Mavis’s father was an engineer and installed engines for the mining industry and her mother was from a farming family in Victoria. Mavis had a happy childhood – she had two brothers, Eric and Jack (who built a garage in Albert Street and named it Allen’s Garage), and three sisters, Ruby, Pearl and Stella, two of whom died as babies. Mavis was the youngest. She started school at five and a half years and left at 15 years but continued being tutored in art. She became an inaugural member of the Art Society in Busselton.
Mavis married Bruce Lightly at 20 years of age in 1932 and moved to Perth when her husband joined the Air Force. After the war, they returned to Busselton where Bruce worked for the Agricultural Bank, then joined Wesfarmers and went farming. They had two children, Lyn Elizabeth (who has three children) born in 1935 and Ian Bruce (who has two children) born in 1940.
Mavis became a serious painter and a student of Margaret Johnson. She used oil and also liked drawing on paper with charcoal being interested in all subjects – landscape, still life, and portraits. Mavis had her first Art Exhibition in 1952 in the Country Women’s Association Hall and every item was sold.
Her husband died suddenly of a heart attack in 1969 at the age of 58 and she sold the house and moved to Perth.