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Mabel Raab was ‘an eternal do-gooder’
POULSBO — Mabel Raab, founder of the North Kitsap Bellringer Fund and dynamic Poulsbo first lady who was as active as her mayor-husband, has died.Mrs. Raab died Monday, 10 a.m., at Harrison Medical Center in Bremerton. She was 99 and had been in declining health.
Coincidentally, her death occurred on the day a final donation was made to the annual Poulsbo Lions Bellringer Fund campaign, boosting the total to $33,061 — $7,000 more than the previous year’s total. The fund is expected to meet the needs of more than 300 local residents.
Visitation will begin at 10 a.m. on Saturday at Vinland Lutheran Church, followed by the funeral service at 10:30 a.m. Interment will be at Vinland Cemetery.
The family prefers memorial donations to The Raab Foundation, P.O. Box 1244, Poulsbo, WA 98370. Donations benefit North Kitsap High School scholarships.
The former Mabel McKean was born April 25, 1912 to Charles and Marie (Lien) McKean in Stanwood. She graduated from Stanwood High School and attended the University of Washington. She married Frank A. Raab on Oct. 31, 1931 in Stanwood.
They moved from Oregon to Poulsbo in 1940, according to the book “The Spirit of Poulsbo.” Mr. Raab owned the local Standard Oil distributorship and, for a while, Bremerton Transit Lines.
The Raabs jumped right into civic affairs after moving here. Frank Raab was elected to the City Council in 1946. Fourteen years of council service were followed by nine years as mayor.
Raab Park was created in the mayor’s honor after he retired. But in 1985, he returned to the City Council after the mayor and several council members resigned amidst political turmoil. He was credited with returning stability to city government.
Mrs. Raab was as active as her husband. She raised money for the Ida Knudson Memorial Fountain in front of City Hall in 1969, bought bonds to help build the Sons of Norway’s Grieg Hall, and was a founding director of the Poulsbo Historical Society.
She was a charter member of the Poulsbo Yacht Club and was president of the Ingeborg Neville Orthopedic Auxiliary, the Poulsbo PTA and the Poulsbo Yacht Club’s Ladies Inter-Clubs.
She wrote and directed short plays to raise funds for the early Miss Poulsbo pageants and the North Kitsap PTA Exchange Student Program. She was also a town mom, keeping an eye on local children. One man told the authors of the “Spirit of Poulsbo” that Mrs. Raab and other women “took care of us. If they saw us in an area we weren’t supposed to be in, my mother would get a phone call.”
“She was a gracious lady and very hard-working for the city of Poulsbo,” said Elda Armstrong, a longtime friend who is active in the Poulsbo Host Lions Club and in the local Bellringer Fund.
“She was very community-oriented and loved everyone. I really think she had a positive attitude and always looked for the best in everyone. If there was ever a real queen of Poulsbo, she would get my vote.”
The Poulsbo Chamber of Commerce named her Woman of the Year 1976 (her husband was Man of the Year in 1964). In 1989, the chamber awarded her a lifetime membership.
She was also a member of Vinland Lutheran Church.
“They were just that kind of people,” son Charles Raab said Thursday. He’s an optometrist in Port Angeles. “They were always interested in helping disadvantaged people and in developing the town.”
He recalled his mother’s devotion to the Bellringer Fund.
“She used to do Bellringer out of her front room,” her son said. “She would go downtown and get donations from local merchants, and then would buy food stuffs for people in need in Kitsap County. It didn’t have a name — it was named Bellringer later. It just grew and grew and grew until she couldn’t handle it anymore, and then the Poulsbo Lions Club got involved.”
Mrs. Raab was active with the Bellringer Fund for 30 years.
Mabel and Frank Raab also established the Raab Foundation, which provides scholarships for high school students. Charles Raab lost track of how long that philanthropy has been active.
“Oh, gosh, I don’t know. It seems like forever,” he said.
This year, Bellringer was called the Poulsbo Lions Bellringer Fund to distinguish it from another Bellringer Fund in the county. The Poulsbo Noon Lions Club administers the fund for the Raab Foundation.
North Kitsap Fishline and others periodically turn to the fund for help providing assistance to families facing eviction, emergency assistance paying utility bills, and keeping homes supplied with heating fuel. This year, the fund provided 100 Christmas food baskets to local families.
All told, the fund assisted more than 300 families in 2011.
Charles Raab said of his mother and father, “She was an eternal do-gooder. We couldn’t have possibly asked for better parents.”
Mrs. Raab was preceded in death by her husband on Feb. 19, 1989, and her sister, Frances Barnes.
She is survived by her two sons, Charles F. Raab (Donna) and Gary D. Raab (Doris); five grandchildren, Gregory (Lisa), Jeffrey (Julia), Serena, Julie, Lynnette (Jeffry); and eight great-grandchildren, Jessica, Kristen, Brittany, Dane, Hunter, Tanner, Faith and Rachel.