Bryce Abbas, 66, of Oskaloosa, passed away peacefully, surrounded by family, on March 23, 2023, at the Mahaska Health Hospice Serenity House.
Bryce Carl Abbas was born on December 12, 1956, to Carl and Vylas (Brower) Abbas in Hampton, Iowa. Bryce’s life story begins in Ackley, Iowa, where he grew up on a mid-sized farm. Life on the farm was ideal – milking cows, riding horses, walking beans, and bailing hay. Growing up, Bryce and his family attended a small country church – Washington Reformed, near Ackley. He attended Sunday school, youth group, and catechism classes and was honored for never missing a Thursday night catechism class from 3rd through 10th grade.
Bryce attended Ackley – Geneva schools. He was involved in many activities and was the FFA president. He even held the record for the 1 mile in track for over 40 years, running it in 4:19. During his senior year of high school, Bryce began dating Janita Brennecke. They continued to date through their college years. Bryce was the first in his family to attend college. He first attended Northwestern College in Orange City for one year and then completed his education at UNI, where he earned his bachelor’s degree. He went on to obtain his CPA license and began his financial career working for a private CPA firm in Sheldon, Iowa. After two years of working, and seven years of dating, Bryce and Janita were married on September 11, 1982, in Ackley. They began their married life together, living in Sheldon, where Bryce went on to work as an auditor for Security State Bank. While in Sheldon, Bryce was very involved at Bethel Reformed Church; he joined a men’s prayer group, was a leader for youth group, and taught catechism and Sunday school classes.
Bryce always greeted his Sunday school class with “Good morning, class!” to which they were taught to reply, “Good morning Mr. Abbas!”. Bryce, Janita, and their three daughters made many dear family friends during their time in Sheldon. In 1997, the family made a difficult move to Oskaloosa, Iowa, where Bryce began working for Mahaska Investment Company as an auditor. The family attended Central Reformed Church, where Bryce was a long-standing deacon and elder. When serving as an usher, he often kept Smarties in his pocket to hand out to the kids as he seated their families. He also served the church by giving occasional Sunday messages at the local nursing homes. Before retirement, Bryce worked at several other financial institutions and, for a time, was the Executive Director at Habitat for Humanity of Mahaska county.
One of Bryce’s favorite pastimes was riding his bike. He participated in several RAGBRAIs. In 1975, he completed Ragbrai #3 on a one-speed bike that may or may not have come from the junkyard. After his Parkinson’s diagnosis in 2017, he attempted to ride his bike across the United States on the TransAmerica Bike Route. Due to the trail’s roughness, he could not complete it on his three-wheel bike. However, he did ride a good portion for several weeks before returning home. Bryce also enjoyed golfing, watching “the Hawks,” especially football and wrestling, and singing to Janita (“Hey hey good lookin, what ya got cookin,” “Wild Thing you make my heart sing,” and “The only one for you is me, and me for you” were favorite tunes), daily indulging in ice cream, and spending time with his daughters. When the girls were young, Bryce often mowed a baseball diamond in the backyard and was always up for a game of catch with the girls. Bryce dearly loved his grandchildren and had a special nickname for each of them. He was especially blessed to live long enough to meet his newest granddaughter Olive, born in January.
After Janita’s passing, Bryce moved into Oskaloosa Care Center, where he was doted on by the nursing staff, who voted him the 2023 Valentine King. Despite losing nearly all physical abilities, he continued to spread joy and repeatedly stated, “God is good.” Bryce’s life is a reminder to never take anything for granted, even the simple things. Several months before his passing, he stated he would have done just about anything to go for a bike ride.
Bryce’s family includes his daughters: Ariann (Billy) Blake of Oskaloosa; Amy (Brant) VerMeer of Montezuma; Cassie Abbas of Oskaloosa; and eight beautiful grandchildren: Emerson, Mackenzie, Alexis, Olive, Addilyn, Clayton, Vivian, and Jordyn. His sister Marlene (Larry) Luiken of Chatfield, MN, his brothers-in-law and sisters-in-law; Dan (Sandy) Brennecke of Grand Junction, CO, Jackie Brennecke of Richmond, VA, Jeanie (Andrew) Cook of Fort Dodge, Doug Brennecke of Winterset, Elaine (Jim) Moats of Hampton, and several nieces and nephews also survived him.
Along with his parents, Bryce was preceded in death by his wife, Janita, and a sister Carolyn McCormick.
As was his wish, Bryce’s body has been cremated, and his ashes will be spread at a later date. Celebration of Life Services will be held Friday, April 7, 2023 at 11:00 a.m. at Central Church in Oskaloosa. Visitation will begin Friday, April 7, at 10:00 a.m. at Central Church. Memorial contributions may be made to Habitat for Humanity.