Mabel Harrar Smith, 90, of Prospectville, the first female member of the Fraternal Order of Police in Montgomery County, died Sunday, Dec. 12, at Abington Hospice in Warminster.
In 1952, Mrs. Smith became a crossing guard in Horsham. Seven years later, the police chief asked her to join the Horsham Township Police Department to help handle paperwork.
Twice in the 1960s, Mrs. Smith tried to join the FOP but was turned down because she was assigned to clerical duty. Eventually, in 1969, the FOP allowed her to join its ranks after recognizing that her job included hands-on police work requiring her to respond when women were arrested or children were involved.
The Inquirer reported in 1970 that her entrance into the union drew no opposition from the 550 men in the Montgomery County FOP Lodge. Because she was a dispatcher, her voice was familiar to the officers. They knew she was reliable and they all voted her in, Donald S. Cassel, FOP financial secretary, said at the time.
The men respected her ability to keep her cool, Mrs. Smith told the paper. "No matter what the public does," she explained, "you must never lose control."
Mrs. Smith said she normally worked the 8 a.m.-to-4 p.m. shift and then prepared a hot meal for her husband and four children.
She grew up with seven siblings in Horsham Township, which was then a farming community. After graduating from Ambler High School, she was a secretary for an insurance agency and for Whitemarsh Memorial Park cemetery, where her father worked.
After retiring from the Horsham Police Department in 1980, Mrs. Smith was secretary to the pastor of Prospectville United Methodist Church for several years.
She enjoyed sewing and gardening.
Mrs. Smith's husband of 49 years, Edward Smith, died in 1992. She is survived by daughters Barbara Jean Card, Doris Nonnenman, and Betty Westover; a son, Edward Jr.; two brothers; 11 grandchildren; and 16 great-grandchildren.
A funeral will be at 11 a.m. Thursday, Dec. 16, at Huff & Lakjer Funeral Home, 701 Derstine Ave., Lansdale. Friends may call at 10 a.m. Burial will be in Whitemarsh Memorial Park, Prospectville.