Sixty-one years ago, a young woman from central Texas boarded a Pullman railroad car bound for Troup, Texas. From the Troup railroad station she boarded a bus bound for Tyler Junior College (TJC) and an interview for her first teaching position. For the next 44 years, Johnny Armstrong Abbey, Ph.D., would be on staff at the college as professor of office technology.
Dr. Abbey, now retired from TJC, is an active and dedicated servant of the Tyler community. As a member of the Delta Kappa Gamma Society International, an honorary society for women educators, she has served as the local chapter president and assisted in organizing the fifth chapter in Smith County. Dr. Abbey is the recipient of the Chapter Achievement Award and the Alpha State Achievement Award. She is a member of the Alpha Delta Pi Alumnae Association, the Alpha Delta Pi Foundation, and the Tyler Junior College Alumni Association, which awarded Dr. Abbey with the Outstanding Teacher of the Year Award. She is also a member of the Smith County Retired Teachers and School Personnel Association.
Dr. Abbey is a member of the Tyler Woman’s Forum, the Tyler Woman’s Building Board, Inc., the Women’s Symphony League of Tyler, the Salvation Army Women’s Auxiliary, and the Alzheimer’s Alliance of Smith County. She is also active with the Smith County Historical Society and the Camp Ford Historical Society. Trinity Mother Frances Hospital also benefits from the volunteer time Dr. Abbey provides each week in the Intensive Care Unit’s Family Waiting Area.
“Volunteering with these various organizations allows me to serve others, and such service brings a ‘Christian smile’ to my face. Sometimes such a gesture is all that I can offer, yet many times I receive a smile in return. Such an exchange of feelings is certainly worth the few seconds that a smile requires,” Dr. Abbey said. “I certainly believe ‘Christian smiles’ are contagious!”
Dr. Abbey was born in Godley, Texas. She is a graduate of Cleburne High School in Cleburne, Texas, and she earned her associate’s degree from North Texas Agricultural College in Arlington, Texas, now known as The University of Texas at Arlington. Dr. Abbey received her bachelor’s degree and her master’s degree from The University of Texas at Austin and she earned her doctorate degree from East Texas State University in Commerce, Texas, now known as Texas A&M University – Commerce. Dr. Abbey and the late William A. Abbey, Jr. were married 31 years and are the parents of two adult daughters, Kristin and Donna, and have one granddaughter, Abbey.
As a member of Marvin United Methodist Church, Dr. Abbey has served on various committees and is a Sunday school teacher. She is a member of the United Methodist Women and was the recipient of the Missions Recognition Pin. Dr. Abbey is the treasurer of the Tyler Council of Church Women.
“What a privilege I have by living in Tyler, which is such a giving community,” Dr. Abbey said. “I continue to marvel (at) its generosity and its willingness to share. Then, after more than four decades, I became eligible to serve this city of mine in another capacity – volunteerism. After all, isn’t that what it’s all about, serving others?”