Mabel Marie Brockley, 89, of Connersville, passed away Saturday, December 24 in Richmond, IN. She was born February 1, 1927, in Fayette County, Indiana, and is the daughter of John Adam Klemme and Catharine Gettinger.
Mabel often said she was shy and backward, but she lived boldly and leaves a legacy of service within her family, friends and community, who remember her fondly as the “Can Lady.”
Mabel was married to William Cooney, a Methodist minister, for 12 years. On August 14, 1971, she married Harold R. Brockley in Columbus, Indiana, merging two large families with her patience, humor and love.
She was a member of Connersville’s First United Methodist Church, where she served in numerous offices. This past July, the congregation honored her with its Basin and Towel Award for her Christ-like service to her church and community. She also served as both a local and district officer in the United Methodist Women.
Literally wearing her patriotism, Mabel often dressed in red, white and blue, flew the American flag from her front porch daily and was an active member of the Democrat Women’s Club. In 1979, she and her husband, Harold, toured 82nd Airborne D-Day sites, increasing her passion to serve veterans. As a member of the American Legion, she was part of the Women’s Auxiliary and, as its chaplain, spent time visiting shut-in veterans.
In July 2011, the Connersville News-Examiner recognized Mabel’s philanthropy with a feature article about the “Can Lady.” She began collecting aluminum cans in the 1980s, crushing them on her back porch, selling the aluminum, and giving the money, which totaled more than $35,000, to several local charities over the years. Her family has estimated that—with support from neighbors, friends and local businesses—she recycled more than 2.56 million cans. And donated the 2.56 million tabs to Ronald McDonald’s House at Riley Hospital in Indianapolis.
Often in the spirit of service and always with the intention of spreading smiles on everyone she met, Mabel dressed up in holiday costumes, such as the Easter Bunny, Frosty the Snowman and Uncle Sam. On one Thanksgiving week, in black-and-white apparel as a Puritan pilgrim, she visited Mousie’s during business hours to pick up the restaurant’s regular donation of aluminum cans.
She also donated and collected items for numerous missions and charity organizations. During her lifetime, she donated more than 11 gallons of blood and plasma until her own health prevented it. In honor of her accomplishments and charity, she was awarded the Chamber of Commerce Service Award in 1999 and the Altrusa International Inc. of Connersville Woman of the Year Award in 2002.
Prior to moving to Connersville, she lived in Taylorsville and worked at Camp Atterbury as secretary for the camp commander. She then completed Indiana Assessing Practices School sponsored by Indiana Assessor’s Association Inc. and worked part-time at the Connersville Township Assessor office for 20 years. She worked at the Agricultural Stabilization & Conservation committee office (formerly AAA) for 5 years.
She is survived by a daughter, Joy (Mark) Yeazel, of Eaton, Ohio; two step-daughters, MaryBeth Brockley of Anderson and Kathleen Bachmann of Connersville; five sons, Michael (Aly) Cooney of Columbus, Paul (Kathy) Cooney of Coatesville, David (Margaret) Cooney of Elizabethtown, KY, Mark Cooney of Connersville, and Steve (Veronica) Cooney of Columbus; two step-sons, Michael Brockley of Muncie and Jack (Jan) Brockley of Zionsville; two sisters, Dora Leab of Metamora and Ruth Ann Gulley of Everton; 28 grandchildren; 37 great-grandchildren, and 4 great-great grandchildren.
Along with her parents and husband, she was preceded in death by a brother, Charles Klemme, and a sister, Mary Scholl, step-daughter Diane and 5 great-grandchildren.
Visitation will be at Urban-Winkler Funeral Home in Connersville from 9 to 10 a.m. services at First United Methodist Church in Connersville today, followed by burial at Everton Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests contributions to the Alzheimer’s Association of Indiana or the American Legion Post 1 in Connersville.
Mabel was a faithful follower of Jesus Christ and patriotic at the very core of her nature. She always had a smile and looked with a positive attitude to whatever was next in life. She never looked backwards. Mabel spread joy everywhere she went, and she went everywhere.
To sign the online guestbook or to send the family a personal message, please visit www.urbanwinklerfuneralhome.com.