Maribel Cadmus, nee Donnall, was born in Colorado in 1924. Her family moved to The Dalles, Oregon, in 1937. She attended Oregon State University but didn't graduate. Her husband, George Cadmus, studied animal husbandry at Oregon State University. After he graduated, they opened a feed store and ran a farm in Turner, Oregon, where they raised a family. In the early 1950s, they sold the farm and moved to Salem, Oregon, where George was recruited to work at First National Bank. Maribel then began working at the Oregon Legislature as a way to supplement their income. She began as secretary to the chief clerk of the Senate in 1955, and served as Oregon Senate secretary from 1957-1987.