Mabel Estabrooks Campbell Ray was born February 5, 1915 to Cora Helen Estabrooks Campbell Bianchi and Stanley Farrar Campbell (Stanley Robert Forrester) in Everett, MA. She spent many of her early years split between New York City and staying with her mother’s family in Sackville, NB, Canada. She lived much of her adulthood in the Boston, Massachusetts area before retiring to Easthampton, Massachusetts. In the summer of 2018, she moved to Grayson House in Springfield to be closer her to granddaughter and son-in-law, and then in the spring of 2020 moved to Heritage Hall in Agawam due to a fall, in which she broke her femur. She was married to Uno Matti Ray for 28 years. They had one daughter, Sandra Helen Ray O’Melia. Mabel worked at Jordan Marsh for nearly 30 years, mostly in the bridal department.
She never finished high school, but got her GED at the age of 86. At age 88, she graduated Holyoke Community College. She is the undefeated champion of oldest graduate from this institution. In her 90s she would often remark, ‘If I had known I was going to live this long, I would have kept going to school and gotten my Bachelors Degree.’ At age 17, she entered the Miss New York pageant, even though the official entry age was 18, on a lark of a friend of hers when they had nothing to do one night and made it all the way to the finals.
She loved to travel, often driving alone to Canada to visit relatives and friends. She had traveled across the country and to Europe; she loved Paris and The Alps. She recalled a time when the tour in the Alps was halted due to a herd of sheep being moved down from higher meadows and was blocking the road.
She loved to read. Her favorites were mysteries, Agatha Christie being her favorite author, and Miss Marple her favorite sleuth. Having read all of Dame Agatha’s books, she branched out to younger authors. She was not afraid to learn new things. She got a computer when she went to college. She even got a Facebook page to keep up with her many relations. She was driving up until age 101. She complained of having her license revoked nearly every day after. Being an independent person, having to rely on others bothered her.
She died on October 23rd, 2020 at Heritage Hall. She is survived by her two granddaughters, Kirsten M. Anthony of Springfield, MA and Deirdre E. LaRock of Colorado Springs, CO; her five great grandchildren; her son-in-law, Lawrence F. O’Melia and his second wife, Barbara Swan of Springfield, MA; and numerous nieces and nephews.
She was preceded in death by her husband Uno Matti Ray, her daughter Sandra Helen Ray O’Melia and her granddaughter Sharon Rose O’Melia.
She will be interred at the Ray family plot in Lanesville, MA with a small graveside service later in the spring of 2021.
In lieu of flowers, she has asked that a donation be made to: St. Jude’s or Shriner’s Hospitals.
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