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In Memory of
Abe J. Cantees
September 13, 1911 - June 26, 2011

Fairview Cemetery

One of Williamson’s most distinguished citizens and retired business leaders, Abe J. Cantees, has died at the age of 99. Cantees, who had long been identified with the social, civic and business activities of Williamson, died at 8:20 p.m., Sunday, June 26, 2011, at Saint Joseph’s Hospital in Lexington, KY. Several family members were present at his bedside. Abe’s father, the late Joseph Cantees, came to Williamson from Lebanon in 1899. Three years later he returned to his home country to marry Helen Mickel and together they returned to Williamson to begin a new life. Joseph Cantees opened Cantees Department Store in April, 1929. The business survived the Wall Street Crash of 1929, a fire, the Great Flood of 1977 and more flooding in 1984, before closing the doors in 1999. For seven decades the Cantees family joyfully served the people of the Tug Valley. Speaking of the closing of the popular clothing store, Abe said, “My brother and sisters and I feel we have had a good run in the city’s business climate for so many years but retirement is now in order.” Born in Williamson on September 13, 1911, Abe was the oldest of nine children. He was preceded in death by all of his siblings, two brothers: Saber and Robert Tanel Cantees and six sisters: Esma Cantees, Rose Stuart, Louise Farmer, Josephine Eubanks, Alice Cantees and Catherine Dixon. All of the children were active in the family business in their lifetimes. Abe was also preceded in death by his beloved wife of 58 years, Hazel Dawhare Cantees, who died on June 17, 1999. Abe was a graduate of Williamson High School and he served in the United States Army during World War II. He once said that he counted himself lucky to be alive for he was wounded in France and spent four months in an English hospital. “Our unit was going to Paris when a shell exploded, killing some of my buddies and wounding me. A Gideon Bible in the pocket of my jacket deflected the shrapnel and sent it into my wrist, otherwise I might have taken the hit in my heart.” “Later, I was in Paris on May 8, 1945, when a parade celebrated victory in Europe.” Abe was a member of the Williamson Business and Professional Association and the Tug Valley Chamber of Commerce for many years and served as their chairman and president, respectively. He had been a Kiwanian for more than 65 years and is a past president of the local club. He was a member of the St. Paul’s Episcopal Church and was a senior officer for several years. He also served on the Salvation Army Advisory Board for many years. Abe is survived by four children: Joseph Cantees of Altamonte Springs. FL, Ron Cantees of Lexington, KY, Betty (Louis) Kawaja of Lexington, KY and Mary Lou (Sam) Clymer of Nicholasville, KY; seven grandchildren: A. L. and Joseph Kawaja, Jessica (Todd) Bergin, Samuel and Courtney Clymer and Justin and Derrick Cantees; one great-grandchild and a host of nieces and nephews. The family will receive friends on Wednesday evening, June 29, 2011, from 6pm to 9 pm, at Weaver Mortuary in West Williamson. The funeral service celebrating Abe’s life will be conducted on Thursday, June 30, 2011, at 11:00 a.m., at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church. The Reverend Nick England and the Reverend George Kostas will officiate. Interment will follow the service at the Fairview Cemetery in West Williamson. Pallbearers include grandsons: Justin Cantees, Samuel Clymer, A. L. and Joseph Kawaja and nephews: Chuck Eubanks and Emil Cantees. In lieu of flowers the family suggest that memorial contribution be made to St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, 411 Prichard Street, Williamson, WV. 25661. Weaver Mortuary of West Williamson is serving the Cantees family.