Mabel's Story

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HOULTON - Mabel Watts Haskell died March 31, 2015, at the Madigan Estates in Houlton, Maine. She was born on June 26, 1915, and was less than three months from her 100th birthday when she died.

Mabel was born and raised in Portland, Maine, the daughter of Frank and Mildred (Shurtleff) Watts. She was a graduate of Deering High School's Class of 1933. At Deering she played on the girl's basketball team and noted it took courage to play basketball in those days because the girls had to wear purple bloomers on the court!

She graduated from Bradford Junior College in 1935 and in 1938 she earned a degree in Physical Education from Bouve College of Health Sciences, a division of Northeastern University. After graduation she taught Phys Ed at St. Agnes Episcopal Day School in Albany NY. While in Albany she agreed to a blind date with Floyd Haskell of Houlton and the two were married in 1940. They enjoyed a very long and happy marriage for 65 years until his death in 2005.

Mabel was the quintessential "stay at home" mother of that era, not unlike the woman in shows like "Father Knows Best" and "Leave it to Beaver". Her family always came first and she was very actively engaged in a host of civic and community events and organizations.

Her children always felt she took mothering to the ultimate level with her patience, love, positive outlook and caring.

She was a tireless volunteer for many years at many programs at the First Baptist Church in Houlton. She supported the Houlton Community Concert Series. She volunteered at the Houlton Hospital Gift Shop, was a Girl Scout troop leader, a Cub Scout den mother and was active in the Eastern Star. When Floyd retired they spent winters in Fort Myers, FL where she continued her active life of giving by volunteering at an area soup kitchen, at two hospital gift shops and baking for various charity bake sales. She also worked as a Literacy Volunteer.

As busy as Mabel was, she was never "all work and no play". She had a wonderful sense of humor and was known as an eternal optimist. She was always cheerful, had a huge and infectious positive attitude and could find the silver lining in any dark cloud. During a long rainy weekend of camping with her family, she would peak out the soggy tent and exclaim "I think it's getting brighter!" Mabel always looked for the good in any person or situation. Her outlook and philosophy were well expressed in two quotes she had saved for many years. They read:

"Happiness often sneaks in through a door you didn't know you left open" and "Everything has its beauty, the joy is to see it".

Mabel was also an accomplished athlete, a master duplicate bridge player and a tireless outdoors woman. She loved being active and staying fit and instilled that love in her family. She loved golf, skiing, bowling, camping, swimming and square dancing. She and her family spent summers at their family cottage at Higgins Beach, Scarborough and she took great pride in swimming in the ocean nearly every day. She did that well into her 80's! For her 80th birthday she requested and received a new bicycle which she immediately took out for a spin.

Mabel's dedication to the Boston Red Sox was legendary. She was absolutely thrilled when they won the World Series in 2004 and was proud to say she was alive when they won in 1918. She loved her BoSox and was known to get up in the wee hours if they were playing a west coast game, to check the score. She just could not wait until morning to learn if "her boys" had won.

Mabel is survived, and will be sadly missed, by her daughter Sara Douglas and husband Gregory of Dyer Brook; her son Dr. David Haskell and wife Karen of Portland. "Guppie" will be especially missed by her three grandchildren - Steven Douglas and wife Kim; Susan Douglas; and Ross Haskell and wife Jean. She was also very proud of her great grandchildren, Rachel and Matthew Douglas, Emily and Molly Shaw and Alexander and Evan Griffith-Haskell. Mabel was also close to her only niece Barbara Dombek and husband John of Utah, and to many loving grand nieces and nephews who stayed in close touch with her throughout her long life.

Mabel's death leaves a giant void in the hearts and lives of her entire family but she taught us all to live our lives with a positive outlook and she will never be forgotten. In the notes she left as reference for this obituary, she concluded saying "I've had a wonderful life".

She also created a wonderful life for all of her family and friends. And we will forever be grateful for her example of good nature and optimism when we say "...I think it is getting brighter".

At her request there will be no calling hours. A graveside service and remembrance will be held on June 26, the date of her 100th birthday when her ashes will be joined with Floyd's. At that time family and friends are invited to join in a celebration of her life at Sara and Greg's home in Dyer Brook.

In lieu of flowers, donations in Mabel's memory may be sent to the First Baptist Church at 46 Court Street, Houlton, ME 04730.
Published on  April 2, 2015
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