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West campus visionary Karl Abel dies at age 91

July 27, 2007

Karl Abel, a longtime Glendale resident who served as president of Salt River Project and is credited with helping start Arizona State University's West campus, died of natural causes on Monday, July 23. He was 91.

Abel vigorously supported the creation and promotion of ASU’s West campus, having served as the founding president of the Provost’s Club – a membership organization established to assist the campus in building a financial base for future operations and expansion. As president he managed to recruit nearly 40 members to the club. In 1993, ASU presented him with an Alumni Appreciation Award to honor his countless volunteer hours and his consistent leadership.

In 2005, he received ASU’s Visionaries Award for his leadership efforts, financial support and visionary thinking. Upon receiving the award, Abel said, “I like to see things start from scratch – seeing something come together and having a little something to do with it. ASU’s West campus is very special because it’s a homegrown product.”

Abel was nationally recognized as a conservationist, becoming a noted contributor to the development of Arizona, and served on many civic councils, commissions, and charity boards. He was involved with the Arizona Association of Resources Conservation District, Advisory Council to the American Public Power Association and the Central Arizona Project. He also worked tirelessly to promote organizations like the Maricopa County Farm Bureau, the YMCA and The Salvation Army.

He is survived by his wife Enid, son Jonathan Abel (and wife Jeannie), daughter Lency Spezzano (and husband Chuck), five grandchildren and five great-grandchildren. Memorial services were held Saturday, July 28, at Grace Lutheran Church, in Glendale.