Selco Founder Larry Abels Passes Away at 82
Larry Joseph Abels passed away at the age of 82 on Sept. 21, 2021, in Tulsa, Oklahoma, surrounded and supported by his family and friends.
Ziprea “Zippy” Abels Massie and Jerome Abels of Healdton, Oklahoma, welcomed Larry as their first-born child on Feb. 11, 1939. He enjoyed the life of an only child until, at age 10, he become a big brother to Charles “Chuck” Abels Massie. His younger sister, Cheryl Massie Bontempi, completed the family when she arrived four years later. He went on to attend the University of Oklahoma, where he remained for three years before leaving to work in his family’s business.
As a teenager, Abels met his future bride, Felice Seligson Abels, the daughter of Jack and Eunice Seligson. After years of courtship, they decided to marry in 1960, around the time Larry went to work in his family’s business. Jack Seligson was the founder of Selco, a regional jewelry store chain based out of Tulsa, and Abels chose to join the business in 1962. Throughout his career with Selco, he and his wife grew their family, starting with the birth of their first son, Jerome Todd, in 1966; adding their daughter, Lisa Gay, in 1968 and completing the family unit in 1970, with the birth of Mark Philip.
It was in 1976 when Abels became president of Selco, where he worked tirelessly to expand and build upon the quality and reputation of the company. Abel's vision led him to sell Selco’s jewelry division, consisting of 59 stores and salons, to Zales in 1980. This allowed him to follow his passion by spinning the promotional division to focus on recognition watches and clocks. He devoted the rest of his career to growing this division while simultaneously maintaining the integrity of the company and the trust of his customers.
Although he was focused on his company and family life in Tulsa, Larry and Felice decided to prepare for their golden years. Abels' love of boating, water skiing and being on the water made Florida the perfect choice when they purchased a condo in 1989. This, in turn, compelled him to start the Blue Water Yacht of South Florida in 1991 with his brother, Chuck. In 1995, Abels and his wife became permanent residents of Florida, and he continued to successfully run the company until 2000, when he appointed his son, Mark, as president, and assumed the title of Chairman of the Board.
Retirement didn’t exist in Abels’ vocabulary, as he sustained an active life. Professionally, his involvement with Selco continued by regularly attending shows until 2019 and counseling Mark until his passing. However, this was shadowed by his enthusiasm for his family, as he enjoyed traveling the world and spending time with his wife, kids, grandkids and friends.
Abels is survived by his brother and sister, Charles and Cheryl; three children, Jerome, Lisa, and Mark; along with Mark’s wife, Tami McBrier Abels; and four grandchildren, Keagan, Cody, Tiffany and Parker.