Sportswriter Harlan Abbey Passes

Longtime horseman and journalist was 84 when he died Sept. 8 in Clarence, N.Y.

Harlan C. Abbey, who had a long career as a local sportswriter, newspaper editor, author, and avid horseman, died Sept. 8 at his home in Clarence, N.Y. He was 84.

In a 2010 article in the Buffalo News, Mr. Abbey described the genesis of his passion for horses and racing. Born July 18, 1930, in Cleveland, Ohio, he came to love the equine breed at an early age.

"In those days, a guy used to come around with a pony and put kids up on the pony to have their photos taken," he wrote. "My sister was 2 1/2 years younger than I was, so he put her on the pony, and had me hold the pony for the photo. I guess he saw that I had a weepy face, so after the photo was taken, he put me on the pony and walked it around. And that was it."

Eventually, Abbey became a riding instructor, while at the same time developing an interest in writing that was sparked by a junior achievement school club. During his life, he wound up owning several off-track Thoroughbred horses and winning more than a dozen races, including two hack championships.

Mr. Abbey was a 1952 graduate of the University of Missouri in Kansas City. From 1953 to 1955 he served in the Army, where he was promoted to the rank of staff sergeant.

During his Army service he was stationed in Seoul, South Korea, where he edited the Army newspaper.

Upon his discharge he went on to earn a master's degree in journalism from Northwestern University in 1956.

Mr. Abbey worked at the Lockport Union Sun & Journal, and later the Courier-Express, doing both sports and general assignment reporting. He also wrote two books, Showing Your Horse: Blue Ribbon Horsemanship, published in 1970, and Horses and Horse Shows, published 10 years later.

He was a passionate horseman who owned, rode and raced horses throughout his life. He stopped riding only a few years ago, at age 79, after being thrown one last time from his beloved horse, Bandit.

Mr. Abbey also served as managing editor of the Buffalo Jewish Review.

He later worked as a horseracing columnist, covering races for the Fort Erie, Niagara Falls and Welland, Ont., Tribune newspapers.

His wife of 38 years, Gretel Sonnenberg Abbey, died in 1999.

He is survived by two sons, Jeffrey and Steven; a daughter, Heidi Helfman; a dear friend, Lenore Levy; and nine grandchildren.