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'Doc' Abraham, 89, Dies; Green Thumb Radio Host

Associated Press
Monday, January 31, 2005; Page B07

George "Doc" Abraham, 89, a wisecracking gardening guru who teamed up with his wife, Katy, to host one of the longest-running shows on American radio, died Jan. 27 at a hospital in Canandaigua, N.Y., of complications from congestive heart failure.

The couple wrapped up "The Green Thumb" on Dec. 14, 2002, with a trademark signoff they had been using for a half-century.

George "Doc" Abraham and his wife, Katy, began their show in 1952. They also had a syndicated gardening column and published books. (Annette Lein -- The (rochester, N.y.) Democrat & Chronicle)

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"Gotta grow now!" Abraham said.

"And don't forget to be neighborly," his wife piped in.

The half-hour call-in show went on the air in 1952, offering advice on flowers, fruit bugs and lawn care mixed in with his down-home humor and her poetry recitations.

The couple's country-twang chemistry -- Katy's sweet nature a foil to Doc's gregariousness -- drew a loyal following on Rochester's WHAM radio station.

"She's homegrown, corn-fed and sugar-cured. That's why I married her," Mr. Abraham joked in 2002 in an interview with the Associated Press.

Born in Wayland in rural western New York, the sweethearts both studied horticulture and journalism at Cornell University. He served in North Africa during World War II while she worked at a munitions plant in Ithaca, N.Y., and they married in 1942 during a 36-hour Army leave.

After the war, the couple launched a greenhouse business and a syndicated gardening column that, during its heyday, reached 5 million readers through 130 newspapers across the country.

Their column still appeared in a few dozen small-town newspapers and magazines, and many of their 16 gardening books, notably "The Green Thumb Garden Handbook," remain in print.

Mr. Abraham had just finished an autobiography, "A Bathtub Built for Two," that will be published this summer.

Ailments associated with age forced the pair to end their radio show, but they continued to bring their expertise into schools in and around their home in Naples, N.Y., in the Finger Lakes region.

"It seems silly -- we're just a couple of country boobs, but no matter where we go, they mob us," Mr. Abraham said in 2002.

Survivors include his wife and two children.

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