Hazel Monteith returned home on Jan. 1, 2020, beginning her new year and new life, after celebrating her 96th birthday on Nov. 1, 2019.

In recent years, after the deaths of her husband, Olin, and her sister Freda, she had been a resident of Skyland Care Center in Sylva.

Hazel was born Hazel Lola Haskett on Nov. 1, 1923, the first child of Jack and Alliefair Haskett of Balsam, N.C. As a child, Hazel suffered from scarlet fever, and was rather sickly. It was during this time that she developed the strong determination and perseverance that continued to be a major part of her character for the rest of her life.

After graduating from Cullowhee High School, she worked for many years as the bookkeeper at Belk’s in Sylva.

While attending Lovedale Baptist Church she met the love of her life, the handsome, wavy-haired soldier, Olin Monteith. The next day he turned up at Belk’s asking her on their first date. After their marriage, she and Olin lived for a short time in Durham, N.C., and later for another short time in Eureka, Calif. Most of their married life, however, was spent in Sylva, N.C., her hometown.

Later she served as an assistant with the reading specialist at Fairview Elementary. She loved working with the younger students and regarded this as her favorite job. When Olin passed away, much too soon, she invested her time even more in volunteer work, primarily with United Christian Ministries. At this time, she had already served for more than 27 years as a Gray Lady at C.J. Harris Hospital.

Hazel was a sterling example of Proverbs 31 woman, a woman of faith and service to her family, friends and community. Her passion was for ministry. Volunteering gave her purpose, and she thrived.

Hazel was preceded in death by her husband, Olin Monteith; her mother Allie and father Jack; her sister Freda Queen; and her brother, R.L. Haskett.

Hazel is survived by her children, Jerry Monteith of Cobden, Ill., and Pam Crane of Summerfield, N.C.; two grandsons, Matt and Jackson; and two sisters, Othello Crawford of Sylva and Gail Smith of Hendersonville. 

Funeral services were held at 2 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 4, 2020, at Lovedale Baptist Church.

The family received friends from 1 until 2 p.m. Saturday prior to the service at the church.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the United Christian Ministries, P.O. Box 188, Sylva, NC 28779.