JJ Abrams was born April 2, 1927 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin to parents Samuel H. Abrams and Birdie Greenberg Abrams. He had an older brother, Herbert, who passed away in 2008. He started first grade at IPS #66 and graduated Shortridge High School in 1944.
JJ went to Indiana University that fall and pledged Sigma Alpha Mu Fraternity at 17 years old. After finishing one semester, he enlisted into the US Navy, served one year in Guam and was honorably discharged. He enrolled in the Northern Illinois College of Optometry, a four year program and completed it in three years. He passed his Indiana State Boards in July and received his license. JJ did his own research and decided that the only area of town that did not have an optometrist was the West side. He opened his practice on the west side of Indianapolis on January 19, 1950 at the young age of 22.
In 1953, he was introduced to a girl (Barbara Katz) by his aunt. He started writing her and introduced himself through the United States Postal mail. After corresponding a few times, they met in Chicago at a wedding over Memorial Day weekend. He was fond of telling this story because he drove to Chicago to meet Barbara in his new 1953 Chevrolet Convertible. It was love at first sight. She moved to Chicago and after only 5 weekends, they were engaged. They were married on March 20th, 1954. They settled in Indianapolis. Their married life together was nothing short of wonderful and was only separated when his beloved Bobbie passed away in 2003.
JJ was one of the longest practicing Optometrists in the state of Indiana and retired in January of 2020 after 70 years of practice. He received the Sagamore of the Wabash Award from then Governor Pence and became a Colonel in the State of Kentucky. JJ is the only Optometrist to serve as President of the Board of the Prevent Blindness Indiana. He is a lifetime member of American Indiana Optometric Service for Humanity, Fellow of the American Academy of Optometry, Past President of Ocular Heritage Society and Optometric Historical Society, Life time member of Indiana Optometric Association and American Optometric Association, Emeritus Fellow of the American Academy of Optometry, President of numerous Optometric organizations, awarded the Life Time achievement award by VOSH, and inducted into the Illinois College of Optometry’s 50 year club.
Through the years, even into his 80’s, he took numerous humanitarian trips to various places such as Honduras, Haiti, Cuba and Kenya to fit thousands of pairs of glasses and contacts to the very poor. He continued to volunteer by helping many individuals in need of eye exams and glasses who had financial difficulties. He was a member of the Contemporary Club, Charter member of Westside Exchange Club and avid art collector. In 1987 he also became a Bar Mitzvah at his temple Indianapolis Hebrew Congregation where he was a member for over 90 years.
In his spare time, he loved to drive one of his many convertible sport cars that he acquired during his lifetime and only stopped driving his convertible BMW in his late 80’s. He was the “who’s who of everything” in Indianapolis and was a wealth of knowledge of the city and how things had changed over the decades. His memory was nothing short of miraculous. He told stories of people from over 50 years ago with great detail. He and Bobbie traveled the world together while also being dedicated parents to their sons. Their family life was idyllic and the home was filled with happiness and love. He was a devoted father and husband. JJ was exceptionally proud of both his boys by the way in which they live their lives.
The last 15 years he enjoyed working with his son John at Abrams EyeCare Associates, dinner on Sunday nights with his other son Jeff, breakfast with his two daughter in laws on Tuesday and Thursday mornings and Monday night dinners with his grandchildren. JJ was a member of Broadmoor Country Club and loved to play golf with his grandchildren. He was affectionately known for the “Papa Kick”. When the ball nestled near a tree, it would suddenly move 5 feet for a clear shot. JJ was also an accomplished bridge player later in life. He was blessed with 5 grandchildren and 4 great grandchildren. JJ Abrams was 93 years young when he passed away on Monday April 27, 2020.
He is survived by his sons, Jeffrey Abrams (Lynn) and John Abrams (Diane); grandchildren, Grant Abrams (Courtney), Leslie Abrams Tobe (Matthew), Michael Abrams, Joshua Abrams and Rachel Abrams; and great-grandchildren, Bella & Dylan Tobe, Jacob and Kinsley Abrams.
A service will be held sometime in the future to commemorate his life. The family has created a Zoom meeting for the observance of shiva on Wednesday, April 29, 2020 from 5-8pm EST. To connect: Join Zoom Meeting https://us02web.zoom.us/j/86334919853
Meeting ID: 863 3491 9853
In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to one of the following in memory of JJ Abrams:
- JCC – Birdie Abrams Memorial Fund, 6701 Hoover Road, Indianapolis, IN 46260
- Indiana University Foundation, Bobbie Abrams Memorial – Optometry, PO Box 500, Bloomington, IN 47402
- Hooverwood Guild, 7001 Hoover Road, Indianapolis, IN 46260.
Friends may leave a message of condolence for the family by visiting the guest book at www.ARNmortuary.com
7001 Hoover Rd, Indianapolis IN 46260
Birdie Abrams Memorial Fund
6701 Hoover Rd, Indianapolis IN 46260
Indiana University Foundation, Bobbie Abrams Memorial - Optometry
PO Box 500, Bloomington IN 47402