Hazel Genevieve Underwood Smith was born 15 March, 1927, in Sheridan, Wyoming. She grew up in Gillette under the watchful eyes of her folks, Roy and Beulah (nee Scott) Underwood. Roy’s parents were early pioneers of Gillette and started the first lumberyard there in 1893 which stayed open until the 1960s. Beulah came out from Powersville, Missouri, to teach school, met Roy and was swept off her feet. They had four children: Octa, Hazel, Roma, and Harry. When four years old, Hazel walked to kindergarten, a mile up hill. After school on summer days she played with her pals and enjoyed climbing one of the neighbor’s four poplar trees.
After high school in Gillette, diplomas in physical education and psychology were earned at the University of Wyoming in Laramie. She specialized in physical therapy for polio victims and war veterans. While at school in Laramie, her friend Dorothy Bundy told Hazel about her new boyfriend, Jack Smith, and that Jack had a brother, Bill. Bill had returned to the U.Wyo. after finishing WWII duty in the Pacific, including the landing at Iwo Jima.
When Bill asked Hazel if he could marry her she replied “YES!” so quick that Bill’s response was, “I didn’t mean right now.” Marriage took place in Gillette on Sept. 9, 1949, and ran 72+ years until her passing. After Bill finished up at Laramie they moved to Evanston, IL, where Hazel worked in Chicago hospitals while Bill earned his Master’s in Physics.
Boeing was hiring a lot of people post-war and their friend Rodney Reel (from Rozet, WY) was already working for Boeing and convinced Bill to come out. Hazel went to work for Harborview hospital until the kids came along—Stephanie Findley (Jim), Craig (Cynthia Scott), and Dave. In 1966 SeaTac bought their Seattle home to make way for the second runway. Hazel and Bill wanted to raise their children in the country, not in a town. Bill Renfro, an islander they met at their Seattle church, told them about Vashon Island. Done deal.
While at Vashon, Hazel worked at Page 1 Bookstore, Top o’ the Isle Realty, Windermere Realty, was a substitute teacher and was an eager volunteer for many causes.
In time grandchildren appeared. Craig’s step-daughter Adrianne, son Bryan, and daughter Natalie. Stephanie’s kids are Christopher, Nicholas, and Abigail. A highlight of the family was when Stephanie treated all of them to a visit to Disney World. Truly grand great-grandchildren came along: Isaac, Desirae, and Aislee (parents are Christopher and his wife, also named Stephanie). These three rascals have been under close admiration via Facebook in the time of Covid.
Bill grew too tired keeping up the property and Hazel became fed up with cooking. Fifty years after building their home in Altas Madronas near Jack’s Corner, they sold out and moved in 2016 to The Kenney Home in West Seattle. They chose The Kenney as it is close to Vashon where Craig still lives and close to Dave in West Seattle. They met wonderful new friends at The Kenney, rode all over the town with their Kenney bus driver (and opera stand-out) Charlie Austin who took them to places they never knew existed.
Some of Hazel’s fondest adventures were hiking with friends, seeing Swan Lake with Dave at the Vienna Opera House, and spending most of a summer in Moscow. Quite special was a trip in the 1960s when family ventured overland by canoe and horse to the headwaters of the Columbia River.
A good life for a joyful person who put others first. Husband Bill survives.
A Memorial Service will be held at 2:30, Jan. 15th, at Bethel Evangelical Church. A meal and socializing will follow the service in the big hall next to the church.
Please visit our online guest book at www.islandfuneral.com