In Memoriam: Larry Abels

Larry Joseph Abels, founder of Tulsa, Oklahoma-based supplier Selco Custom Time, passed away on September 21. He was 82.

Abels was born in Healdon, Oklahoma, the first of three children, and went on to attend the University of Oklahoma for three years before leaving to work in his family’s business. He married Felice Seligson Abels in 1960. Jack Seligson, his father-in-law, was the founder of Selco, a regional jewelry store chain based out of Tulsa, and Abels joined the business in 1962.

In 1976, Abels became president of Selco and in 1980 he sold the company’s jewelry division, consisting of 59 stores and salons, to Zales. 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, maintaining the integrity of the company and the trust of his customers.

In 1989, in consideration of Abels’ love of boating, waterskiing and being on the water, he and Felice purchased a condo in Florida. This, in turn, compelled him to start the Blue Water Yacht of South Florida in 1991 with his brother, Chuck. In 1995, he and his wife became permanent residents of Florida, and Larry 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.

Professionally, his involvement with Selco continued by regularly attending shows until 2019 and counseling Mark until his passing.

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.

filed under December 2021 | Selco
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Comments (2)
Scott A Nussinow, MAS
December 15, 2021
Larry was one of the first (and one of the coolest) industry people I met, as a young teenager attending a show with my Dad - in the sixties. He was, by any standards, elegant in his presence, with an upscale, retail-like look to his booths, his impeccable dress, and his business presentation. He befriended me way back then - and visiting with him at almost countless subsequent shows, was both ritual and a personal high-point. Even in semi-retirement, Larry's irrepressible spirit was ever-present, and despite some medical challenges, he was always sporting a smile. I greatly enjoyed his company, our conversations, and genuinely appreciate the gift of his friendship for all these years.
Cliff Quicksell, MAS+
December 14, 2021
Extremely sad to hear this news. I remember meeting many years ago and he was such a kind, genuine man. Later I met his amazing son Mark, who has the same qualities as his dad. I sit an watch all of these amazing people who are leaving us too soon. They have made an indulible positive mark on our industry. To the Ables family, my sincerest condolences - you will be in my thoughts and prayers, as you go through this time with the loss of Larry. Larry my friend, RIP, you'll be sorely missed, but never forgotten. CQ
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