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Joseph C. Abdo, who prefers to be called Joe, 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 as a regular contributor to several magazines in Portugal and abroad, having more than 80 articles to his credit.
His interest in writing evolved from articles to books after noting that the century-old electric trams in Lisbon attracted many tourists. As a result he wrote “Tram Tours of Lisbon”, which described the places of interest along the tram routes. Joe then started on a book describing walking tours in Lisbon. However, he decided that it would be more interesting to form a company and provide the walking tours directly with a specialty in historical and literary tours in Lisbon for secondary schools streets, as well as tourists.
During a vacation to the Azores, Joe came across a reference to the Dabney family from Boston in a tourist brochure on the island of Faial. However, there was little information about this family that provided three generations of American Consuls to the Azores in the 19th century and he decided to tell the story of this important but unknown American family in the book “On the Edge of History”.
Joe Abdo also published “The Quiet Radical,” the biography of Samuel Longfellow, youngest brother of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. He was influential in the more radical social and religious movements of the 19th century.
Currently he is working on the story of Portuguese Jesuit Padre Antonio de Andrade, first European to cross the Himalayas to Tsaparang in the kingdom of Guge in western Tibet. He established a mission there that only functioned for 14 years and closed not long after the conquest of Guge by the neighboring kingdom of Ladakh, partly to stop the Christian influence. The title of the soon to be published book is The Christian Discovery of Tibet.
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 has been an actor in several films, musicals and plays for foreign companies doing productions in Lisbon, as well as a radio announcer for the 1998 World Exposition in Lisbon.
Joe’s background in health care in California 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 to provide a source of much needed capital. In addition a second British Hospital opened and he served on its Board of Directors.
Joe has now retired and travels between Lisbon and Hollywood, where he has made some short films.