School of Nursing alumni secretary passes away suddenly at age 67
Hazel Wood poses for a picture in her office in West Hall. Ms. Wood passed away January 14.
Hazel Marie Wood, secretary for the School of Nursing alumni association, passed away January 14, 2007. She was 67 years old.
“Hazel Wood was not only a secretary to the alumni association, but also a friend to anyone who came and chatted in her office,” says Zelne Zamora, MSN, RN, instructor of nursing, School of Nursing. Ms. Zamora has served previously as alumni association president.
“As a secretary, she made every president’s life so easy because she did all the running around, all the tedious small things that are time consuming, and was organized better than any type A personality could be.”
Hazel was born on August 2, 1939, in Lincoln, Nebraska, the oldest of four girls born to Lois and William Nickelson.
The Nickelsons were part of the founding members of the Seventh-day Adventist Church in the Nebraska region. Hazel and her siblings grew up attending church in the Denver, Colorado, area. There were many fond memories of the girls memorizing 52 weeks of Bible gems which they recited during Sabbath School under Hazel’s leadership.
According to Hazel’s sister, Rosie, the girls had to walk to Denver Adventist Junior Academy for school. These daily walks with Hazel could become longer (especially during winter) if the girls were feuding and Hazel made them walk uphill both ways in the snow, which was possible, depending on the route the oldest chose.
As teenagers, the girls enjoyed Saturday nights out at the skating rink. On
Hazel and her husband, George, pose for a picture prior to cutting their cake on their wedding day, December 22, 1957.
one such outing, the girls encountered a very dashing Frances “George” Wood.
Depending on who tells the story, either Hazel tripped George or George, trying to attract Hazel’s eye, fell in front of her during a free skate.
Hazel at first wanted nothing to do with “that older man.” But George was persistent and received an introduction to Hazel from the youngest Nickelson sister for the price of a burger, fries, and a milkshake.
George and Hazel began courting soon after and in the spring of 1956, George gathered the courage to ask Hazel to marry him. Hazel said no.
According to family members, George said, “Fine, I’ll let you think about it.” This banter went on for a few weeks, until Hazel finally said yes.
In 1957, Hazel graduated from high school, turned 18, and in December married George.
Since George was a member of the U.S. Air Force, the young couple spent the first few years moving around the country, spending time in Massachusettes, New Mexico, and Texas.
The couple added three children to their growing family prior to arriving in Abilene, Texas.
There in Texas, George studied and was baptized into the Adventist Church. It was in the small Texas church that George and Hazel started their adventures in service within the Church— Hazel, with children’s ministries, and George as a lay pastor.
In 1971, the Wood family moved to Japan, where another son joined the family.
While in Japan, the family attended church on one of the mission compounds. Hazel and George again took active rolls in their chosen ministries. During these long Sabbath adventures, Hazel helped coordinate potlucks.
In 1974, the Wood family landed in the High Desert at George Air Force Base. Hazel and George and the family started attending the Victorville Seventh-day Adventist Church.
Each family member under Hazel’s gentle direction started taking rolls within Sabbath school.
One of Hazel’s greatest joys was becoming a grandmother in the spring of 1985.
Hazel began working part-time in the Loma Linda University School of Nursing alumni association office.
Ellen D’Errico, PhD, RN, assistant professor of nursing, School of Nursing, was the alumni association president when Hazel joined as secretary.
“After some time going without a School of Nursing alumni secretary, we interviewed and hired Hazel,” says Dr. D’Errico. “I was impressed with Hazel’s long distinguished record of work experience. She was the secretary to ‘high brass’ in the military, so I knew she had to be efficient and effective.
“Hazel was all of that, but she was much more. She was a person who cared about people. If you were having a bad day, all you had to do was spend five minutes talking to Hazel, and you immediately felt better. She had a marvelous insight into people’s souls, and instinctively knew how to meet needs. She always knew the right thing to say and the best way to approach people.”
Dynnette Hart, DrPH, RN, associate dean of the undergraduate program for the School of Nursing, remembers Hazel as a living example of the University’s mission.
“Hazel truly provided ‘whole person care’ to me during the years we interacted together,” says Dr. Hart.
“In her work responsibilities, she provided guidance, support, and encouragement to me during the time I served as president of the alumni association. Her support not only accomplished the successful implementation of the alumni administrative role, but she gave of herself and her time to provide emotional encouragement, personal counsel, and a spontaneous cheerful attitude. She had a listening ear and heart, and was always willing to have you sit down in her office and talk about what was going on and what concerns we were being challenged with.
“Hazel loved her family and was proud of their accomplishments. It was always interesting sharing our ‘grandmother’ experiences.”
Hazel is survived by her husband, George Wood; daughters Lois Wheeler and Cecilia Cooley; sons Shawn and Chris Wood; and six grandchildren.
Memorial services were held in the Victorville Seventh-day Adventist Church on Saturday, February 3.
Memorial contributions may be made to the Victorville Seventh-day Adventist Church for the new kitchen facility. This was a long-time goal of Hazel’s, which she was in charge of and was looking forward to completing.
Personal note: Having worked closely with Hazel over the years, I was always struck by how much of an interest she took in my life. She would even make me lemon bars as a ‘thank you’ for helping with projects. She was a joy to work with, and a pleasure to know. – Dustin Jones
By Dustin R. Jones, MA