Wilfredo (Willie) Reyes Abadilla passed away peacefully on May 8, 2023, at 7:24pm. During his transition he was surrounded by his family, both in his hospital room, as well as across the world - Indiana, California, and the Philippines. Willie leaves behind his wife (Sue), four children (Wil (Toby), Stefanie (Marcello), Chris (Stephenie), and Sean (Diane)), seven grandchildren (Kimberley (Kelly), Marcello, Adriana, Aiden, Aaron, Austen, and Myles), two great-grandchildren (Noah and Elodie), four siblings, and many extended family members. While his passing is a profound loss, we are grateful to have had such a loving husband, dad, brother, and “Poppy” in our lives. We will always miss him and remember him every day.
Willie was born in the City of Lucena, Quezon province, Philippines on April 29, 1948, to Juanito Carmona and Lena Alandy (Reyes) Abadilla. Willie is the second of his five siblings: Leonardo (Felicidad) is the eldest, followed by Willie, Maria (Emmanuel), Marilyn (Ernie), and Renato (Susan).
Willie’s early years were spent climbing trees, getting into mischief and pretending to be a cowboy (which was one of the things he wanted to be when he grew up). He loved to laugh, being a prankster and thought of himself as a Jerry Lewis type. While always studious and competing with his brother for top honors he also found himself with a passion for the arts, drumming, and participating in school plays.
After graduating with honors from the University of Santo Tomas in 1964, Willie moved to the United States at the age of 16. He was chosen to go to the US because his family believed his outgoing personality and goal-oriented drive would make him successful. They were right. The next two years were busy ones. Willie enrolled and attended Seattle University, started his career at Washington Natural Gas Company (now Puget Sound Energy), and met and married Carmen Descargar. They started their family quickly with the births of Wil and Stefanie, expanding their loving family to 5 with the birth of Chris 8 years later.
Although far from home, Willie had the support of his Auntie Ched (Mercedes) and Uncle Paul Bigornia, Auntie Med (Remedios) Bigornia, as well as his new in-laws: Frank and Irenea Descargar, Carmen’s grandparents, Eufronio and Paula Sermonia, and many other aunts, uncles, and cousins.
Over the next few years, they grounded themselves within the Filipino Community and built a support system of extended family and friends. They had an active social life and within their close community, and Willie proved to be a fun-loving jokester that enjoyed bowling, fishing, camping, participating in his kids’ activities, and jamming with his band (ask Stef later what the band’s name was).
The next chapters of his life included his marriage to Sue Ann Gay, who would be his wife for 39 years. Willie and Sue welcomed Sean into the family in 1985, and they raised him with love and became involved in his school and sports activities, too. He passed along his love for fishing and boating to all of his kids during this time, spending many hours on Lake Washington or on Puget Sound in the summers.
As his children became adults and started families of their own, Willie was happy to be the proud patriarch of the family. His grandchildren and great grandchildren held a special place in his heart, and he proudly took on the name “Poppy” - a name which we only used for him. Poppy would often be found at many of his grandchildren's events: on the sidelines at soccer games, in the audience of ballet recitals and concerts, in the bleachers at baseball games giving umps a hard time and sitting in the stands for graduations. He was their #1 fan, biggest cheerleader, loudest supporter, and always believed in them.
One of his most favorite traditions and memories was our annual family vacation to Lake Chelan. This tradition began in 2009, with all of us jam-packed into one town house. While we were pretty much sleeping on top of each other, you could see the joy in his eyes as he watched all of his kids and grandchildren sing, dance, play games, swim, and share meals (and lambanog) together. Over the years, he started a few traditions of his own during the trip. He would choose one night to watch all of the grandchildren, feed them pizza and take them to Green Dot ice cream, while us adults would go wine tasting and have our own adventures. He would also take the boys fishing - and while they only ever caught a few tiny little fish, the memories were priceless.
During this time, Willie built his career at WNG/PSE which spanned 46 years until his retirement. He started as an entry-level Draftsman, worked his way up the corporate ladder and ended his career as the Manager overseeing the company’s labor relations and negotiations. He led by example and taught his kids the value of having a strong work ethic. He also showed his sense of community with his co-workers, often participating in off-work events like the annual Christmas party (including one picture of Chris peeing on Santa’s lap), and WNG Fishing Derbys. One time, he headed up the WNG Choir when they were chosen to sing the Star-Spangled Banner before a Mariners’ game at the Kingdome - he got Chris to volunteer to sing there as well.
Soon after retiring, Willie became less active than he was used to due to his health and a strict regimen of dialysis. Without complaint, he persevered, family was still his priority, and his love and pride in his grandchildren and great grandchildren never wavered. Although he couldn’t attend their events in person, he would always ask how they were doing and would eagerly listen as they told him about it and showed him pictures and videos. Thanks to modern technology, Willie was able to stay connected to his siblings via monthly Zoom meetings to simply catch up or pray the rosary together.
Before his passing, our last family gathering was on April 29, 2023 - his 75th birthday. Fittingly, his birthday was family-oriented and simple, choosing to spend quality time with the people he loved the most. He didn’t need a lavish or elaborate celebration, all he needed was his family around him, laughing, hugging and enjoying each other. That is how we will all remember him: the adventurer who traveled thousands of miles to build a life; the driven and hard-working employee; and the patriarch of the family, proud of all that his children and grandchildren have become.
The family will hold a vigil and rosary in his memory on Wednesday, May 17th at 4pm at Edline-Yahn & Covington Funeral Chapel (27221 156th Ave SE, Kent, WA 98042). His Mass of Christian Burial will be on Thursday, May 18th at 11am at St. John the Baptist Catholic Church (25810 156th Ave SE, Covington, WA 98042).
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