In Memory

Hazel O'Donnell (Wilcoxon) - Class Of 1957

Two weeks ago the world lost a beautiful & kind soul in my Aunt Hazel O’Donnell Wilcoxen. I have so much to thank her for and am sure she touched the lives and hearts of many in amazing ways. Hazel was one of the first people to show me growing up that having a mental illness doesn’t define who you are, it’s just a piece of who you are. For as long as I knew her, Hazel lived with dementia later to be diagnosed as Alzheimer’s Disease making it difficult for her to remember conversations, build new memories & remember where she was heading. As a kid this could seem scary sometimes and I would often find myself feeling awful and nervous when I would ask her questions she couldn’t remember. As time went on I learned things I could do to help her remember and worked to become someone she could feel comfortable asking for support or just some help remembering. She taught me patience, kindness, and that neurocognitive disease & mental illness are not things to be ashamed of, but can help us to be even closer to those we love by being in their support circle. I attribute a lot of where I’m at in my social work career and my interest in mental health & helping others to my aunt and her passion for life and loved ones even in the face of difficult times. #alzheimersawareness#itsoktotalkaboutmentalhealth

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12/09/18 06:01 AM #1    

Gordon Odegaard (1957)

I am sorry to hear of your passing Hazel.  I remember when our lockers were next to one another at PHS so we saw one another at least between every class.  Rest In Peace.

12/18/18 09:14 AM #2    

Diane O'Donnell (White) (1963)

Hazel was not just my sister.  She was also my hero and protector.  She will be sorely missed and never forgotten for her kindness and love.  She was devoted to her profession and her grandchildren.  

Thank you Hazel for all you did.  Rest in peace.



01/08/19 07:56 AM #3    

Janet Leekley (Eddy) (1957)

Memories of my good friend and some of our great times together:


In letters from Port Angeles, Hazel wrote about how anxious she was to return to Petersburg and I was so happy every time her family arrived. We laughed and giggled, generally driving her mother crazy in the little O’Donnell house where their clever father had built three bunks into a tiny closet while also working on his boat and the new house.

During a summer spent in Port Alexander, Hazel and I tended the store, Nancy bought fish from the trollers, and Diane sold fuel, while Jackie and Vera went back and forth to Ketchikan, selling fish and returning with fuel and groceries.

We had Ice skating, proms, basketball games, fun tormenting the more vulnerable teachers and being tormented by Henderson who didn’t hesitate to yell or throw a piece of chalk at someone. Graduation time arrived. Hazel and I headed off to Linfield College. Why Linfield? Well, we had to go somewhere, it was “expected of us” and the Linfield catalog had a lovely cover of fall leaves which intrigued us. Our parents didn’t seem to care where we went, only that we went somewhere.

We moved to different parts of Alaska, meeting again for Xmas holidays in Costa Rica. First Hazel’s Dad called, “I want to come down there too so please get me a room, not more than $10 a night”. We got him settled and my Mom called, “I want to come too, please find me a 5 star hotel room”.

Hazel translated for the first Russians coming by boat to visit ports in Alaska. She introduced me to a handsome captain and we got married—all your fault, Hazel!

Trips to Canada, Washington DC and Russia were to follow.

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