Mavis Elisabeth Pape

Mavis  Pape


Mavis E. Pape, 100, passed away at her home on Jan. 24, 2020 in Austin, Texas.  Mavis was born April 17, 1919, in Donie, Texas, to J.R. and Nina Eskew. She was a proud native Texan who grew up in nearby Normangee. She was an athlete and cheerleader at Normangee High School (class of 1937). She attended Baylor University in Waco, later transferring to the University of Texas, Austin, where she met her future husband, Melvin E. Pape, a football player, actor and president of the Curtain Club theater organization. After graduation, they married in 1942, and both joined the military. Mavis served in the Women’s Army Corps as a Captain in the recruiting service, outranking Mel by several grades.

After the war, Mel and Mavis returned to academia at Western Reserve University, where Mel was a professor of drama. They later transferred to Indiana University, where Mavis completed her Master of Business Administration degree and became one of the earliest women to receive an advanced business degree. They returned to Austin when Mel was hired as the first professional manager of the Austin Civic Theatre, now known as the Zachary Scott Theatre. While raising her two sons, Mark and Michael, Mavis used her business skills to support the Austin theatre, leading the women’s auxiliary and fundraising to finance productions. In 1956, a devastating fire at the playhouse resulted in a multi-year closing. The Pape family moved to Miami, Florida, where Mel opened the Backroom Playhouse, a venue for old-fashioned melodramas. For more than 20 years, Mavis taught typing at Miami Edison Senior High School, helping prepare students for the business world. She was a respected mentor to her students, and many kept in touch with her long after graduation. She had a rewarding second career in adult education, teaching business at the Lindsey Hopkins center. After retiring in 1988, she and Mel returned to Austin to be near family and friends.

Mavis was predeceased by her husband Mel and her six siblings:  Doren Eskew, Austin; Jim Eskew, Medford, OR, Neal Eskew and Maribess Chappell, San Diego, CA, Zelma Browne and Billie Morris, Houston. She is survived by her sons Mark and wife, Patricia, of Copper Canyon, Texas, Michael and wife, Trish, of Lady Lake, Florida, and her granddaughter Margot Rodgers, and husband, Mike, of Ocala, Florida. She also leaves behind beloved nephews and nieces, who did much for her throughout her life. They are Sara Eskew, Jim Eskew and wife, Lynn Langley, and Noel Eskew, all of Austin; Blake Eskew and wife, Martha, of Houston, Dana Chappell and wife, Nell, of San Diego and Edwin Morris, Jr. of Indianapolis.

The family requests that in lieu of flowers contributions be made to the ZACH Theatre.