Dec 28th 1918 - May 28th 2012
With a life that spanned nearly a century, Mabel Abbs made a significant imprint on the hearts of so many within her reach. In the community she called home throughout the majority of her life, she took in so much of what the world has to offer, fully appreciating each breath. With the love of her life by her side, Mabel raised her beloved children to be people of great character whom she was so very proud of. Through her life we are reminded that happiness is not found in what we have, but in what we give to others. Mabel’s timeless legacy of wisdom, humility, and grace will live on in the hearts and lives of those who follow her.
The year 1918 found our nation engaged in the throes of WWI overseas. Although President Woodrow Wilson declared that America was too proud to fight, repeated hostile acts left us with no choice but to engage in the fight for the preservation of the freedoms we still enjoy today. This same year was filled with great anticipation for one young couple from Bay City, Michigan, as they were eagerly awaiting the birth of their new baby. Their wait was over when their healthy baby girl drew her first breath just as the year was coming to a close on December 28th. Baby Mabel was one of five girls born to her parents, Rozzo Floyd and Beatrice Pomeroy, and she was raised in the family home alongside her sisters, Beatrice, Vera, Elaine, and MaryJane. Her father was a piano tuner who also worked as a Bay County sheriff deputy during the days of prohibition while her mother was a seamstress.
In many ways Mabel experienced an upbringing that was reflective of the times. As a child, she made wooden guns with bands made from inner tubes, which she then shot at the neighborhood kids! At times, when Mabel heard her name being called around dinner time she assumed her mother was beckoning. When she arrived home, she discovered it had only been the neighbor’s parrot, not her mother! As a teenager her church group regularly made trips to Steven’s Dairy on 3rd Street in Bay City where they got a whole dish pan full of ice cream for only five cents. What great memories -- memories she always treasured.
Mabel attended local schools including Bay City Central, graduating in 1937. She received awards for perfect attendance and perfect handwriting. Her sister, Mary Jane recalls that the Pomeroy house always had the cleanest sidewalks in town because Mabel would sweep them so she did not have to help "do the dishes."
When young Mabel first laid eyes on a young man named Paul Abbs at a church youth group meeting, she was completely smitten as she found him to be “so handsome.” Since she was just 14 at the time she was much too young to date. That being the case, Paul dated Mabel’s sister, Vera instead until Mabel turned 16. Mabel’s first date with Paul was a trip to the movies. They double dated with Ford Merritt and Eunice Weiss as Mabel could only double date since she was only 16.
With a desire to build a life together, Mabel and her sweetheart were married on November 20, 1941, at Fremont Avenue United Methodist Church. When Pearl Harbor landed on our doorstep just a short time later on December 7, 1941, America was forever changed. A year later, Mabel and Paul moved to an Army camp in Leesburg, Florida, with their first son, Lyn, who was born on October 25, 1942. Mabel later moved to an apartment on 32nd and Stanton in Bay City while Paul shipped out to Saipan in the South Pacific for three and a half years. In addition to their son, Lyn, Mabel and Paul were the proud parents of three more children: Jay, Kay, and Guy.
From the time she became a mother Mabel fully embraced the enormity of the task. She made sure her children toed the line, too, as she ran a rather tight ship. Although local child protective services would be called to her home in today’s world, her children knew their mother meant business when she warned, “I’m going to get out the stick,” which referred to a slat from a baby bed! Other times when her children misbehaved she put them to work dusting her collection of miniature bottles. As her children, grew, Kay (who was unquestionably "the princess" in the family) and Guy always claimed that Jay was the "chosen one". As a high-schooler and into college, Jay would charge clothes at Ford's Clothing without telling Mabel. Mabel would receive the monthly bill. She would be furious, but when confronted, Jay would sweet talk her and all was forgiven.
Throughout her life Mabel had much to celebrate. What a Mother’s Day gift it was when her youngest son, Guy, was born on the day we honor mothers in 1954. It was also a day to celebrate when she and Paul celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary in 1991 with a celebration at the local Elks lodge. With a deep love for the world around her Mabel felt truly blessed when her son, Jay, arranged memorable trips for her to Southern California for the Colorado River Fair. She was delighted as her family tree grew to include eleven grandchildren, thirteen great-grandchildren, and five great-great-grandchildren. Mabel loved being a grandmother and was known for her Grandma Mabel fudge and Grandma Mabel bars.
Over the years Mabel’s church home, Fremont Avenue United Methodist Church, was a cornerstone in her life. She was active in a variety of ways including as a custodian for 36 years, serving during coffee hour for 25 years, and as a Sunday school teacher. Mabel also enjoyed bowling, singing in the choir, and camping with her church.
She loved spending time with others, too, including on Caseville Picnics with her family, friends, and sisters. Mabel was always one to be busy - even during her sunset years. Mabel enjoyed doing jigsaw puzzles and playing bingo at her assisted living home for as long as she was able.
A vibrant, kindhearted, and compassionate woman, Mabel Abbs was an extraordinary woman to know and love. She was a devoted wife and mother who poured her heart and soul into caring for those she loved. Mabel loved purple anything, traveling, and playing games, yet nothing was more near and dear to her heart than the people she cherished. Life will never be the same without her here, but the memories she leaves behind will be priceless treasures for years to come.
Mabel Abbs of Bay City died Monday, May 28, 2012, at her home. Mabel’s family includes her children: Jay (Peggy) Abbs, Kay (Mike) Meyer, Guy (Marilyn) Abbs, Lyn deceased in April 1969. 11 Grandchildren; 13 great-grandchildren; and 5 great-great-grandchildren. A funeral service will be held at 11:00 a.m. on Monday, June 4, 2012, at Fremont Avenue United Methodist Church, 510 Fremont Street, Bay City. Reverend Sue Platt will officiate. The family will receive friends at the Hyatt-Ewald Funeral Home on Sunday, June 3, 2012, from 1:00-7:00 p.m. and on Monday at the church from 10:00 a.m. until the time of service. Those considering an expression of sympathy are asked to consider memorial contributions to Fremont United Methodist Church, Bay City. Please visit www.hyattewald.com where you can leave a memory or sign the online guestbook.