It's hard to look at Bob Abbott, or a picture of Bob Abbott for that matter, and not smile. He always looks so happy, and his bright demeanor is infectious.
And behind that big smile is an equally big heart, and he has two presidential awards to prove it -- from two different presidents.
Abbott recently received a Lifetime Achievement Award from President Joe Biden. As Abbott put it, the thing just showed up in his mailbox. And three years ago, he received the Volunteer Service Award from then-President Donald Trump.
Wow and wow! The mysterious part is that Abbott has had to sorta piece together what the awards are for, and he has no clue as to the person who might have nominated him. Likely a kind soul who knows Abbott for what he is, a cheerful giver of his time and talents who has been doing such for decades.
Much of volunteerism has been spent helping the cause of kidney patients. That story goes back to when he was young -- more than 50 years ago -- and his father came down with what was then thought to be a life-ending kidney ailment.
That experience was enough to motivate Abbott to a life of pushing treatments and dialysis availability and helping people get assistance to pay for such. That took getting changes made to the Social Security regulations, which Abbott, with some help, accomplished.
Then there's his nursing home work. Abbott, who is in his late 80s and who has seen any number of friends and acquaintances move into nursing homes, has lobbied for nursing homes to take better care of their patients, and he has volunteered hundreds of hours in nursing homes to make that happen.
As Abbott said: "It's an issue no one wants to pay attention to but something that certainly needs attention."
All in all, Abbott, who has received any number of accolades across the years, is pretty much blown away by the presidential attention he's received. Not many people get even one such honor, but two is, well, unique, we imagine, or close to it.
"They both have to do with volunteering," Abbott said. "I never dreamed I would receive two awards by two different presidents in two different years. It's unbelievable."
Well, but Abbott is pretty unbelievable, too. It's nice that he was noticed in such a big way. Congratulations, Mr. Abbott. You make Pine Bluff proud!