Boat ramp to honor regular who loved to fish at Arkansas lake

Posted: November 6, 2017 at 4:30 a.m.

FAYETTEVILLE -- Anyone who has gone to Lake Fayetteville in the past 50 years probably saw L.D. "Abby" Abbiatti out on his boat. Or at least he saw them.

Abbiatti died in August at the age of 88. The man loved to fish, and did so nearly every day. Lake Fayetteville was his favorite spot.

On Tuesday, the City Council will formally name the boat ramp at the lake after Abbiatti. A commemorative sign will follow.

The Parks and Recreation Advisory Board deemed Abbiatti's presence at the lake historically significant after a recommendation from one of his sons, said Byron Humphry, parks maintenance supervisor.

"We went that route and felt like his contribution was everyone knowing who he was in the fishing community," he said. "It was fitting for the boat ramp."

Mike Abbiatti, who is retired from the Arkansas Research and Optical Education Network and lives in Colorado, said his father was a man who actually got to do what he loved most -- a rarity these days, he said.

"He used to agonize over the water temperature at Lake Fayetteville," Mike Abbiatti said. "That's not usual for someone his age. He was an extremely bright guy. He could grasp all those conceptual frameworks -- he could think about algae blooms at age 88."

Lowell Dean Abbiatti grew up in Carthage, Mo., and spent 35 years working for Goodyear. The tire and rubber company used to have shops across the country and it was L.D. Abbiatti's job to get the new ones up and running.

He stopped moving around once he got to Fayetteville. At that point, he had a wife and three children and was ready to settle down. It didn't take long for him to discover the lake.

Bill Ramsey, longtime state legislator and former head of the Chamber of Commerce, worked with "Abby" at two of those Fayetteville stores. Ramsey never did get a chance to fish with him, but he knew L.D. Abbiatti as patient and a good role model.

"He had a way with words and he had a way with people," Ramsey said. "He was a good salesman and he was always upbeat. He was always positive."

Mike Abbiatti said he and his siblings basically grew up on Lake Fayetteville. But it wasn't the only place the elder Abbiatti cast a line.

From Lake Sequoyah to resorts in Canada to Lake Guerrero in Mexico, his father was an avid fisherman. Neighbors would ask him to take their sons out to the lake to see how it's done. When L.D. Abbiatti's friends started having trouble getting around, he rolled them into the boat.

"He knew every incline in Lake Fayetteville. He knew everywhere that you would fish for a very particular type of fish," Mike Abbiatti said. "He would do everything he could to teach not only the safe way to fish, but the basics."

As L.D. Abbiatti got older, he started to need some help himself. His family and staff at the lake banded together to get him a pontoon boat, which was easier to move around in than the 1980s bass boat.

One of the local fishermen and the marina manager, Al Perea, helped "Abby" get the vessel on the lake in later years.

"The lake was his life," Perea said. "He came out as much as he could."

L.D. Abbiatti died on a Monday. He had been fishing the previous Friday.

Despite growing up with it, Mike Abbiatti said fishing never really stuck with him. It was a different story for his brother, Larry Abbiatti. Their father used to leave him on the boat in the mornings to figure things out for himself while L.D. Abbiatti went to work. It paid off.

"Abby" was married to his wife, Betty, for 69 years. She's doing well, living near Lake Fayetteville. She can visit her husband, in a sense.

Mike and Larry Abbiatti decided to start a new tradition. Every year on Sept. 30, their father's birthday, they'll go out to the lake and fish.

Metro on 11/06/2017