Wilmington- Rebecca Abel Willey, age 99, passed away peacefully on Friday, March 29, 2019
She was born in her home, a farm in Leeds, MD to the late Minnie (Bouchelle) and John Abel, Jr. Rebecca graduated from Elkton HS and from the Womens College of the University of Delaware in 1940 with a Bachelors Degree in Mathematics and a certificate to teach high school mathematics and chemistry. With no openings for a teaching position available, she entered Beacom College, where she was offered a position and spent the next 42 years. A merger formed Goldey Beacom College where Rebecca held many teaching and administrative position. They included Academic Dean, Vice President of Academic Affairs, and Secretary to the Board of Trustees. She retired in 1984 with the rank of Distinguished Professor. Prior to her retirement a dorm was built and dedicated in her honor, Rebecca Abel Hall. One week later, Rebecca changed her name to Rebecca Abel Willey, when she married Russell W. Willey, a Sunday school classmate the 5 previous years.
At age 5 she started attending Leeds Protestant Methodist Church and was active in the Junior Christian Endeavor, later she taught Sunday school and became the assistant Sunday School Superintendent. Rebecca, at the age of 25, lived in Wilmington but still went home to Leeds on weekends. When her parents sold the farm and moved to Zion, MD, she still returned home on weekends attending Zion United Methodist Church, where she taught the adult womens class.
With the passing of her father, her mother moved to Wilmington with her. Rebecca joined Peninsula Church before the merging of two churches becoming Peninsula-McCabe UMC. She was President of the Lo-Se-Sa (love, service, sacrifice) Bible Class and became a member of the team of teachers. She participated in United Methodist Women, served on the Board of Trustees, Worship Comm., Administrative Board, Chairman of Evangelism, and Chairman of the Love One Another Comm., which was a shepherding program and lay visitations.
At age 31, Rebecca learned to drive. Every year, the last two weeks of August she and her parents would travel the USA, starting in the New England States followed by the Smokey Mountains. Later they were so intrigued by the West, they made three trips out that way. Even after her father passed away, the trips continued, encompassing the 48 continental states. She later took tours to Alaska and Hawaii completing her goal of all 50 states. Other trips throughout her life included, the Holy Land, Germany, England, Wales, Ireland, Scotland, a ten week delayed honeymoon to the Orient and South Pacific, Mexico, Guatemala, the Caribbean, and Venezuela. Later Russ and Rebecca made yearly jaunts to Aruba and Mexico.
In 1985 she was invited to become a member of The P.E.O. Sisterhood, Chapter B. She served as Guard, then Chaplain, on up to the Presidency. This provided Rebecca the reward of meeting and serving with many lovely and caring women.
Her husband of 25 years, Russell W. Willey died in 2008. She is survived by her niece, 3 nephews and their families. She is also preceded in death by her 2 siblings, John Abel, 3rd, Lucy Abel Antrim and a nephew, William Abel.
A visitation will be held on Thursday, April 11, at 11 am, at Peninsula-McCabe UMC, 2200 Baynard Blvd, Wilmington, DE 19802, where a memorial service will follow at 12 noon. Burial will be private.
In lieu of flowers, the family suggests donations be made to the GBC Rebecca Abel Willey Scholarship, Goldey-Beacom College, c/o Ms. Janine Sorbello, 4701 Limestone Rd., Wilmington, DE 19808.
For online condolences visit: www.mccreryandharra.com