Former F.C. Resident and Caregiver to Generations of Children Mabel Niel Dies

Leslie "Les" Niel (right) and Mabel Niel, who passed away about a year apart, were known by Falls Church residents as "Mabel & Les." (Courtesy Photo)
Leslie “Les” Niel (right) and Mabel Niel, who passed away about a year apart, were known by Falls Church residents as “Mabel & Les.” (Courtesy Photo)

Mabel Niel, 78, a longtime resident of Falls Church passed away suddenly in Shepherdstown, WV on Wednesday, Nov. 5, 2014. Born Virginia Mabel Thacker on Sept. 11, 1936 in Blackstone, Va., Mabel grew up in Charlottesville, moved to Alexandria after high school.

She met Lowell Leslie (Les) Niel of Arlington while working at the Pentagon and they married on June 7, 1956. In 1964, Les and Mabel move into what became their family home of 50 years at 703 Fulton Avenue in Falls Church City.

For several decades, Mabel provided in-home daycare for young children as well as meeting the needs of before and after school childcare. In some cases, she cared for two generations of the same family. She found great joy in maintaining close contact with many of these grown “children,” long after they left her care.

She was preceded in death by her loving husband of 57 years who passed away on Oct. 30, 2013. For over forty years, Les worked as a manager at local area hardware stores, including West Falls Hardware in Falls Church, Sterling Park Hardware and Stalcups Hardware in McLean and Vienna.

Together these loving parents passed onto their family a love of local history, road trips, picnic lunches, national parks, battlefields, mountains and beaches. The most cherished was their family vacations at the Outer Banks of North Carolina.

She was survived by her five children: daughters Debra Gregory and Kathryn Prusek; sons James, David and Michael; thirteen grandchildren and eleven great-grandchildren; sisters, Mary Lou Higgs and Joy Spencer.

In celebration of her life, there will be a graveside service held at 11 a.m. next Saturday, Nov. 22, 2014 at the National Memorial Park Cemetery, located at 7482 Lee Hwy., Falls Church.

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