Mavis Cain

Obituary for Mavis Cain

Sept 27, 1922 to Oct 30, 2011

Mavis Mahan Cain died surrounded by family on October 30, 2011 in San Rafael, CA.  Mavis was part of the greatest generation.  Born and raised in San Francisco to Dr. Eugene Mahan and Alma Meherin Mahan, she came of age in the Depression, matriculated from the Convent of the Sacred Heart in San Francisco, then UC Berkeley with a B.A. in Political Science in 1944.  The war years on the Cal campus created an opportunity for woman to serve in leadership positions, and Mavis never looked back.  She earned Phi Beta Kappa and served as President of Pi Beta Phi, Chairwoman of the Judicial Committee, and member of the War Board, Mortar Board, Ace of Clubs, and Pan-Hellenic. After graduation, she had a brief career with IBM.

Mavis married John “Ace” Cain in 1952 and moved to La Canada in 1954 where she lived for over fifty years, raised seven children, and was an active parishioner of St. Bede Roman Catholic Church.  She taught Sunday school, led the local Girl Scout troop for over a decade, and eventually found her calling as an advocate for peace and justice.  Starting in 1975, Mavis helped families of political refugees from Vietnam, and later from Poland, settle in the United States.  She frequently volunteered at the Catholic Worker Soup Kitchen on Skid Row and encouraged many others to do the same.

Mavis and Ace co-founded the Justice and Peace ministry at St. Bede Church and San Gabriel Valley Habitat for Humanity in the late nineteen eighties. The Justice and Peace ministry affords parishioners an opportunity to serve those in need and reflect upon the root causes of injustice and conflict in our world.  San Gabriel Valley Habitat for Humanity built the first habitat houses in Los Angeles County and has now constructed 54 homes.  Mavis served on the Board of Los Ninos, an organization dedicated to building community on the U.S. Mexico Border, and for many years raised money by walking from Santa Barbara to Tijuana in the annual walkathon.  Mavis also served the developmentally disabled and supported L’arche Wavecrest, a home for disabled adults in Orange County where her youngest daughter Theresa now lives.  

Mavis shared a love of nature with her children who fondly remember adventures to all corners of California in the family station wagon. On their honeymoon, Mavis and Ace climbed and skied down Mammoth Mountain where they later taught their children to ski.  Despite her busy life, Mavis found time to enjoy the beauty of nature with her family on hikes, or in her La Canada garden, where she favored native plants to honor God’s creation and nurture it for her grandchildren.

Mavis was never shy about expressing her political views and encouraged others to speak out against injustice or waste. She would want you to know that she opposed nuclear weapons and the United States military involvement in Central America.  For two decades, she regularly participated in civil disobedience at weapons manufacturers in Southern California, the Nevada Desert Nuclear Weapons Test Site, and the School of the Americas, where the United States has trained oppressive military regimes.

Mavis lived the last five years of her life in San Rafael close to her adult children.  In her last years, she suffered from dementia, but she never forgot her family and friends.  Despite the frustration of memory loss, Mavis was always grateful for the kindness of others and always eager to lend a hand to those in need.

Mavis was preceded in death by her husband John R. Cain and sister Eleanor Mahan Tobin. She is survived by sister Jeanie Mahan Barry (San Rafael, CA); seven children: Elizabeth Baybak (La Canada, CA), Martha Cain (Berkeley, CA), Gene Cain (Meadow Vista, CA), Mary Pavillard-Cain and Cathleen Cain (Switzerland), John Cain (Kensington, CA) and Theresa Cain (Orange, CA); and thirteen grandchildren: Nicholas, Maxim, Lucius and Julian Baybak; Rio Barrere-Cain; Patrick, Austin and Laurel Bollinger; Madeleine and Francesca Pavillard-Cain; and Emily, Erin and Abigail Cain.

A funeral mass will be held at 9:00 AM on December 17th at St. Bede Church in La Canada, with a reception noon at the Baybak home. 

In honor of Mavis' dedication to charitable causes, her children are offering a matching gift for donations to the California Community Foundation to support charities such as the Catholic Worker, Los Ninos, Habitat for Humanity, Projecto Pastoral, Homeboy Industries and L'Arche Wavecrest. Make checks payable to the California Community Foundation and reference the "Matthew 25 Fund" in the memo line.

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