For 50 years, George “Doc” Abraham and his wife Katy offered advice to amateur and expert gardeners. The Abrahams debuted on WHAM 1180-AM in Rochester, N.Y., in 1952. Their half-hour call-in show, “The Green Thumb,” featured poetry recitations and advice on flowers, vegetable gardens and lawn care. The popular gardening program also aired on WOKR-TV Channel 13 for many years.
Health problems forced the couple to broadcast their final show on Dec. 14, 2002, but they continued to teach gardening classes in the Finger Lakes region. For hosting one of the longest-running shows on American radio, the Abrahams were inducted into the Rochester Radio Hall of Fame.
Born in Wayland, N.Y., Abraham was only five years old when he decided to become a plant doctor. From that point on, everyone — including his neighbor Katy — called him “Doc.” Abraham and Katy both graduated from Cornell University with double degrees in horticulture and journalism. During World War II, he served with the U.S. Army in North Africa while she worked at a munitions plant in Ithaca, N.Y. They wed in 1942 while he was on a 36-hour leave.
After the war, Abraham and Katy opened a small greenhouse business, had two children, Darryl and Leanna, and began writing a gardening column. Syndicated in 130 newspapers, the column once reached 5 million readers; it still appears in dozens of small newspapers and magazines. The couple also published 16 gardening books, including “The Green Thumb Garden Handbook,” “Green Thumb Wisdom: Garden Myths Revealed!” and “Growing Plants From Seed.” Abraham’s autobiography, “A Bathtub Built for Two,” will hit store shelves this summer.
Abraham died on Jan. 27 of complications from congestive heart failure. He was 89. The gardening guru and his co-host wife always ended their radio program with a simple sign-off: “Goodbye, friends. We gotta grow now!”
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