Don Abel, 66, Led Franklin Coach Co.’s Rebirth
Donald E. Abel, owner of Nappanee, Ind.-based Franklin Coach Co., died Tuesday (Aug. 27) at Elkhart General Hospital. He was 66.
Abel’s father, Paul, founded the company in 1945 and was considered a pioneer in the RV industry. Franklin Coach, a travel trailer, fifth-wheel and park model manufacturer, was in the headlines after an F-3 tornado leveled four of the company’s manufacturing buildings in October of 2007. Don Abel vowed to rebuild and in April of 2010 the firm resumed production, building 12-foot-wide recreational park trailers.
Abel was born Dec. 28, 1946, in Elkhart to Paul and Evelyn (Roose) Abel. He was a 1964 graduate of Wakarusa High School and lived his lifetime in this area.He was very active in the community serving on the Nappanee Smokey Stovers Fire Department for 36 years; seven of those years as chief.
Abel helped to start the Butch Nine Scholarship committee. He also served on the Fourth of July committee, Nappanee Redevelopment Commission from 1994-2007 and the NorthWood Dollars for Scholars committee. He was a former Elkhart County councilman and was named Nappanee Citizen of the year in 2000.
Surviving are his sons and grandchildren, Jim (Heidi) Abel, and their daughters, Sydney and Payton of Fishers and Chris (Mindy) Abel and their children, Bryce and Katie of Nappanee; sister Becky (Johnnie) Moody of Granger; brothers Steve Abel of Nappanee and Rick (Gail) Abel of Wakarusa; and his former wife, Rita Tucker of Wakarusa.
Family and friends may call from 2-4 p.m. and 5-8 p.m. Friday at Thompson-Lengacher & Yoder Funeral Home, Nappanee, and for one hour prior to the funeral service at 10:30 a.m. Saturday at the funeral home. The Rev. Ruben Chupp, pastor of North Main Street Mennonite Church will officiate. Burial will take place with full fireman honors, including a final call at the Nappanee Fire Department and final salute, in Olive West Cemetery.
Memorial contributions may be given to NorthWood Dollars for Scholars.