Joseph C. Abdo is an American who has been living in Portugal since 1984. After a long career in health care planning and administration in California, he took a mid-life break and became an apprentice in a Portuguese ceramic tile painting factory. Although his original intent was to stay 6 months, he found the country, its people and the lifestyle to his liking and found a job teaching English as a foreign language to enable him to stay a while longer. This has turned out to be a long while and led to involvement in a variety of activities.

          While teaching English in the Portuguese School of Tourism he developed a great interest in the history and culture of Portugal and soon put it to use. He was asked to write an article on tile façades on Lisbon buildings for an airline magazine, and soon he was a regular contributor to several magazines in Portugal and abroad, having more than 80 articles to his credit. Along with writing articles, he also translated a number of articles and documents for publications and other clients.
His interest in writing evolved from articles to books. Noting that the century-old electric trams in Lisbon attracted many tourists, he wrote “Tram Tours of Lisbon”, which described the places of interest along the tram routes. The book has gone through two editions with the third in preparation.

          While organizing a book about walking tours in Lisbon, he decided that it would be more interesting to form a company and provide the walking tours directly. His guides at Walking Around Lisbon provide historical and cultural tours through Lisbon’s streets for tourists throughout the year. During the academic year the company provides tours for secondary schools to supplement their studies of Portuguese authors.

          Concurrently with the activities described above, he was involved with the local English-language theater group and performed in more than 20 plays. In addition, he had acting roles in several films, musicals and plays for foreign companies doing productions in Lisbon. He also was a radio announcer for the 1998 World Exposition in Lisbon.

          His background in health care was discovered and he was asked onto the Board of Directors of the British Hospital in Lisbon and later became its CEO. He was instrumental in forming a corporation to manage the hospital and provide a source of much needed capital. Currently he is on the Board of the now two British Hospitals, as well as the Association of Friends of the British Hospital.

          During a vacation to the Azores, he came across a reference to the Dabney family in a tourist brochure on the island of Faial. He looked for more information about this family that was so important in Faial and provided three generations of American Consuls to the Azores. However, he discovered that the last book about them dated from the early 20th century. He decided that an updated telling of their story was needed and his research and contact with the descendents of the Dabney family led him along the trail of an American family that had almost entirely escaped the investigations of American historians. “On the Edge of History” is a biography of this American family that was involved in many of the historical events that took place in the Atlantic during the 19th century. Its publication in 2006 coincides with the bicentennial of the U.S. Consulate in the Azores, the oldest continually functioning U.S. Consulate.

          Joseph Abdo is currently working on a biography of Samuel Longfellow, youngest brother of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and a tutor for the Dabney family children.

All content © 2006 Joseph C. Abdo