Chris Abbott Death, The man behind the beloved St. John’s hockey mascot, dead at 51

Chris Abbott Death

Chris Abbott Death – Obituary, Cause Of Death; Chris Abbott, who was well-known as the hockey mascot Buddy the Puffin for decades, has died. He was just 51 when he passed away on Monday, Jan. 31.

“He was such a good man. A real family man, a good husband and a good father,” said his mother, Joan Abbott. “Unbelievable, I am in shock here.”

Chris Abbott Biography

Abbott, who was known as “Abbo”, was working at the old Memorial Stadium in 1992 when he tried out for the job of the mascot for the St. John’s Maple Leafs, she said.

“He got it and he has been with them ever since,” his mother said, referring to his work with the hockey teams at Mile One and Mary Brown’s Centre. He also worked in maintenance at the stadiums.

He took immense pride in the Buddy role.

“I think it was because of the children,” Joan said, explaining Abbott had heart surgery when he was five years old and spent months at the Janeway hospital at different times. Abbott was dedicated to making visits to the Janeway several times a year as Buddy.

But it wasn’t just the mascot role that he was dedicated to.

“He just took pride in whatever he did,” said Joan. She said her husband, Walter, was the same way. “Chris and his father got along really, really well,” Joan said, reflecting on the close-knit family. Also a longtime employee of Memorial Stadium and Mile One, Walter died of cancer in 2010.

She said she called her grandson, Nikolas Abbott, who lives in Arizona, with the news. “He said to me, after he got over the (initial) shock, ‘Well, Nan, I guess him and Pop are up there having a grand laugh,’” Joan said.

“They would laugh as if their arse was on fire (when father and son were together). God forgive me for saying but that’s the way it was.”

Chris Abbott Survivors

Among Abbott’s survivors are his wife Niki Ryan Abbott and sister Sherry-Lynn McGrath.

Retired Telegram sports reporter Brendan McCarthy said Abbott “had an outgoing personality in person, he would tell you that being Buddy allowed him to expand on that.

“He was a good talker, but being Buddy, he had to express himself without talking. He had to share joy and mirth without speaking and not everybody can do that,” McCarthy said.

“(He) brought a personality to it, but he was very athletic and that’s not an easy thing to do inside that costume.”

Growlers communications manager Ken O’Leary used to don the Buddy costume for some community events, including birthdays.

Chris Abbott Cause Of Death

“The first time I had to do it, Abbo was really protective over Buddy the Puffin because he is Buddy the Puffin,” O’Leary said of Abbott’s desire to make sure O’Leary had all the Buddy body language down pat so the character was consistent no matter who put on the costume.

“I sat on his couch in his house for an hour and a half, just watching him move… before he would let me take the bag that he had the suit in.”

Newfoundland Growlers president Glenn Stanford said Abbott was passionate about the role he played in the organization.

“He was a very valuable member of every pro-hockey team from the very beginning with us,” Stanford said, adding that Abbott could arguably be described as the most valuable.

“He had the incredible ability to connect with kids while making adults feel like kids again.”

Stanford said Abbott never turned down a community request and gave his time to many charity organizations.

“He was very good at what he did,” Stanford said.

He also meant a great deal to generations of families. Stanford recalled Buddy appearing at his daughter’s birthday party in the 1990s. The family recently took Stanford’s nearly three-year-old granddaughter to her first game and they took photos and chatted about how special Buddy was.

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