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Remembering Mabs Holcomb

Remembering Mabs Holcomb



Today we remember Marjoribell (Mabs) Stakley Holcomb, who passed away exactly one year ago (Feb. 23, 2014). She was one of the early pioneers in the movement to support Deaf women’s quest to achieve independence, equality, and respect. Below is her obituary.

Mabs Holcomb

Mabs Holcomb

After 89 years and several health challenges, including two brain tumor surgeries, kidney removal, and partial paralysis for the past 28 years, Marjoriebell “Mabs” Stakley Holcomb passed away peacefully on February 23, 2014 at her home with her beloved sons and daughter-in-law, Sam, Tom, and Michele by her bedside. Her husband, Roy, preceded her by 15 years. Leaving behind are Sam’s wife, Barbara Ray, six grandchildren, Tara (and husband Chad), Amy, Leala, Mark, Cary, and Troy, and three great grandchildren, Makenna, Pax, and Thoreau.

Born on July 8, 1924 in Akron, Ohio, considered a hot spot for the deaf community at that time, Mabs was inspired by many deaf leaders there while growing up. This experience, along with her Gallaudet College days and the leadership training she received at San Fernando Valley State College, now known as California State University at Northridge, prompted her to be one of the pioneers in the liberation of deaf women. She, along with Sharon Wood, published Deaf Women: A Parade Across the Decades in 1988 with the goal of inspiring deaf women everywhere. She also was one of the early advocates for the inclusion of the deaf voice in the field of interpreting and was one of the original deaf evaluators for the RID certification process.

Mabs was a strong believer in the value of education and was an educator for 38 years before health problems forced her into an early retirement. She worked at several schools and colleges including the South Dakota School for the Deaf in Sioux Fall, the Tennessee School for the Deaf in Knoxville, the Indiana School for the Deaf in Indianapolis, James Madison Elementary School in Santa Ana, California, Golden West College in Huntington Beach, California, Deaf-Blind Regional Program based in Newark, Delaware, and Interpreter Preparation Program and Gallaudet University Regional Center at Ohlone College in Fremont, California. Her education background included a diploma from the Ohio School for the Deaf in Columbus and a Bachelor’s Degree from Gallaudet University in Washington, DC. In addition, she earned two master’s degrees, one from the University of Tennessee in Knoxville and another one from San Fernando Valley State College.

To support deaf women in need, her charity of choice is: Deaf Hope, 470 27th Street, Oakland, California, 94612

Mabs was the second in a five-generation deaf family. Her legacy continues through her children and grandchildren. In this moving and informational videoclip, created by her granddaughter, Leala Holcomb, Mabs, along with her son, granddaughter, and great grandson share their thoughts on the evolution of deaf education.

(captions are provided, click the “cc” icon on YouTube).


Leala Holcomb’s Early ASL Rhyming Play Leads to Hands Land Project

Leala Holcomb’s Early ASL Rhyming Play Leads to Hands Land Project

Tom and Leala

Tom: Just found an old home movie of me and Leala, showing us playing with ASL rhyming games when she was a toddler. This one shows two signing plays based on the English nursery rhymes “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” and “Humpty Dumpty.” But as we described in our last blog post, Leala and her partners in Hands Land have taken this idea further and developed DVDs that just focus on ASL-based rhymes and rhythms.

HERE IS LINK to watch home movie of Tom and Leala’s sign play

Their Hands Land project just got a nice write-up on Mental Floss, featuring a video of Leala’s nephew Thoreau’s  sign play.

LIKE their Hands Land Facebook page. Last chance to donate to Hands Land’s Indiegogo campaign is February 6.