MABEL (SINE) WADSWORTH

Posted Sept. 25, 2008, at 11:14 p.m.

BANGOR – Mabel Antoinette Sine Wadsworth, 95, died at home with dignity, Wednesday, Jan. 11, 2006. She was born Oct. 14, 1910, in Rochester, N.Y., the daughter of David Albert and Effie Maude (Harrison) Sine. Mabel graduated from Spencerport, (N.Y.) High School and received her nursing diploma from the University of Rochester School of Nursing in 1931. While in training, Mabel heard of Margaret Sanger’s pioneer work in birth control and developed her own interest in helping women gain control over their reproductive lives. In 1946, Mabel moved to Bangor and joined the Maternal Health League, a volunteer organization patterned after Sanger’s work promoting contraceptive education. Mabel’s community involvement in other volunteer organizations included the League of Women Voter’s and the Eastern Maine General Hospital Auxiliary. She helped form the Abnaki Council of Girl Scouts, was instrumental in starting the first NAACP chapter in Maine, served as the first president of the Bangor Counseling Center’s board of directors and continued to serve for many years on its committees. She was active in the development of the Women’s Resource Center, out of which evolved the Displaced Homemakers Organization. In the 1960′s, Mabel organized and became the director of the first Family Planning Program in Maine that offered birth control services. Mabel further extended her philosophy of education and choice when hiring the women who became outreach workers and family planning counselors. With the belief that life experience is qualification enough to teach other women about their sexuality and about birth control options, she hired women whose experiences often reflected the lives of the women they served. Some of them still work for Family Planning – all of them say that Mabel enriched their lives. In the 70′s, she helped establish the Maine Family Planning Association and was its first president. She continued to serve on the board of directors and was an active member for many years. In 1984, Mabel generously lent her name and support to Mabel Wadsworth Women’s Health Center and became a founding mother of the private, non-profit, feminist health center located in Bangor. Inspired by Mabel’s belief in women’s empowerment through knowledge and advocacy, Mabel Wadsworth Women’s Health Center works to carry out Mabel’s vision of reproductive choice and control for all women. Mabel and her achievements were recognized in the late 1980′s when she was presented with the Mary Ann Hartman Award by the University of Maine. In 1989, Mabel was one of the first inductees into the Maine Women’s Hall of Fame. Mabel also served on the board of directors of Legal Services for the Elderly and raised funds for the Bangor Symphony, Spruce Run and United Way, and served in an advisory capacity for the Eastern Area Agency on Aging. In May of 1993, in one of her proudest moments, Mabel received an honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters from the University of Maine. She continued to be active in the life of Mabel Wadsworth Women’s Health Center, acting as standard-bearer and mentor and serving on the steering committee of its Communities United for Reproductive Safety Project. Mabel fostered intergenerational relationships, both in her own personal life and in the organizations she supported. She understood the importance of “passing the torch” to younger women and stressed that leadership development is paramount to continuing her work on behalf of women everywhere. Her independence, her outspokenness and opinions about the state of the world, her constant search for new knowledge and her stubbornness made her a wonderful role model. Mabel’s contributions to the people of Maine were extensive. Her positive impact is widespread and lasting. Because of her work and convictions, the lives of thousands of Maine women have been changed for the better and her own life was an inspiration to other women who seek to change the world. Mabel was predeceased in 1980 by her husband, Richard C. Wadsworth M.D.; her brothers, Harrison and Willard Sine; and by her sister, Betty Guyer. She is survived by her sisters, Dorthea Harris and Edna Stockton; daughters, Rachel and her husband, Gregory Pooler, of Bangor, Janet and her husband, Andrew Pease, of Brooklin and Martha and her friend, Bill Heaney, of Hiram; grandchildren are Jane Irish and Richard Pooler of Bangor, Jennifer Pooler of Eddington, Rebecca Pease of Sedgwick, Kathryn Wood of Blue Hill; great-grandchildren are Gregory and Amanda Irish of Georgia and Emily Wadsworth Wood of Blue Hill. She is also survived by many nieces, nephews, great-grand and great-great-grand nieces and nephews. She will be deeply missed by her many friends, especially Sharon E. Barker and Ruth L. Lockhart. The family is thankful to Paula and “her gang” for their extraordinary support and to New Hope Hospice. A celebration of her life will be held 2 p.m. Friday, Jan. 13, at Brookings-Smith, 133 Center St., Bangor, followed by conversation and refreshments at the Brookings-Smith Family Center, 163 Center St. Those who wish to remember Mabel in a special way may make gifts in her memory to Mabel Wadsworth Women’s Health Center, P.O. Box 918, Bangor, ME 04402 or to New Hope Hospice, P.O. Box 757, Holden, ME 04429.

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