Photography

William "Bill" Thomas Abbott Jr.

May 18, 1946 ~ November 26, 2023 (age 77) 77 Years Old

Tribute

William (“Bill”) Thomas Abbott, Jr., of New Orleans, died in his home overlooking Bayou St. John on November 26, 2023, after a brief but valiant battle with cancer, at the age of 77.  Though he wanted it to be known that he “liked dogs more than people, and liked people more than they generally liked him,” in his final days he was surrounded by both a pair of adoring dogs and an eclectic array of loving friends and family. 

Bill was born in New Orleans at Hospital Hotel Dieu on May 18, 1946, to the late Miriam Cooney Abbott and William Thomas Abbott.  He grew up in the Gentilly neighborhood, attended Sam Barthe Elementary School, and graduated from Jesuit High School in 1963.  He earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from Tulane University in 1967, where he was a member of the Beta Theta Pi fraternity and Phi Delta Phi legal fraternity.  He went on to earn a Juris Doctor degree from Tulane Law School in 1970.  An eternal student, forty-five years later he received a Masters of Arts degree in English Literature from the University of New Orleans, and continued his studies at Oxford University in the United Kingdom every summer until his last.

He began his professional career working as a reporter and writer for the States Item and Times Picayune newspapers and WDSU.  After graduating from law school, he worked briefly as an Assistant U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Louisiana before relocating to New York City in 1972 for a job with NBC Television.  At NBC, he worked his way up to become Senior Counsel and Assistant General Counsel and was responsible for overseeing significant libel, privacy and fairness litigation; handling government relations for the network; and managing confidential and sensitive “special entertainment matters” during the early years of Saturday Night Live.  Over the years, he alluded vaguely to what those “special” SNL matters entailed—reigning in intoxicated celebrity guests and cast members, discouraging workplace shenanigans, and attempting to keep the “FTC censor beeps” to a minimum being chief among them—but luckily for the survivors, he took the details of those infamous escapades to his grave.

In 1984, Bill returned to New Orleans to join the firm of Fowler, Brian, Hardy & Zatzkis. He later established a private law practice specializing in communications, cable television, intellectual property, advertising and art law.  Bill enjoyed the practice of law until his last days, and over the years also volunteered as Chairman of the Intellectual Property Committee of the New Orleans Bar Association, President of the IP section of the Louisiana State Bar, and Fellow with the Loyola Institute of Politics.  He served as a Lecturer and Adjunct professor at UNO, Xavier, Loyola, and Tulane Law School; published numerous legal articles; and until the end sought to educate those around him on current legal, political and social issues of interest to him.  He loved being a lawyer, and took great pride in his family’s tradition in the law. His Nesser aunts were long time employees of the East Baton Rouge Parish Clerk of Court, his mother was among the first female lawyers admitted to the bar in Louisiana, and his daughter and nephew followed in the family legal tradition.

Bill was married for many years to Marianne Weinhold, and together they had two children, Sarah Catherine Abbott (Michael Reed) and Henry Fulbrook Abbott (Leigh Figh), who survive him.  He also has a surviving child Katharine Barrett from a later union.  In his later years, “Grandpa Bill” was an exceptional grand-parent to Henry and Jack Abbott of Birmingham, Alabama, and Nolan and Clara Reed of Tiburon, California.  But the final loves of his life ultimately proved to be his dogs, Omlette and Jolie, who were by his side until his last breath.  Other important companions there until the end included Whitney Armentor, Phyllis Raabe, his sister and brother-in-law Mary Margaret Abbott Hevron and Dr. John “Bub” Ellis Hevron, and his Bayou St. John neighbors and friends.

Bill had countless lifelong hobbies, chief among them:  golf, table tennis, tennis, badminton, biking, art and furniture restoration, painting and sculpture, natural history, literature, telling off-color jokes, and buying things he did not need at garage sales and thrift stores.  He was intensely proud of his writing ability, his diverse and lasting friendships, and most of all his children and grandchildren.  He was a lifelong Christian.

Friends and relatives are invited to attend a visitation and memorial at Jacob Schoen & Son Funeral Home, 3827 Canal St, on Monday, December 11th, 2023.  Public visitation will be from 9-11 am, with a memorial service immediately following at 11am.  In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations to Bridge House of New Orleans or a charity of your choice in Bill’s memory. 

To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of William "Bill" Thomas Abbott Jr., please visit our floral store.


Services

Visitation
Monday
December 11, 2023

9:00 AM to 11:00 AM
Jacob Schoen & Son Funeral Home
3827 Canal Street
New Orleans, LA 70119

Memorial Service
Monday
December 11, 2023

11:00 AM
Jacob Schoen & Son - J. Garic Schoen Chapel
3827 Canal St.
New Orleans, LA 70119

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