Mabel Estelle Rackley Hirschbiel

by | May 2, 2014 | Obituaries

Virginia Beach —Mabel Estelle Rackley Hirschbiel, 98, left peacefully on April 17, 2014.

Mabel was born on Feb. 1, 1916 in Norfolk, Va. to William S. and Mabel Warren Rackley.

She grew up in Park Place, graduated from Maury High School in 1934 and attended Mrs. Johnson’s Business School for Young Ladies in Norfolk. Prior to marrying Paul Hirschbiel in 1940, Mabel worked as a secretary at the U.S. Federal Court in Norfolk. Mabel and Paul lived and raised their family in Norfolk until they moved to Staunton, Va. in 1969 with United Virginia Bank. Following the passing of her husband in 1991, Mabel continued to reside in Staunton, but returned to Hampton Roads in 2002 to be closer to her family. She spent the final years of her life among friends at Westminster Canterbury on the Bay in Virginia Beach.

Mabel, affectionately known as Papoose to close friends, was active in numerous civic and charitable endeavors in both Norfolk and Staunton, including the DePaul Hospital Auxiliary, the Navy League of Hampton Roads and founding member of the Council of the Shenandoah Navy League, the Florence Nightingale Circle of the King’s Daughter’s Hospital in Staunton, and Mary Baldwin College. For all of her many involvements, Mabel was named an Honorary Alumna of Mary Baldwin and received the prestigious Algernon Sydney Sullivan Award in 1991 for outstanding service to the Mary Baldwin College community.

To the end, Mabel was always impeccably dressed and coiffed, and her lively sense of humor, remarkable memory, and zest for life would light up any room and energize any conversation. Her loves included her church, flowers, dancing and UNC Basketball.

Mabel was raised Presbyterian, and she and Paul were the first couple to be married at Knox Presbyterian Church in Norfolk. Later, when they moved to Talbot Park, they joined Royster Memorial Presbyterian Church and were actively involved in all aspects of church life until they moved to Staunton. There Mabel and Paul joined and became active at First Presbyterian Church. Mabel was awarded a Life Membership in the Presbyterian Women of the Church in 1999. Upon Mabel’s return to Hampton Roads, she rejoined Royster Memorial, but was also a regular participant in Sunday morning worship at Westminster Canterbury.

Mabel loved flowers and flower arranging. Over many decades, there were few events at her churches, or Navy League, or Mary Baldwin, or charities that she and her husband supported that she did not decorate with magnificent flower arrangements. She won so many silver cups for her talented arrangements in Staunton that the August Garden Club retired a cup in her name.

Along with her parents and husband, Mabel was predeceased by her daughter Mrs. Judy Colison.

Mabel is survived by her son, Paul Hirschbiel Jr. and his wife Susan of Virginia Beach, and their two grandchildren Matthew and Anna.

A memorial service was held at Westminster Canterbury. Memorial contributions to Royster Memorial Presbyterian Church in Norfolk or to the charity on one’s choice. Condolences may be offered to the family at