SALISBURY BEACH — Hailed as one of the last of the old guard of Salisbury Beach Center, 87-year old Fred Abdulla passed away peacefully on Saturday with his family around him.
Abdulla, who with his wife, Julia, lived in homes in North Andover and Salisbury Beach, spent more than 75 years at Joe’s Playland, the family’s Broadway business in Salisbury Beach Center. First as a teenager, Abdulla worked at the games arcade every summer for his uncle and aunt, Joseph and Jenny Haballa. Then, in the late 1940s, the Abdullas opened an ice cream stand, but by the 1960s, they owned and operated Joe’s Playland together, and they did so for the next half century.
Salisbury Selectman Ed Hunt, grew up in Salisbury and remembers Abdulla as one of the hardest working people he’s ever known, and one of the easiest to work with.
“He was there every day, seven days a week,” Hunt said. “I remember we kids looked up to him; he was friendly to us. He was an easy-going guy. He was a beautiful person.”
According to Salisbury Discount House owner Sandy Sheafer, advancing years didn’t keep Abdulla away, even after his children took over the business.
“He was at Joe’s Playland last year,” Sheafer said. “He was always there greeting people. It’s so sad, because he’s one of the last of the old-timers on the beach. He’s been a figurehead here for as long as I can remember.”
Salisbury Chamber of Commerce president Maria Miles was also saddened to hear of Abdulla’s passing, After knowing him since 1978, Miles said, his relaxed personality and helpful nature was a valued asset that will be missed.
“He was just a wonderful man,” Miles said. “I don’t ever remember him getting angry at anyone over anything. And he passed that on to his sons. He and his wife, Julia, were such a lovable couple. You could tell they were very much in love.”