Abbie Huckleby on retirement: ‘I’m not designed to relax’

After 31 years at ConocoPhillips, Katy resident pursues her culinary dreams

By Gus Morgan

After 31 years of service at ConocoPhillips, Abbie Huckleby is retiring.

But that doesn’t mean she’s taking it easy. Quite the contrary.  

“I’m not designed to relax,” said Abbie, an administrative assistant for many of her years at ConocoPhillips. “I’m not wired that way. I have to be doing something.”  

Abbie, a Katy resident, will now have time to focus on her passion: cooking.

“I can cook from sunup to sundown,” she said. “To me, cooking isn’t work. Cooking is relaxing to me. I’m in my haven when I’m in my kitchen.”

I can cook from sunup to sundown.

Abbie Huckleby

Moving ahead, Abbie plans to focus on her small business, Abbie's Plant Based Cuisine. In addition, she’ll be working part-time as a plant-based chef at Brookwood Community Center in Brookshire, Texas.

“I’ll be implementing plant-based meals to the residents (adults with disabilities) who live there in hopes of aiding them with their health issues.”

Over the years, Abbie tackled a variety of roles at ConocoPhillips ⏤ such as her first job in the mailroom; to a human resources job overseeing the company’s drug-testing program; to working as a reservoir technician. But she’s most known for her administrative assistant duties.

Three women posed inside home with holiday decorations
Abbie with her daughters, Alayna, left, and Laura
'I have a serving spirit'

“I have a serving spirit,” she said. “I like serving people and making everyone happy and meeting everyone’s needs.”

Known for her calming demeanor, Abbie recalled her proudest moment at the company, which happened in 2016 when the oil industry was in a downturn.

“Everyone was sitting on pins and needles,” she said, “I felt like I needed to do something to boost morale on our floor.”

Dave Mabee, her supervisor at the time, approved her plan: Wild and Weird on Wednesdays.  

Employees had to wear the day’s designated clothing item — be it a shirt, socks, hat, pants or shoes — with one caveat: it had to be wild and weird.

“To my amazement, people participated,” she said. “It was a hit, and it boosted morale.”

On Thursdays, Abbie would bring the winners a homemade cake, pie or cookies. Abbie earned recognition for her initiative.

“I brought happiness to a time that was not so happy.”

So when the announcement came out regarding Abbie’s retirement, she got an email from Mabee, her former supervisor, recalling those days.  

'A breath of fresh air to work with'

“You were always a breath of fresh air to work with,” Mabee said. “You always brightened my day and you were just so proactive in supporting me and all of the team back in the early Permian days.”

Abbie said she has been able to put her two daughters through school with the help of ConocoPhillips’ Dependent Scholarships.

“They are now grown and on their own,” she said.

Her youngest daughter Laura is working as a tax accountant with PricewaterhouseCoopers in Atlanta, Ga., and her daughter Alayna is working on her Ph.D. in Material Science Engineering at Florida A&M University in Tallahassee, Fla.

“ConocoPhillips has been nothing but good to me and my family,” she said. “I tell my daughters, ‘Never stop dreaming. Never stop believing. Even if something seems far-fetched, it’s attainable.’”

Changing to a plant-based diet

In 2014, with both her daughters off to college, Abbie finally had time to focus on herself.  

Abbie Huckleby straight on pose
In 2014, Abbie started transitioning to a plant-based diet. She documented her weight-loss journey and plant-based lifestyle on Facebook. For the last seven years, Abbie has participated in the U.S. Health Improvement Incentive Program offered by ConocoPhillips. She credits the program's biometric screenings with helping her assess her health. “The biometric screenings helped motivate me," she said, "especially when I saw my body mass index (BMI) and cholesterol numbers go down.”  

To improve her health, Abbie joined a weight-loss program. Over a two-year period, Abbie lost 67 pounds, and her energy level skyrocketed.

She learned portion control, how to combat cravings and how to prepare and cook healthier versions of her favorite foods. She was on her way to eating only plant-based foods.

“I loved the new me,” she said.

She joined vegan Facebook sites and learned more about plant-based eating. Abbie even convinced her husband, Stacy, to switch to a plant-based diet. It took them about six months to transition off eating meat.

“Pork was a beast to give up,” she said. “We both started noticing how much better we felt, how much better we slept, how much energy we had and the clarity of thinking and the alert consciousness we had since giving up meat.”

Abbie started sharing her weight-loss journey and her plant-based lifestyle on Facebook.  She posted photos of the meals she had prepared. Others quickly took notice. Before long, Abbie had numerous clients she was preparing meals for. From this, Abbie’s Plant Based Cuisine was born. 

As Abbie embarks on her new culinary career, she’s thankful for her time at ConocoPhillips.

“I’m so grateful for all that I have learned working at ConocoPhillips and grateful for all the people I’ve worked with and some are now dear friends of mine,” she said. “I’m so looking forward to my new endeavors, but I will often look back at my time spent with a great company.”

'I will miss the life stories of my friends and coworkers'

Most of all, Abbie said she’ll miss listening to everyone’s stories.

“You grow with these people, and you learn what’s going on with them outside the company. I will miss the life stories of my friends and coworkers. I’m going to miss a lot of that.”