Traverse City Record-Eagle

October 1, 2012

Northern Notes: Family walks bridge in Hazel’s honor


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---- — Hazel Dickson, a lifelong Alden resident, participated in the Labor Day Mackinac Bridge for the first time in 1985 at the age of 73. She then proceeded to walk the bridge for 20 consecutive years, before a stroke at age 93 sidelined her. During those years of bridge walking, Hazel commented that she wanted to walk the bridge when she was 100 years old.

Hazel celebrated her 100th birthday on June 1, 2012, but is in a nursing home at Kalkaska Memorial Medical Center. Her health is so fragile that she is unable to even be wheeled across the bridge. So on Labor Day 2012, 50 of Hazel's relatives and friends donned "Hazel 100" red T-shirts and walked the Mackinac Bridge in her honor. Three of her children, Wava Donkers, Clarence "Smitty" Smith and Harry Dickson, were joined by one of Hazel's sisters, Viola Merkle, age 80, more than 10 nieces and nephews, and 15 grandchildren (great-grandchildren and great-great grandchildren included). Clyde "Hezzie" Packer, age 90, was the oldest family member to walk the entire distance without assistance from a wheelchair. Three-month-old Ellie Packer was the youngest family member to cross the bridge.

Hazel will receive a group photo and a pillow made from one of the T-shirts as keepsakes from this event.

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Albert "Al" Ockert, president of Northwest Michigan Chapter 38 of the Korean War Veterans, wrote to thank the people of the Grand Traverse area for their generosity during the chapter's annual fundraiser.

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Kathryn Holl, grief support services manager with Hospice of Michigan, and the team at Hospice of Michigan wish to thank the community supporters of the third annual "Memories on the Manitou" sail.

On Sept. 12, the ship departed on a beautiful evening cruise with 55 passengers, ages 6 to 94, who came together to honor their loved ones with a memorial service aboard the ship, as well as to "take a breath of air" from their deep grief.

"We thank Traverse Tall Ships LLC, Comfort Keepers, Life Story Funeral Home, Mortensen Funeral Homes, Dockside Party Store, Newton Photography and the Blue Goat," Kathryn wrote.

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John Sawyer, a member of Robert Finch Camp #14 of the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War, was featured in a Sept. 9 Northern Living story about his project to clean up and restore the overgrown Fouch Road Cemetery in Leelanau County.

John wrote on behalf of himself and Chris Slaven-Brott, who has family members interred in the cemetery, to thank Jack Deering, owner of Deering's Tree Service, Maple City; Ron Popp, owner of Popp's Excavating, Traverse City; and Terry Walters, owner of Ace Welding, Traverse City, for providing their help at no cost.

"They provided their professional services cheerfully and without hesitation," John wrote.