HELENA — Hazel June Harley, 85, passed away Dec. 16, 2017 at St. Peter’s Hospital in Helena. She was born Aug. 18, 1932 in Gold Hill Oregon, to Scott A. Wheatley and Veva L. (Porter) Wheatley.

Hazel grew up in various towns in Oregon and California graduating from San Bernardino High School in 1950. After high school she moved to Salem Oregon where she married Gerald L. Thurman. Together they had six children: Dana Letsom (Ron) Creswell Oregon, Debra Burford (Rodney) Oak Hill, West Virginia, Darcy Gould (Tim) Whitefish, Denise Patterson (Paul) Helena, Dean Thurman (Marilou) Salem, Oregon, and Denette Oellermann (Dean) Billings.

After divorcing, Hazel moved to Montana and married Jack V. Harley in 1971. They were involved in the logging industry for several years living in Garrison, Philipsburg, and the Frenchtown area where they enjoyed investigating ghost towns, exploring mining ruins, digging for gems, visiting museums, and learning about local history. They later moved to Missoula, and eventually settled in Helena.

Hazel worked for the U.S. Forest Service for many years and retired in 1998. Her years at the Nine Mile Ranger Station and Fort Missoula held especially fond memories.

Hazel was an avid reader and a life-long learner. She voiced strong opinions, sharing them freely as needed with newspapers, school board members, and congressmen. She possessed an unceasingly positive attitude and a sarcastic/witty sense of humor that stayed with her even through the last difficult years, often endearing her to those around her. She was a faithful wife, mother, and friend. She spent her retirement years focused on others less fortunate than herself, volunteering at schools, at the library, and the hospital. She was an active member of a head injury support group, the historical society, and a genealogy organization where she conducted research and gathered the family’s history.

Hazels’ humble spirit was evidenced by her frequent response of “I just run the elevator and sweep out”. Though she will be missed greatly by all who loved her, we are thankful the elevator she ran, is now reaching up to heaven.

She is preceded in death by her parents, her husband Jack, three children Dana, Dean, and Denette, son-in-law Rodney, grandchildren Tracy and Kevin, and her sister Ruth Magsulit.

She is survived by her children Debra, Darcy and Denise, her sister Ruby Wheatley, and numerous grandchildren, great grandchildren, nieces, and nephews.

Private services and burial will be held at Sunset Memorial Gardens, Missoula Montana at a future date. Please visit retzfuneralhome.com to offer a condolence to the family or to share a memory of Hazel. 

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