by Terry Rogers
On Sunday, September 8, 2019, Allyson April Abel, who was well known for her wildlife photography, passed away. Abel was 54 years old.
Born prematurely on March 9, 1965 to Diane Marie Dean and David Sterling Dean in Waco, Texas, Abel graduated magna cum laude from Wesley College with a Bachelor of Arts in Media Arts. She also held an Associate of Applied Science in Office Administration Technology which she earned from Delaware Technical and Community College, graduating summa cum laude.
When she was young, Abel worked in her family’s business, Cosmic Bakers, in Rehoboth Beach. She also worked at Crabtree and Evelyn as well as REDfish Designs before completing her degrees. She was introduced to the beauty of photography as an art form by Joseph Mullan. Abel was a freelance reporter and photographer for the News Journal starting in 2013 after working as the Volunteer Coordinator at Delaware Hospice from 2008 to 2013. She also served as a hospice volunteer since 1997.
As a fine arts photographer, April exhibited in Delaware and was published in the News Journal, Delaware Beach Life magazine, Outdoor Delaware magazine and the Milford Chronicle. Abel was featured in a 2013 News Journal article entitled “Peace at Prime Hook,” by Betsy Price and in a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service video, photographing the marshes and wildlife of Prime Hook. Abel was an exhibiting member of the Rehoboth Art League and was the Marketing Chairperson as well as a board member of the Mispillion Art League.
Abel was credited with having the gift of capturing the natural beauty of wildlife. She also had a desire to capture the unseen beauty of her hometown of Milford, often capturing the Riverwalk in the early morning light.
“I believe that if you look differently, you will see differently,” Abel said in an interview in 2013. “I have lived here for five years now. I wanted to photograph all aspects of the Riverwalk and see what it had to show me. By traveling much of the Riverwalk by foot at dawn, I saw it differently than I have when I traveled smaller segments. I think Milford has lots to offer but sometimes those of us who live here overlook it.”
Abel was one of only four photographers nationwide chosen by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for a story on wildlife photographers in the National Wildlife Refuges. She was employed with the Delaware State Parks from 2014 until the time of her death, starting her career with them as an Exhibits Coordinator and later becoming a State Parks Photographer. Abel was known for visiting local beaches, waterways, ponds and refuges to capture wildlife in their natural habitat in the early morning hours. According to her family, Abel had an abiding love of nature and an exceptional eye for finding beauty in her surroundings, no matter where she was.
In addition to photography, Abel was known for her wry sense of humor as well as her love of reading, kayaking, gardening, singing, creating delicious food and spending time with the people she treasured. She was married to Jack Abel for 20 years, supporting his growth and development as a Methodist minister until they divorced in 2008. She is survived by her father David Dean, her mother, Diane Dean, as well as her sister and brother-in-law, Pam and Jack McCarthy. She is also survived by her niece, Laura Griffith and her husband Ryan,; nephew Brian McCarthy and his wife, Kristin; nephew Mike McCarthy and his wife, Stephanie; nephew Chris McCarthy along with great-nieces and nephews Ryan Griffith, Elie McCarthy, Duncan McCarthy, Molly McCarthy and Tilly McCarthy. She also left behind her beloved tuxedo cat, Nicky.
According to her wishes, a celebration of life was held at one of her favorite places, Killens Pond State Park on September 14. Rosemary Connelly whose late husband Bob, also an accomplished photographer was a mentor to Abel, attended the celebration.
“The world has lost a beautiful person and mine in particular will never be the same,” Connelly stated. “April was with me at Bob’s death and I will be forever grateful for her strength and her kindness. Farewell, dear friend.”
Abel’s photographs can be seen at www.aprilallysonabel.com and the family has requested, also according to her wishes, that instead of flowers, donations be made in her name to the Delaware Nature Society, P.O. Box 700, Hockessin, DE 19707 to preserve open land in Delaware.
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