BUCKEYE, Arizona — Hazel lived her life in her beloved Missoula area but passed away April 26 in Buckeye, Arizona, shortly after moving there to be with her son and daughter-in-law.
She was born in Missoula to Andrew and Hilda Hamilton, emigres from Sweden and Norway, respectively. She grew up in Philipsburg where she met her future husband, Leonard Cook. They lived in Philipsburg and a (then) mining settlement, Southern Cross. After Leonard was injured in a mining accident they moved to Potomac in 1944. The move was intended to be temporary but became their permanent home until 2011 when Hazel moved from her home of 72 years into The Village, an assisted living facility in Missoula. While living in Potomac, Leonard worked varied jobs in the timber industry and in the early years lived in lumber camps during the week. Left without a car and an infant, Hazel had no transportation and relied on the local mail carrier (aka “The Stage”) to travel to Missoula. She and Leonard eventually became custodians at the Potomac School. In Leonard’s absence during the week Hazel assumed responsibility for daily cleaning and most of the quarterly deep cleaning chores. Hazel also became an assistant cook at the Potomac School and eventually the head cook until she retired in 1996 with the distinction of being the longest serving cook in Montana with 42 years of service. She was very fond of her students and they were well fed daily during her tenure with homemade sour cream rolls and home roasted holiday turkeys. She is fondly remembered by the students even though they knew they were required to eat “at least one bite” of everything on their plates whether they liked the food or not.
Hazel is preceded in death by her three siblings, Roy Hamilton, Clarence Hamilton, and Helen (Hamilton) Schmidt. She is also preceded by Leonard and her sons, Lawrence Eugene and Loran Dean. She is survived by her son LeRoy Cook and his wife, Joy of Buckeye, Arizona. She is also survived by a daughter-in-law, Arlene Cook of Tacoma, Washington; granddaughters, Eryn Cook of Tacoma, Washington; Brianna Reimer of Grand Forks, North Dakota; Echo Ryan of Missoula; grandsons Michael Gesell of Greensboro, North Carolina and David Gesell of Bremerton, Washington; and great-grandchildren Joseph, Jacob, and Abigail Gesell.
A celebration of her life and shared memories of her family and friends will be held on July 20 at 10 a.m. in the chapel at Sunset Memorial Gardens cemetery, 7405 Mullan Rd., Missoula. Donations to the Potomac School are requested in lieu of flowers.