EARLY RESIDENTS 2015
Abraham and Hayat Shelhoup, who lived in a large Mediterranean style home on a hill overlooking Vista, were both natives of Douma, Lebanon, where Abraham was born January 24, 1902. "Abe", as Vistans knew him, came to this country in 1920 to join his father, Mike Shel-houp, who had come to Brawley, California, some seven years earlier.
With his father he came to Vista in 1928 and they purchased a grocery store and butcher shop located in the Pechstein Building in the 100 block of East Vista Way, just east of Santa Fe Avenue. Adding dry goods, "Abe" and his father continued the operation of this market. The two worked together until 1936 when "Abe” bought his father's interest in the business.
"Abe" sold the market in 1938 and established a variety store. In 1941 he opened his well known Department Store at 236 East Vista Way (now 236 Main Street), where he sold only name brand merchandise and took great pride in the fact that he served second and third generation customers of some Vista families.
In 1948, Mr. Shelhoup built the Avo Theatre, where Vistans have enjoyed moving pictures throughout the years. The Avo has seen many civic gatherings also, such as the crown-ings of Miss Vista and some theatrical show-ings.
Mike Shelhoup, Abraham's father, died in February of 1955 at age 84. Mrs. Mike Shelhoup died in Lebanon in 1978, having attained the-age of 103 years.
Hayat Shelhoup came to America in 1940, having lived for a time in Central America and Mexico. Abraham and Hayat's son, Kamal, holds a doctorate in Political Science from Claremont Graduate School, and is also an accomplished avia-tor. He has been selected to appear in the 13th Edition of Who's Who in California.
Abraham was a member of Vista Lodge No. 687, F&AM, Al Bahr Shrine in San Diego, Scottish Rite Bodies, member and past president of Palomar Shrine Club, Vista High 12 Club, Boys' Club of Vista, Director of San Diego County Red Cross, and Vista Rotary Club. He was a staunch supporter of All Saints Epis-copal Church.
Over the years he worked constantly behind the scenes to make Vista a better place. He do-nated the 286 trees that line East Vista Way; gave two fountains to the city, one at Vista High School, the other near East Vista Way and Indiana Avenue. He provided eight benches for the down-town area, and tables and benches in Soroptimist Park on North Santa Fe Avenue.
He said he enjoyed doing things for people, and many Christmas baskets were provided to needy families with no recognition being sought. While he shunned office holding, he was a guiding force in the city's development.
In addition to his flawless English, he spoke his na-tive Arabic, Russian, French and Spanish.
Vista would not have been the same without Abraham Shelhoup. Abraham Shelhoup died of a heart attack on Sunday, August 16, 1981. He was 79 years of age.