Hazel Mary Grace Alexander, 101, passed away peacefully at home in Lake Wales on Saturday, Oct. 20,
Hazel Mary was born in Gardendale, Texas, on March 9, 1911.
Three years later, her family moved to East Glacier, Montana where her father served as the station agent for the Great Northern Railroad.
Hazel Mary attended school in Spokane, Wash., where she graduated as valedictorian at 15. The family then moved to St. Augustine, Fla., and she enrolled in Florida State College for Women in Tallahassee.
Following two years in school, one year teaching to earn enough money to finish her last year in college and her final year, she graduated from Florida State College for Women with a baccalaureate degree in English at age 19.
During her senior year, she attended the Sorbonne in Paris where she earned a certificate in teaching Spanish and French.
In 1931 she began teaching languages at the Lake Wales High School where she also served as class sponsor for numerous classes, directed class plays, supervised the publication of the school paper and Crown Jewel yearbook, and advised the Spanish Club.
In 1961 she retired to pursue other interests with her husband, Hugh B. Alexander, family and friends.
Her life was filled with countless interests including reading, square dancing, traveling and cooking. She loved music, sang in church choirs and played piano and organ. Her artistic talents became apparent in the creations she made in pouring and painting porcelain, sewing, knitting, needle pointing and quilting. Throughout her life she shared her talents by teaching others and inspiring them to pursue excellence. She had an indomitable spirit, a positive attitude and set an incredible example for all those with whom she came in contact. She loved and was devoted to her family and students, inspiring each one with the importance of learning and encouraging each one to do their best.
Hazel Mary was a member of the First Presbyterian Church of Frostproof.
Community activities included membership in the American Association of University Women for more than 50 years. In 1996 she received the AAUW Lake Wales’ Branch Foundation Award. During her AAUW presidency which was 1956-1958, she led the successful effort to build the building that still houses the Lake Wales Library.
In 2006 Hazel Mary was the first inductee into the Lake Wales High School Teachers Hall of Fame and was named Pioneer of the Year by the Lake Wales Historical Society. In 2011, she was recognized by her alma mater, FSU, with a brick naming her a Centenarian installed at Westcott Plaza.
Hazel Mary was preceded in death by Hugh, her husband of 58 years, and Robert Howard Grace, her brother.
She is survived by her sons, Jim (Nancy) of Orange City, Fla., and John (Sarah Jane) of Frostproof; seven grandchildren, Rose Banwart (Geoff), Hugh (Cathy), Roger (Anna), Sherry Osman (Medhat), JD (Cindy), Laura Grace, and Nancy Caswell (Lee); and 13 great-grandchildren, Christina, Kimberly, Malcolm, Melanie, Audrey, Spencer, Adam, Ameer, Britton, Keaton, Lee, Grace and Sarah; four nephews, Steve (Pam) Grace, John (Joan) Grace, Don (Catherine) and Ken (Peggy) Grace.
Memorial service: Friday, Oct. 26 at 10 a.m. at the First Presbyterian Church of Frostproof.
Visitation: Following the service.
In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to the First Presbyterian Church of Frostproof, P.O. Box 126, Frostproof, FL 33843, or to the Lake Wales Library, 290 Cypress Gardens Lane, Lake Wales, FL 33853.
Condolences may be sent to the family and the webcast of the service can be viewed at www.marionnelsonfuneralhome.com.