Vermillion Mourns USD’s Late First Lady

"We just have to live on with her spirit"

A loving cheerleader, friend, sister, wife, mother and grandmother; those are just a few roles the Vermillion community highlighted today as they remembered USD’s late first lady.

A memorial service was held for Colette Abbott, the wife of university president Jim Abbott, Monday morning.

For many it was the sudden loss that made the service so hard.

Abbott passed last Wednesday in her home after she was recently diagnosed with cancer and was awaiting surgery.

But like the positive attitude she portrayed day after day, everyone celebrated the time they had with her.

“We just have to live on with her spirit and remember what she preached: she preached love and happiness,” says former head football coach Joe Glenn.

As the community came together saying their last goodbyes, those close to her talked about Colette Abbott’s accomplishments. 

“As an athlete, she was ruthless, a runner to her core,” says Abbott’s oldest daughter Sara Abbott Agne.  “She ran her first marathon in Chicago in 2000, and she was instantly hooked,” completing 37 more. 

“And true to form, she ran every marathon wearing her signature red lipstick,” adds Agne. 

Agne says she also devoted her time in the sport stands. 

“Cheering on all of the athletes with all of her might, she would brag on USD any chance she could, and was proud to be a part of this community,” she says. 

“You didn’t coach here and not know Colette Abbott,” adds Glenn. “She was at every game at the 50 yard line, every basketball game half court; she was all USD.” 

But her biggest role and one that her daughter will miss most was her role as a mom of three. 

“As our mother she was our true champion offering unwavering love and support as our best friend, our biggest cheerleader, our confidant, our role model, our everything,” says Agne. 

A close friend to the Abbott family also spoke at the memorial thanking Colette for reminding everyone that there is love in the world, and strength and comfort in the community.

Colette Abbott married Jim Abbott in 1987, and has been the universities first lady since 1997.

They have three adult daughters and two grandchildren.