from the Defense Information School in 1984 and took graduate courses in marketing at the C.W. Post campus of Long Island University in 1985. In 1995, he earned accreditation from the Public Relations Society of America. He also studied the Russian language at the Defense Language School in 1983-1984 and at The Ohio State University in 2011-2014.

In 1984, he married Shannon (Eckard) Abel, calling her his “soulmate.” Jamie served in the Public Affairs Office at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point NY. He went on to then serve for 13 years as Director of College Relations at Heidelberg College, (now Heidelberg University), in Tiffin, Ohio. After that, he served as Assistant Director of Communications at the Ohio Board of Regents. Most recently, he was the Director of Communications for the Ohio Technology Consortium (OH-TECH) where he led the Outreach Group in support of the communications needs of the consortium, including organizational members Ohio Supercomputer Center (OSC) and Ohio Academic Resources Network (OARnet).

In addition to his work activities Jamie was also President of The Genoa Township Land Conservation Association, an Ohio Certified Volunteer Naturalist, Member of The Central Ohio Hiking Club, Eagle Scout and a Member of these Masonic entities: Pilgrim Lodge No. 691 F&AM; Union Chapter No. 15, RAM; Union Council No. 2, R&SM; Steubenville Commandery No. 11, Knights Templar; Claddagh Council No. 86, Knight Masons (Treasurer and Founding Member); 32* Ancient Accepted Scottish Rite, Valley of Steubenville.

Surviving are his beloved wife of 36 years, Shannon Kathleen Abel; daughter, Stephanie Leigh Abel-Riot (Johnny) of Akron, OH; grandson, Victor Clash Riot; mother, Nancy Carol Conway of Decatur, IL; father-in-law, James Chester Eckard of Wintersville, OH; brother, Donald Wayne Abel (Sally) of Tallahassee, FL; sister, Bethany Ann Jones (Steven) of Edelstein, IL; brother, Brian Dean Abel (Deanna) of Decatur, IL; step-sisters, Cynthia Ryan Sleeth of Oreana, IL and Kathleen Ryan Mahoney (Reg) of Virginia Beach, VA; step-brothers, William Lloyd Ryan (Jody) of Decatur, IL and Steven Edward Ryan (Angel) of Oreana, IL, Joseph Duane Conway (Natalie) of Decatur, IL; step-sisters, Penny Jean Bell (Chan) of Cadiz, KY, Marcy Ann Binkley (Victor) of Warrensburg, IL, Jody Lynn Bourn (Barry) of Kenney, IL, Amy Sue Rainey of Sherman, IL; brothers-in-law, James Chester Eckard II and Timothy Sean Eckard; nieces and nephews, Julian Abel, Katie Abel, Kelly Jones, Haley Jones, Jay Eckard, Cary Eckard and Holly Eckard; godson, Samuel Pollock; several aunts and numerous cousins. James was preceded in death by son, Justin David Abel; father, Ron Abel; step-mother, Patricia Abel; step-father, Marshall Conway.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in his name to The National Park Foundation, The Heidelberg University Student Emergency Support Fund or Wexner Center for the Arts.

The DeVore-Snyder Funeral Home of Sunbury is honored to serve the Abel family.  Please share a memory or condolence with the family on this website.

  • Dear Shannon, Stephanie and the rest of the family,

    We are so grateful for the gift of Jamie on this earth. His love of nature and his kindness of people brought a perfect blend of love on this earth.

    My condolences to each of you as you navigate thru this.

    I was a friend of Shannon and Jamie thru Heidelberg.

    My prayers and thoughts are with all of you.

    Love, Ellen Beckemeyer

  • What a beautiful tribute! RIP and Fly high Jamie! Another angel to watch over his love of his life and his entire family. Love to you all.

  • I am still in disbelief. I love you guys. I still have the CD that Jamie made me years ago with every song that was probably ever written with West Virginia in the lyrics. I laughed at him but it was one of the nicest things that anyone has ever done for me. He always called me Mickey. But he was the only one who was even allowed to do that. Thanks for all of the laughs and the friendship that you gave me throughout the years. I love you Shannon and Steph!!!

  • What a beautiful tribute. Rest in peace and fly high Jamie! My heart breaks for you Shannon and family. A beautiful soul gone much to soon. Love and prayers.

  • Shannon, Stephanie, and family,

    I have no words to describe how badly I feel for you on the loss of Jamie. Yet, I am, and I hope you are, comforted by his ultimate gift of tissue and organ donation that others may have a better life. Let our love help buoy you as you negotiate the coming days. You are not alone.

    We love you,
    Tom, Sharon, and Emily

  • Shannon, your husband sounds like a wonderful man. We are so sorry for your loss. Praying for you and your family. My God help grant you all peace.?

    Kent and Julie Ault

  • Shannon, Stephanie, and family,
    Every time I see a sunset, I will think of Jamie. Every time I see a train, I will see Jaimie smiling at Victor, and everyday I will be grateful to have known him, although I had no idea he was as deeply accomplished as this beautiful tribute reveals. I’m sure that is because he never acted like he was the smartest guy in the room, even though he probably often was.
    I will remember Jamie’s uncanny knack with the camera, his love of his family, and his gift of life to others.

    I love you all, always,

  • He was the greatest guy and the nicest guy. He made everyone feel worthwhile.

    Friend from the hiking club.

  • Shannon , Stephanie, and family. My heart aches for you all in this time of sorrow. Jamie was a wonderful, smart, kind man and I am sure he is watching over you .Please know you are not alone! We are always here for you!!
    Heidi Schoen

  • We are so sorry about Jamie’s passing. You’re in our thoughts and prayers

  • Jamie was a brother Mason and a friend. He loved his family, nature, and justice. He will be missed, but remembered fondly as a man of principle and conviction, of gentleness and of love.

  • Shannon and Family, So sorry to hear of Jamie’s passing . I only knew him for a short time through the hiking group. He was a super nice guy and was a great photographer for our group . Heaven has gained a beautiful soul . God bless you all .

  • I learned so much about Jamie by reading the obiturary. I only saw a sliver of who he was, but what a wonderful man. Love to you and Stephanie.

  • I have only the fondest memories of Jamie from Heidelberg. Working on Streetcar with him was something I will always treasure. My heart goes out to you all.

  • We in Central Ohio Hiking Club so enjoyed hiking time spent with him. He was always taking pictures of nature and sharing with us his finds. He lead many hikes to different places and took care that all were safely on the right path. He will be missed by all. We give his wife Shannon and family our sympathy for her loss.

  • Shannon, Stephanie, Johnny and Victor ( aka: Little Burrito),

    Several days removed from Jamie’s passing and there are still not adequate words…although my experience with Jamie has been limited to a couple of years, my life and experiences are much richer because of him. I quickly formed deep respect, admiration and brotherly love for the man he was. I will surely miss time with him, his humor, his wisdom, his intellect and his passion for his family and creation/nature.

    Please know, he loved you all deeply and spoke of you frequently with love, compassion and endearing stories…

    Blessings, peace and rest…

    Tim Hubbell

  • Jamie’s family,

    Jamie was a wonderful soul, he will be missed. I was a member of Central Ohio Hicking Club and found that Jamie took care of his fellow hickers plus took wonderful pictures. Bless your family and friends. Martha Brown

  • My condolences to the people in Jamie’s family coping with their loss during these already stressful times. When the Central Ohio Hiking Club resumes its nature walks, there will be a void. He often disappeared into the woods and suddenly reappeared at the head of the line so he would be in position to take pictures. I am sure many of us will be expecting him to appear any minute. He will be missed.

  • My sincere sympathy to you, Shanon and your family, on your loss. I knew Jamie a little through the Central Ohio Hiking Club and appreciated that he even participated on some of our Senior Hikes.

  • So sorry for your loss.
    Jamie had such a generous heart and soul. It was always such a pleasure to share walks and conversations with him. He made sure our Central Ohio Hiking Club had variety in the many places around Ohio we hiked. He was a kind leader on many of these and always encouraged us.
    He will be missed.
    Blessings to all.
    Diane Smith

  • Jamie was one of a kind…curious,funny, and so knowledgeable about so many things. I can’t imagine hiking without him! We are all better for knowing him…so very sorry for your loss.

  • Shannon and family….We hiked with Jamie for only one year in the Central Ohio Hiking Club and just loved Jamie. We had no idea he was so accomplished in so many other areas of life. He enjoyed the outdoors and hiking so much. We will all be feeling a huge void in the Club. Please accept our sincere condolences for your loss. Our thoughts and prayers are with you.

  • It was a privilege to work with Jamie here at Heidelberg; he was a trusted colleague and friend. We missed him when he left Tiffin, and we will miss him even more now. Shannon, Stephanie, and family–please know that you are in our thoughts and prayers.

  • I was privileged to work with Jamie at OSC from 2003 to 2009. He was always cheerful, helpful, and kind to all around him. Having not seen him frequently since 2009, I was delighted when he sought me out at the November 2019 SC conference, and I cherish the time we spent, brief that it was, in catching up. When I heard the news, I immediately knew how blessed I was to have been able to see him one more time.

    My thoughts and prayers are with all of his family, and with all of his friends. He was an amazing person.

  • My condolences to Jamie’s family. Jamie and I were friends at Richland Community College in Decatur and were roommates for a year at Illinois State.

  • Jamie’s passing was deeply felt by our family.

    Thank you for the beautiful tribute to his life.

    He was always the quiet type growing up with him as a cousin but you always knew that he cared about you personally.
    Our family reunions have become fewer but I always enjoyed spending time with him.

  • I so enjoyed our talks while hiking and canoeing with Jamie as members of C.O.H.C and A.O.A (Appalachia Ohio Alliance). He had a love of trains, nature, photography and learning but most of all, love for his family. My deepest sympathy to the Jamie Able family.

    • Thanks Jerry. We all miss him very much. Jamie was a really great brother and all around person.
      Regards, Don

  • Shannon, my heart goes out to you and your family. Jamie was the consummate family man–always sharing photos and stories of concerts and travels he took with you, a proud dad sharing the news article about Stephanie’s Leap Day wedding, and Victor, well, we never got enough of Victor! (And neither did he!)

    As a friend and colleague, he was tremendously proud and protective of his Communications Team at OH-TECH, challenging and growing them into better professionals and people.

    I will miss his casual style and his ceaseless resiliency, and his knowing just the right thing to say because he took the time to know each of us a little better.

  • What a beautiful tribute to a very accomplished young man. I only knew Jamie as a youngster since we were neighbors. His mom is a good friend. My deepest sympathy to his family and friends. My prayer is that God’s loving care will comfort them.

  • I sincerely enjoyed walking and talking with Jamie, we shared a love of nature and photography. My condolences to all the family and many friends, he truly exemplified who all men should aspire to be.

  • I attended Illinois State University with Jamie during the early 1980s. We lived across the hall from each other in 8th Floor Wilkins (part of Tri-Towers on the west side of campus). I was always amazed at the things Jamie was doing for his graphic arts courses. Last August, we had a reunion of guys connected to the floor and I reached out to Jamie to see if he could make it and if he wanted his contact information released in a booklet. Unfortunately, Jamie didn’t make it but replied:

    “Please put my information in the book. I’ll probably be in the woods somewhere when you guys get together, but I’ll be reciting the Wilkins Eight Victory Chant with all of you! –Jamie.

    Jamie was also an employee of the Garcia’s “Pizza in a Pan” franchise to make a little money on the side during his ISU days as well. With a little prodding, I was able to get the recipe (or facsimile of) that we used & enjoyed off-campus & beyond for years.

    Too many years have passed since we met & lived at ISU. Deepest condolences from the guys at Illinois State University to the Abel family on Jamie’s passing. Jamie had all the traits (and surpassed) of what is good in mankind.

  • Dear Shannon,
    I was so sorry to hear of Jamie’s passing. I remember the days when he was working with Bob at Heidelberg. I always wondered how he could keep up the pace with all of the irons he had in the fire. Bob thought the same but he enjoyed working with him anyway. My thoughts and prayers are with you at this sorrowful time. Jamie will be missed by many.

    Gayle Joyce

  • Shannon and family, Just heard of your loss, always hate too here another friend and neighbor has moved on. He will surely be missed. prayers for you and your family.