Independents

Larry Abels, Founder of Selco Custom Time Corp, Dies at 82

IndependentsDec 14, 2021

Larry Abels, Founder of Selco Custom Time Corp, Dies at 82

He joined the Selco jewelry chain in the 1960s, eventually becoming president and selling the jewelry division to focus on watches.

Larry Abels, who joined Selco in the 1960s and built its focus on watches and clocks, died Sept. 21.
Tulsa, Okla.—Larry Abels, a longtime industry veteran and founder of Selco Custom Time, died Sept. 21 in Tulsa, Oklahoma at the age of 82. 
 
Born to Ziprea “Zippy” Abels Massie and Jerome Abels of Healdton, Oklahoma on Feb. 11, 1939, Abels attended the University of Oklahoma, where he studied for three years before leaving to work in the family business. 
 
He met his future wife, Felice Seligson Abels, the daughter of Jack and Eunice Seligson, as a teenager, and after years of courtship, the two decided to marry in 1960, right around the time Abels decided to join the family at work. 
 
His father-in-law, Jack, was the founder of Selco, a regional jewelry store chain based out of Tulsa. Abels joined that business in 1962. 
 
As his career grew there, so too did their family. They had three children: Jerome, Lisa, and Mark. 
 
In 1976, Abels became president of Selco, working to expand and build the company.
 
He decided to sell the fine jewelry division, which consisted of 59 stores and salons, to Zales in 1980, allowing him to follow his passion and focus on watches and clocks, according to an obituary from Selco.
 
Abels devoted the rest of his career to growing the division while also maintaining its integrity as well as the trust of customers. 
 
And while his focus was always on the company and his family life in Tulsa, the Abels also kept an eye on the future and prepared for their later years, Selco said. 
 
They purchased a condo in Florida in 1989, a decision guided by Abels’ love of boating, water skiing, and being on the water. 
 
In 1995, Abels and his wife became permanent residents of Florida, though he continued to successfully run the company until 2000, at which time he named his son Mark as president while he assumed the title of chairman of the board. 
 
And as the active person he was, even his retirement didn’t seem like retirement.
 
His involvement with the company continued, as Abels regularly attended trade shows until 2019 and would counsel his son until his death. 
 
He also loved traveling the world and spending time with his wife, kids, grandkids, and friends. 
 
Abels is survived by his brother, Charles, and sister, Cheryl; children Jerome, Lisa, and Mark (Tami McBrier Abels); and grandchildren Keagan, Cody, Tiffany, and Parker.

Brecken Branstratoris the senior editor, gemstones at National Jeweler, covering sourcing, pricing and other developments in the colored stone sector.

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