Health Advocate Joyce Veda Abel Dies at 79

After Joyce Veda Abel beat rectal cancer, she dedicated herself to spreading awareness about the condition. At Honeywell, she established colon screening programs, and her master’s thesis, “The Cancer No One Wants to Talk About: Preventing Colon Cancer,” focused on the disease.

After years of battling Parkinson’s disease, Abel, 79, died quietly in her St. Louis Park home on March 15 with family members by her side. Renanah Kaufman Lehner of Chicago reported her mother died as a caregiver who was playing Jewish guitar music.

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Joyce Veda Abel was 79 years old when she died. She was born and raised in New York City, the oldest daughter of three girls. Jacob, her father, was a mechanical engineer and inventor, while Mona, her mother, taught chemistry.

Abel taught elementary school in Harlem after graduating from the State University of New York at Buffalo, where she helped develop a free summer school program, according to Kaufman. She went on to receive a social work degree from the University of Chicago, where she met their father, Stuart D. Kaufman, who was in medical school at the time.

Abel also worked as a therapist and ran a support group for chronic illness patients. She enjoyed naps, brisk walks with her dogs, gardening, and garage sales, according to her daughters, but she could also be passionate, according to Lehner, a restless spirit who fought with her own mental health concerns. She had a strong spiritual side, despite the fact that she wasn’t affiliated with anyone synagogue.

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