Who was the eponymous Mary A Whalen?

PortSide NewYork's ship is named the MARY A. WHALEN, but who was she?

"Reliable was owned by Harold Tabeling of Brooklyn, N.Y. and he named the vessel after his Mother."

The short answer is Mary Agnes Whalen was Captain John Tabeling"s wife and mother to James Harold. They ran the Reliable Fuel Supply Co., the company that from 1962 to 1971 owned the ship launched in 1938 as the S.T. KIDDOO, In 1963 that ship was renamed in her honor.

Mary A, Whalen died on December 18, 1929 leaving behind 4 children: two boys, James R. and James Harold; and two girls, Ruth (Mrs. Bedell) and Agnes (Mrs. Clausen). She was buried in The Holy Cross Cemetery in Brooklyn.

Portside New York learned and confirmed this information over a stretch of time, while doing lots of other stuff. Here is bit about the process.

The heart of the origin story we got early on from Carl E. Eklof, Sr., who in an email correspondence wrote:

"Reliable was owned by Harold Tabeling of Brooklyn, N.Y. and he named the vessel after his Mother." Eklof was in a position to know as his company acquired the MARY A WHALEN from the Tabelings.

Verifying this proved confusing. Captain John Tabeling's obituary in the Brooklyn Daily Eagle, Feb. 14, 1954, had no mention of a Mary.

His survivors were listed as:

o wife Mrs Vivian Ellis Tabeling
o son James R. Tabeling of Manhattan
o son James H. Tabeling of Brooklyn
o daughter Mrs Ruth Bedell of Brooklyn
o daughter Mrs. Agnes Clausen of Huntington
o brother Captain Frederick F. Tabeling of Brooklyn & Boston

The obit went on to say that Tabeling was born in Boston, lived about 50 years in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, was President of the Reliable Fuel Supply Co. of Brooklyn and was a member of the Boston Marine Society as well as the Propeller and Rudder Clubs, His mass was held at Our Lady of Angels R.C. Church, 4th Ave and 73rd St. and he was buried at the Holy Cross Cemetery.

The Find-A-Grave website https://www.findagrave.com/cemetery/64166/holy-cross-cemetery confirmed that James H Tabeling was buried in the Holy Cross Cemetery

James H Tabeling

BIRTH unknown
DEATH 19 Apr 1980
BURIAL Holy Cross Cemetery
Brooklyn, Kings County, New York
PLOT St. Michael, System: CEM, Section: MICH, Row: 64, Plot: 327
MEMORIAL ID 174869558 ·

Looking at the same website brought up a tantalizingly close name to Mary:

May A Tabeling

BIRTH unknown
DEATH 18 Dec 1929
BURIAL Holy Cross Cemetery
Brooklyn, Kings County, New York
PLOT St. Michael, System: CEM, Section: MICH, Row: 64, Plot: 326
MEMORIAL ID 174869560

Is “May” a typo that should of read “Mary”? The fact that she was buried in the plot next to James strongly suggested some sort of connection but the exact relationship was not certain. With the new clues the search was on for an obituary of a “Tabeling” dying in 1929.

Obituary of MARY AGNES TABELINGBrooklyn Daily Eagle December 16, 1929

· Wife of Captain John J Tabeling
· Mother of Ruth D.
· Mother of Agnes M.
· Mother of John R.
· Mother of James Harold
·
Buried at Holy Cross Cemetery (Brooklyn)

All this supports that Harold Tabeling named the vessel after his Mother. That “Whalen” was the maiden name of Mary A. is still a leap of faith, and although a niggling one, it does not seem to be big.

A visit to Mary's grave site in 2019, found flowers (plastic) by the family grave, suggesting that 90 years after her passing she still maybe remembered.

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