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GUEST COLUMN: Mabel was an inspiration

Saturday will be a celebration of the life of a very special lady! Mabel O’Hara was a born and bred Streator citizen who was active in Streator activities and events for more than 80 years before she moved to California to be with her daughter Kathleen’s family.

I first met Mabel when I founded Gingerbread Players. She came to auditions and I was immediately taken with this outspoken peppery white-haired tiny dynamo who was always ready to get up and go. She began her acting career when she was in her 50s and appeared on stage as well as backstage for many shows. She even directed a few shows herself.

Mabel was an inspiration to all who knew her. Besides raising two girls and four boys she was an active member of her church. She attended St. Mary’s Church every morning and was a lay reader and member of several altar groups.

Truly proud of her nursing vocation she worked for Drs. Schiffbauer and Moore. Later, she “retired” so that she would have more time to volunteer. And volunteer she did! She was never too busy to bring dinner to a family in need or drive a friend to a doctor’s appointment. An ongoing kindness was picking up and taking a friend who had a stroke to the Y for therapy. This included helping her dress and guiding her to the pool.

Besides her charitable spirit which was such an inspiration and a role model for me, was her right on — go-to spirit. She was always ready for an adventure. We’d go for a drive and end up gone for the day as we’d encounter some new experience. Sometimes, we’d even get lost on purpose, just to discover little hideaway jewels. One day we went to visit a distant long lost cousin near Utica and found ourselves hiking a trail we’d never been on before. Another time, we landed at a Bluegrass Festival near Granville. And then there was the time we explored a nontrail along the Vermilion River near Mattheissen Park… she was in her 70s by then and I, a mere 40-plus, was huffing and puffing long before her!

Now, I’m in my 70s and am still impressed by her willingness to tackle roles at Engle Lane, Gingerbread Players, and Peacock Players. She never said NO! “Can’t” wasn’t in her vocabulary!

Mabel passed away in September 2017, just a month before she would have turned 100. Hers was a life filled with family and friends. Hers was a life filled with service to others. Hers was a life filled to the fullest! Lots of O’Haras will descend on Streator to lay her to rest next to her husband, Bill. They invite YOU: her former neighbors, friends, and colleagues to join in their celebration of her life. Think of some of those memories you shared with her.

In addition, her son, Tom, who passed away last winter, will also be interred. He, too, grew up in Streator — class of 1959. If you knew Tom come and celebrate his life also.

The interment will take place at Lost Lands cemetery in Eagle Township at 10 a.m. Saturday, July 14, while memories will be shared and celebrated at a luncheon following the interment at the Knights of Columbus Hall at noon. Her family would love to see and meet the people who shared their mother and brother’s Streator lives. Hope we see you there.

Donna Stone, of Streator, is a former Write Team member

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