LOVELLS — Hazel Huntsman Koernke, 96, of Lovells, passed away on Sunday, April 27, 2014, after a long struggle with Alzheimer’s disease. Hazel resided at Tendercare of Leelanau for the last several years of her life, where she received kind and compassionate care.
Hazel was a beloved wife, mother, grandmother, sister, aunt, daughter and friend. She was born in Barnesville, Ohio, on Aug. 15, 1917. Her parents were the late Joseph and Esther Huntsman.
Hazel is survived by her son, Tom Koernke; daughter-in-law, Holly Solem; grandchildren, Molly and Dan Koernke; sisters, Hilda Miller, Nina Dearth and Joan Sramcik; sister-in-law, Sophie Koernke; brothers-in-law, John Phillips and Floyd Miller; stepbrother, Robert Hendershot; and numerous nieces and nephews.
Hazel was preceded in death by her husband, Fred; sisters, Irene Giesey, Mable Wyscarver and Edna Phillips; brothers, Victor Huntsman (who was killed in action in World War II) and Kennon Huntsman; and brothers-in-law, William Koernke, Otto Koernke and Eric Koernke.
Hazel led an extraordinary life. The second oldest of nine children, she graduated as the Valedictorian of her high school class. She received a scholarship to Muskingum College, however, the untimely passing of her father prompted Hazel to turn down the scholarship and take a job in Cleveland, Ohio, to help her mother support Hazel’s siblings. With her usual determination, after several years of work at other jobs, she was hired by Ohio Bell Telephone as an operator. She was eventually promoted to serve as one of Ohio Bell’s first female supervisors.
While working at Ohio Bell she met and then married Fred Koernke. Shortly thereafter Fred was drafted and served in the U.S. Army during WWII for four years. He was stationed in Europe for most of that time, and Hazel did not see her husband for nearly three years until his return from Europe in early 1946.