Mabel Mauch, 89, of Moses Lake died Saturday, Jan. 27, 2007, at Samaritan Hospital in Moses Lake. She was known to most people as Mabel Leonard.

Mabel was born March 20, 1917 in Big Piney, Mo. to Clifford and Josephine Bartlett Steward. She moved with her family to northeast Oklahoma when she was very young. She attended school there and graduated from high school as her class of 1934 salutatorian.

Mabel married a Miami Indian, Sam Leonard, at Picher, Okla. in 1935, where they remained until moving to Sunnyside in 1947.

In 1953, Sears announced they would be opening a catalog store in Sunnyside, so she decided to apply for a job. Mabel was quite surprised when the district manager called her back in to offer her the position of store manager. He told her she had achieved a very high score on the executive test. From that point on she never lived a dull moment!

Sears transferred her to Moses Lake in 1962 to manage the Sears store there.

When Sam died, the regional office in Seattle had been trying to promote her to district manager for more than two years but she refused because of her husbands’ health. Very shortly after burying her husband of 38 years, the regional director approached her once more and she accepted the promotion, making her the first and only woman in the history of Sears catalog to be promoted to the executive position of district manager. She would go to conferences and be the only woman in the group, which inspired the company to invite the wives of her male contemporaries to attend executive functions they had never been invited to before so that Mabel would not stand out as the only woman in the group. She won many promotional contests and awards over the years. She was in charge of 17 catalog stores located in Western Montana, Central Washington and Northern Idaho, thus she was constantly on the road either by car or plane. She had many hair-raising tales of the winter driving conditions in the great-northwest. Mabel retired from Sears in 1979 after 25 years of employment with the company.

After retirement, Mabel joined a group called Loners on Wheels, which is a group of retired singles who travel together in their RV’s, and she was a snowbird every winter.

She married Herbert Balliet of Moses Lake in 1979. He preceded her in death, in 1983.

After marrying Reuben Mauch in 1986, she sold her home in Moses Lake. They became full-time RV’ers for several years. Reuben also preceded her in death, in 2005.

Mabel is survived by her only daughter, Sammye Darling of Moses Lake.

There will be no services. In lieu of flowers, those wishing to honor her memory may contribute to the American Cancer Society. Kayser’s Chapel of Memories in Moses Lake is in charge of arrangements.


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