The life and legacy of Abner McWhorter III
Abner was an all-around athlete and football star at St. Florian High School in Hamtramck, where he graduated from.
Abner McWhorter III, 41, was a multitalented visionary and self-taught entrepreneur with great humility. He began his first business venture at the age of 11, selling candy at school. Even with mastering the art of candy sales in both middle and high school, it didn’t provide enough revenue for Abner’s appetite, so he began a grass-cutting business that he called “Dr. Lawn Care.” Abner rented his mother’s van and lawn mower to serve his clients, but because he was under the legal age to drive, he had to hire workers old enough to drive.
By the time Abner was 16, he was the youngest partner in a retail operation called “The Donut Man,” located in a large downtown mall in Detroit. This endeavor helped him to further develop his management and negotiating skills. Oddly enough, everyone involved with the business, including the employees, were older than Abner, who was managing sales in excess of $1,000 a day on weekends.
At age 17 with a small loan from his uncle, he began his own picture-framing business called “The Frame Up” that generated gross sales in excess of $100,000 per year. Within a year, he opened his second framing retail store in the Millender Center and Omni International Hotel Complex, located in downtown Detroit’s financial district. At age 19, Abner was awarded a six-figure art supply contract from the city of Detroit, which was renewed for three consecutive years, making him the youngest person to ever hold a major contract with the city of Detroit.
Understanding the obstacles for young African Americans interested in starting their own business motivated Abner to write and publish “An Introduction to Business for African American Youth.” The book was praised by several major publications, including The Wall Street Journal and Black Enterprise. The book whet his appetite for publishing and led him to create a magazine insert in 1999 called OurPC, the first and only computer and Internet magazine for African Americans. The high demand by readers led him to create a subscription stand-alone magazine version of the insert. The publications, now online, feature a variety of topics from getting the best deal on a laptop to finding inexpensive private vacation villas.
In June 2002, Abner was inducted into the African American Business Hall of Fame with its Rising Star Award. He received awards too numerous to list. Abner continued to focus on expanding his real estate and alternative fuel transportation business. He was president of Paramount Land Holdings, which provides low-cost homeownership across the United States. In addition, he committed himself to ensuring that children who wanted to go to college could go by providing the “Show Up To Blow Up” college scholarship for perfect attendance.
Abner McWhorter III departed this life on Thursday, Aug. 25, 2011. His physical body may be gone, but the mark he made on the lives of those he encountered will last forever.
With all of his life’s accomplishments, he was a great father and family man. On April 4, 1993 he and Beverly Bates (life companion) were blessed with the birth of their only child, Zuri McWhorter. He truly loved his daughter. She was his world and his face would light up whenever he talked about her. He loved that his daughter would negotiate everything with him. When Zuri was only 3-years-old, he once said proudly, “Momma, Zuri talks about Winnie the Pooh to everybody else, but with me, she says, ‘Daddy let’s talk business.’” Abner was very proud that his daughter graduated with honors from Renaissance High School and attended Michigan State University. He loved to travel with his family, including his in-laws. He loved his mother; she was his friend, business advisor and so much more. Words cannot explain the love Abner had for his family and friends. He loved them deeply, especially the females in his family. He served as their protector. He showed great humility in everything he did.
He leaves to cherish his loving memory his daughter, Zuri McWhorter; Beverly Bates, life companion and the love of his life; his mother, Sharon McWhorter; his father, Abner McWhorter; stepmother Dorothy McWhorter; half-sister J’Guthrie “Nina” Jordan; step-sister Trina Marie Johnson and her son, Anthony Johnson, Jr.; grandparents Josie Azeez (husband Tariq Azeez), Angelina and William Benell McWhorter (grandfather deceased), host of aunts, uncles, cousins, other relatives and friends.
Memorial services were held Aug. 29-30.
A fund has been established in McWhorter III’s name. Please send donations to:
Show Up To Blow Up
453 Martin Luther King Blvd.
Detroit, MI 48201