Mabel was born April 26, 1913 in Wilson, Idaho, the oldest of three daughters born to Albert and Victoria Austin. She grew up in various remote towns and lumber camps in central and southwestem Idaho. In 1932 she graduated as salutatorian from New Meadows High School in central Idaho, and she attended the Southern Branch of the University of Idaho at Pocatello, Idaho for one year.
Mabel married Vernon "Pete" Vavrick May 18, 1935 in Caldwell, Idaho by the same minister who had married her parents years before. They first resided in Boise, Idaho and moved to Salt Lake City in 1941 where Pete worked for the Remington Small Arms Plant. In 1943 they moved to Hanford and in 1944 to a ranch outside Thompson Falls in Sanders County, Montana. They remained in this area for the next 30 years, selling the ranch and moving into town in the late 1950s. While living on the ranch she entered and won a national contest to design and remodel her entire kitchen. .
October 24, 1949 she gave birth to her only child Patricia Marie in Boise, Idaho. She was advised to stay with an aunt and uncle in Boise for six weeks prior to delivery since at the advanced age of 36 it was felt there might be complications which there were not. After moving into Thompson Falls she began working at the First State Bank on the condition that she could go home at 3 p.m. to be there when Patty got home from school.
In the early 1970s Pete and Mabel retired to Mesa, Arizona, coming north to Montana during the summer months. The birth of two grandsons in the 1980s contributed to their return to Montana once again as permanent residents. They moved to Hamilton in 1985. Mabel and Pete were married for 67 years until his death in 2002 at the age of 94. Later that year she moved to the Waterford in Butte to be close to her daughter and family. After a stroke in 2004 she moved to the Crest Nursing Home where she resided until her death. Mabel was a member of the Community Congregational Church, Thompson Falls, the Business and Professional Women’s Club, and the Order of Eastern Star where she held several offices including Worthy Matron.
When Mabel retired she began taking art classes and created many beautiful oil and watercolor paintings and pastels. Pete encouraged her in her artistic endeavors: stating that he hoped she could sell one for an astronomical amount. She was an accomplished seamstress, a skill she learned from her mother and grandmother who were trained in the profession. She also embroidered, crocheted, and knitted. Before retirement Pete and Mabel joined the newly organized golf club in Thompson Falls. She became an excellent golfer and loved to play with the Bonnie Highlanders at the municipal course in Butte often beating women decades younger than she. Mabel was kind, affectionate, thoughtful, and a dead-eye with a rifle once beating her husband in a local shooting competition much to his delight. She was elegant, graceful, and proper which belied her rough-and-ready upbringing. In 1999 after much nagging by her daughter she wrote a fascinating family history.
The biggest thrill of her long, full life was the birth of her two grandsons, Chris and Tony. She took them on long walks to collect rocks and insects, to the park where she played with them on the equipment, and to the pond in Hamilton to feed the ducks.
Besides her husband, Pete, she was preceded in death by her sisters, Edna Sloan of North Carolina and Bernice Brady of Arizona, and her son-in-law, Robert Martina of Butte.
Mabel is survived by her daughter, Patricia Martina, of Butte, two grandsons, Chris of Denver and Tony of Butte, a special nephew, James Estepp, of Gilbert, Arizona and other numerous nieces and nephews.
Funeral Services will be conducted in Thompson Falls at the First Baptist Church Friday, May 17, 2013. Interment will follow in the Fraternal Cemetery.