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Kathleen "Kitty" Mabie

Loving mother, fount of patience and kindness

Kathleen Marie Mabie, a longtime Claremont resident, died on Saturday, February 18, 2017. She was 86.

She was born in Milwaukee, Wisconsin on August 17, 1929. Her parents Roy and Laura McGowan had one other child, James. After high school, Kathleen was drawn to the convent and became a novice with the Sisters of Mercy in Des Plaines, Illinois, taking the name Sister Mary Moninne. After her novitiate year she left the convent to serve God non-secularly.

In 1948 she enrolled at Marquette University as a botany major. It was in biology lab that she was paired by alphabet with her lab partner Richard Mabie, who was from Fond du Lac. Kathleen and Richard dated for more than three years and then, with his degree in medicine, hers in botany and a powerful faith in God, they married. “Our parents’ love for one another was absolute. As children, we never heard them quarrel. Their affection was obvious, sincere and true,” their children shared.

After graduating from medical school, Dr. Mabie enlisted in the US Navy and both he and Mrs. Mabie were stationed in Sasebo, Japan in 1956. They lived in a Japanese-style home rather than on the naval base, and Kathleen established close friendships with their neighbors. Upon their return in 1958 they chose California as their home, settling in Claremont. Together they raised nine children.

They lived in Claremont the rest of their lives and were devout parishioners of Our Lady of Assumption Catholic Church. Mrs. Mabie led a life of meaning and purpose. While her husband was at the hospital, she organized the household. It was more than a full-time job, yet she did it quietly, efficiently and with a smile. She brought order to what could have been chaos. When her kids woke up, she was already assembling lunches for all nine of them. At dinnertime, they lined up cafeteria-style.

Of strong Irish stock, Mrs. Mabie’s hair was red, her skin freckled and her laugh memorable. She had a perpetual twinkle in her eye. She loved music and never hesitated to sing a tune, put on an album, or both. She was a leader, organizer, teacher, counselor and activist. In the busiest of years she had much to attend to: PTA, a student in every grade, recreation league basketball, AYSO soccer, Scouting, track and field and gymnastics. She would cheer her children on at various elementary schools and high schools including Claremont, Damien and St. Lucy’s—sometimes spending half the game cheering on one side of the stadium and the second half on the other side.

At the end of the school year, Mrs. Mabie would turn the patio into a classroom. She tilted up large chalkboards against the wall and handed out study booklets. Every morning of the summer recess she would help her children prepare for the coming school year. She challenged them to think, encouraged them to believe and always supported their goals. Her support bore fruit. All nine of her children graduated from four-year universities, with many earning graduate degrees.

Summer vacations were spent camping and backpacking in the Sierra Nevada or on trips to the beach in San Diego. Winters were highlighted by fun at the family cabin on Mt. Baldy. Mrs. Mabie never hesitated to play in the snow with the kids. She loved the outdoors, and wrote letters to the tobacco industry protesting ads showing hikers smoking cigarettes in the forest.

She had a profound commitment to serving those most in need. Along with fellow members of their parish, Kathleen and Richard led efforts to provide free pediatric care to thousands of children in the Pico-Union neighborhood of Los Angeles. Clinic patients were primarily undocumented refugees and immigrants from Central America and Mexico who sought out clinic service they could trust. Mrs. Mabie also served as a volunteer through the office of the Inland Hospice Association and at the food bank sponsored by the Pomona Valley Council of Churches.  

She loved to travel and, with her husband, visited Central America, many European countries and many US states, including Alaska. The couple was repeatedly drawn to Hawaii, particularly Hana. Mrs. Mabie enjoyed traveling regardless of the climate and took time to write about her experiences on the road. She also wrote poetry. After all her children had left the nest, she wrote one poem that speaks sadly of missing the sound of a young child’s feet running across the floor.

Family described Kathleen as an amazing woman who faced every challenge with patience “and a calm reserved for angels” and who lived her life with a heart full of love and kindness.

“Our mother was the steady and soothing center of our universe, always ready to bring joy into our lives, make us giggle and laugh, and feel loved. Ours was a blessed life with a mother so thoughtful, caring and kind,” her children shared. She will be profoundly missed, they added, but emphasized that each of her children will be consoled knowing her spirit and example will always be with them.

She was preceded in death by her loving husband of 60 years, Dr. Richard H. Mabie, daughter Jane, son James, daughter-in-law Rhonda Heth and grandson Jason. She is survived by her children and their spouses, Thomas Harry, Laura Ellen (Keith Serxner), Kenneth John (Patti), Ann Moninne (Frank DeRuyter), Mary Therese (Bill Platt), Peter David (Gwen), William Allen (Denise Mendoza) and Michael Joseph (Nora); by 15 grandchildren, Margaret, Claire, Joseph, Melissa, Lauren, Julia, Thomas Jr., Michael, Kathleen, Grace, Emily, John, Roy, Sarah and Daniel; and by four great-grandchildren, Olivia, Thomas, Benjamin and Everett.

A rosary service was held Thursday, April 6 at Todd Memorial Chapel in Claremont. Funeral services were held April 7 at St. Joseph Catholic Church in Upland.

In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to the Alzheimer’s Association, 225 N. Michigan Ave., 17th Floor, Chicago, IL 60601-7633 or by visiting www.alz.org.

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