When George Abram let his trademark “Three!” fly over the PA system, Oberlin basketball fans went wild.
Known for his energetic microphone work at Indians and Phoenix games for 39 years, Abram could bring the gym to its feet after every trey.
He was arguably the biggest supporter of Oberlin athletics, including the Yeomen football and basketball teams, and earned the nickname “The Voice of Oberlin Sports.” He once told the News-Tribune that he got as charged up by the energy of the crowd as it got listening to him, and he loved when that energy spiked mid-game.
Abram passed away Sunday, March 18 at age 89, a little more than year after he retired from his long announcing career.
“He believed in trying to work and help everyone. He acknowledged that community is like your family,” said his sister, Drema Abram Brown.
She described her brother as constantly surprised that young Oberlin students would recognize him in public.
“They would see him and think it was a big deal,” she said, pride swelling in her voice. “He couldn’t believe that someone thought something of that.”
Phoenix boys basketball coach Kurt Russell graduated from OHS in 1990 after playing varsity for two years. He remembers his friends feeling excited to hear Abram’s voice during games: “That’s what we lived for,” said said.
“When you think of iconic individuals in Oberlin, you think of George Abram. He’s been such a big influence on my life. The way he carried himself as an announcer is the way I’ve always tried to model myself as a coach,” Russell said.
Abram’s sense of humor is what sticks out in his mind. Before every game, he would tell the boys a joke to set that at ease — and he’d always tell them, “Don’t work on those plays, just go out there and beat those boys,” Russell remembers.
Oberlin College is also mourning Abram.
“We will miss George and his booming voice, but most of all, we will miss how he showed up for Oberlin College athletics,” said Natalie Winkelfoos, associate vice president for athletics advancement. “George was authentic and his positivity was contagious. His smile was gold. We are so grateful for the years George spent with us.”
Abram will be inducted into the Heisman Club Hall of Honor at Oberlin College on May 26.
Abram lived in Oberlin for nearly a half century but attended neither OHS nor the college. His love for the town and its teams came from a deep sense of community, said his sister.
He studied at Bluefield State College in West Virginia and Cleveland Marshall Law School in Cleveland and previously worked for the Regional Transit Authority as director of the office of equal opportunity, then managed WABQ radio in Cleveland. For the past 17 years, he was a realtor at Howard Hanna in Amherst.
Abram founded the Boys and Girls Club of Lorain County and served as president of its board of directors. He also worked tirelessly on the Oberlin Underground Railroad Center.
A memorial service is planned for Tuesday, March 27 at First Church in Oberlin.
Jason Hawk can be reached at 440-775-1611 or @EditorHawk on Twitter.