James E. (Jimi) Abraham passed away peacefully in his home on Mar. 4 from natural causes.
Jimi was born in Oak Park, IL, on July 20, 1958 and moved to Miami with his family at age 9. The family originally settled in the North Gables area near SW Eighth Street. Through the leadership of his uncle and godfather Anthony R. Abraham, the Abrahams would go on to establish the highly successful business ventures and philanthropies founded at the former Anthony Abraham Chevrolet Dealership on SW Eighth Street and Lejeune Road.
The opportunity to work with his father, brother, sister, cousins and uncles served Jimi well in life as he moved from one department to another learning all facets of the family business. It was then that Jimi became fluent in Spanish as he forged lifelong friendships with co-workers from a range of departments and cultures, and ultimately developed the foundation for what would become his own successful business enterprise: A & R Insurance Services on Minorca Avenue.
At the height of his powers with wife Marina by his side in their family business, Jimi was the epitome of all things noble and good. Devoted beyond measure to family and friends, the happy memories shared about Jimi during the celebration of life mercy meal at Ruth’s Chris Restaurant were story after story about the gift of love and friendship he blessed so many with.
“Jim had more friends than anybody I know and they were real people,” said sister Teri Abraham-Vogel. “He was the kind of guy that once you met him and made that connection you became a life-long friend. Jim took personal pride in the achievements of family and friends and would introduce you to others in a way that made you truly feel special.”
There was never a dull moment at the dealership when Jimi was around to brighten the room with his endearing dimple-bedecked smile and famous practical jokes. Old friend Michael Fleming flew in from Kansas for the services and recalled how the Abraham family took him in during high school when he was in need of familial support.
“He was a true Abraham. His family welcomed me into their family and I lived with them for over a year,” Fleming said. “We all worked at the dealership together in the early ’70s when we were in our teens and we found lots of ways to have fun.”
A Miami Killian High School graduate and University of Miami alumnus, Jimi was an avid Hurricane fan, a talented musician, an accomplished deep sea fisherman, world traveler, and philanthropist. Jimi’s favorite good luck charm at UM games was a tattered old No. 5 jersey he had from the Canes first national championship game back in 1983.
“We would go to Hurricane games and he would wear that beat up old jersey and we used to give him such a hard time,” said friend Victor Galliano. “One game we sat in front of former UM running back Melvin Bratton who happened to have been No. 5 when he played for the Canes and he congratulated Jimmy on his holey T-shirt. After that we lost the case for a new jersey.”
Jimi’s brother Joe Abraham said parents Joseph and Stasia gifted him with his first guitar at age 5 because they considered it a safe diversion for their energetic son.
“It was the safest thing he could fool around with and my folks encouraged it. He never put it down,” Joe said.
Jimmy’s musical tastes ran the gamut from the classical rock of Led Zeppelin to the traditional Arabic music of his Lebanese roots.
“I can’t tell you how many different concerts he would take me to,” said younger sister Teri. “He once took me to an Andres Segovia concert at Dade County Auditorium. It was a sold out show to hear this elderly man who must have been in his 90s playing acoustic guitar. Jim had a discerning ear and felt the passion when it came to musical genius. And when you were with him at a concert, you felt it too.”
Uncle Anthony Abraham was the last living founding member of the St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital prior to his passing.
“Jimi knew the importance of being a part of something big and worthwhile and he was a lifetime contributor to St. Jude,” Teri said.
“He had a soft spot in his heart for kids and no matter where he was or what was going on, he never missed being a critical part of the family’s annual Miracle Ball fundraiser for St. Jude,” she added.
“He is in our hearts forever, but I am not going to stop missing him anytime soon,” added brother Joe.