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Life Story / Obituary
Throughout her rich and rewarding life, Hazel Timmons experienced so many of the best things that life has to offer, but what made these experiences even better was sharing them with her family and friends. A longtime resident of the community she loved, her genuine and gracious personality made her the sort of person everyone seemed to know. Deeply devoted to her family, Hazel was thrilled beyond measure to witness her family tree blossom to include numerous branches of loved ones who made her so very proud. A friend of Hazel’s was a friend for life, and her zest for life was contagious to all who were near. Dearly loved, she will be forever missed.
It was great to be an American during the decade that we commonly recall as the Roaring Twenties. Innovation was transforming the way we lived our everyday lives as technology brought us things like radios and washing machines as well as cars that were mass produced on assembly lines. Motion pictures came to life in both color and sound, and the lights of Broadway never shined brighter. Amidst this exciting time was a time of great joy in the lives of Charles and Edith (Ward) Dayton as they were eagerly awaiting the birth of their new baby as February unfolded in February of 1928 in Kalamazoo, Michigan. The big day finally arrived on February 28th when the baby girl they named Hazel drew her first breath. She was the sixth of seven children in her family as she was raised in the family home in alongside her older siblings, Starr, Letha, Earl, Elsie, and Pearl, and her younger brother, Robert. Hazel’s father was a farmer who assisted on the land of others while her mother was a homemaker. Raised in a share cropper’s lifestyle, the Daytons moved around quite a bit, primarily in Michigan. In many ways Hazel experienced a typical childhood. She attended Lincoln School in Kalamazoo and played volleyball with neighborhood kids at Prince of Peace Church.
New and exciting changes were in store for Hazel when she met the man of her dreams. His name was Henry Timmons, and they met in a rather unusual way. As the story goes, Hazel’s cat was on his fire escape one evening, and when he went to throw water at the cat Henry almost got it on her head instead! Although she was still in school, Hazel knew what her heart wanted as she knew that she loved Henry the first time she saw him. With a desire to establish a life together, Hazel left school after the 10th grade and exchanged vows with Henry at the Kalamazoo County Courthouse on January 28, 1945.
The newlyweds initially lived in Kalamazoo behind St Augustine Church. After one year, they moved to Portage where they remained for 62 years. For 12 years it was just Hazel and Henry, but they were then thrilled to welcome two children, Gary and Cheryl, into their hearts and home. To support their family Henry was a jack of all trades who worked on everything from small engines to plumbing, and for 21 years Hazel worked in the cafeteria for Portage Public Schools. Hazel’s family was first and foremost, and she lived to love and care for her husband and children. She wasn’t afraid to spoil them just a bit as it was commonplace for Hazel to make three separate meals each night as the people in her family rarely liked the same things! She did love cooking, however, and she was especially known for her roast beef. At times they had cats that were like additional members of their family, and Hazel was particularly fond of their big white cat named Toppie.
Throughout her life Hazel was a bustle of activity. She had a bubbly and outgoing personality that drew others near with ease. Hazel enjoyed spending time with her best friends, Rose, who worked with her in the cafeteria, and Sandy, who was a neighbor. Since retiring in 1981, she looked forward to going out to breakfast with eight of her friends and fellow coworkers from the cafeteria. One of these friends even lived right around the corner. The group of ladies tried a different restaurant each time, which meant that at times they went to a few “interesting” places. Hazel loved vacations including a bus trip to Tennessee about two years ago with Cheryl, and she also liked a trip to Disney World in Florida. For years she kept busy with embroidery and cross stitch as well as various puzzle books. Hazel really got into genealogy and researching her family tree. As her family can attest, she loved her niece Lynne’s baked goods. It never mattered what they were, and she was most recently overjoyed with a pineapple upside down cake that Lynne brought her. Hazel also enjoyed soap operas, especially her favorite one, The Young and the Restless.
In everything she did, Hazel Timmons thought of others first and foremost. Whether her family, her friends, or others within her community, she was always giving and selfless. Hazel was a hardworking woman, but she also took the time to enjoy life along the way. Life will never be the same without her here, but she leaves behind a timeless legacy that her loved ones will proudly carry on in her footsteps.
Hazel Timmons, age 88, of Portage, passed away on August 29, 2016 in the comfort of her own home. Hazel was born on February 28, 1928 to Charles and Edith (Ward) Dayton. Visit with her family and friends and view her life story film on Tuesday, September 6th from 10am-12pm (noon) at the Life Story Funeral Home, 5975 Lovers Lane, Portage (269-344-5600). A funeral service will be held immediately following the visitation. Hazel’s family includes her children Gary and Cheryl, and many nieces and nephews. She was preceded in death by her siblings Starr, Letha, Earl, Elsie, Pearl, and Robert. Please visit Hazel’s memory page at www.lifestorynet.com where you can read her life story, archive a memory or photo and sign her memory book online.