Hazel Kay, humanitarian, activist, teller of jokes dies at 79

May 12, 2004
Santa Paula News
By Peggy Kelly Santa Paula TimesThere were many facets to Hazel Kay, humanitarian, activist for the developmentally disabled and low-income housing, successful investor, card shark, loving mother and teller of naughty jokes, but one thing that all agree on is that Hazel, who died Thursday at 79, was all heart.Hazel, a resident of Santa Paula for 40 years, passed away on May 6, 2004 in a Ventura hospital with her daughters, Cezane Joharchi and Joanne Jordan, by her side.“Hazel had a great heart,” that embraced all causes, said her longtime friend Flo Zakrajshek, who served with Hazel for decades on the Santa Paula Housing Authority.“Mom was a remarkable woman and we will all miss her very much,” said daughter Joanne.Hazel was always fun, said Cezane, “always laughing, you never knew what to expect from her. For someone who wasn’t really impressed with babies, she was a wonderful mother and grandmother.”Hazel and her late husband Heinz Kay were devoted to the cause of the developmentally disabled after they had two children, a boy and a girl now deceased, who were afflicted.Hazel became a devoted member and leader of ARC: just one year ago, the ARC Hazel Kay-Dorothy Smead Heritage Valley Community Integration Center was dedicated in honor of Hazel and another Santa Paula woman devoted to the cause of bettering life for the developmentally disabled and their families.“. . .I’m amazed at what ARC has done,” Hazel said at the dedication.Many were amazed at what Hazel had done: She established the first special education programs for developmentally disabled in Culver City and served three terms as ARC-VC president and twice as President of the Tri-Counties ARC. Hazel was also a founding member of the ARC Foundation and held state ARC offices.Born in Muskegon, MI on September 21, 1924, Hazel received a BA and an MA in Biochemistry and English from the University of Michigan. She also served in the United States Army.Hazel headed the Santa Paula Memorial Hospital Laboratory for over 20 years after a career as a bio-chemist at the Los Angeles Veterans Hospital and as a lab technician for Aramco Oil.
For many years Hazel was an active member of Soroptimist International of Santa Paula – she was President 1982-83 - where her natural generosity made possible many programs and her lively personality added mightily to the club’s popularity.As a 12-year member of the Santa Paula Housing Authority, Hazel was devoted to providing clean, safe and affordable housing to low-income residents, and like all causes Hazel embraced, it was bettered through her deep involvement.Hazel’s hilltop home was filled with mementos of her travels and piles of books: She enjoyed reading with a cat – in the last few years, Sampson who had replaced her beloved Gorby – close at hand.“I just don’t what it is about these damn cats,” Hazel once said. “They move in with you and then move in on you. . .” forging unforgettable, although at times demanding, friendships.When it came to another love, playing cards, Hazel was hard to beat, said her longtime friend Theda Woodworth.“When she was well she loved duplicate bridge, she was good at all the games,” including board games. “The time went by fast when you were with Hazel, she was so funny. I don’t know where she got,” her quick and always right-on-target sense of humor.“Hazel was very family orientated and loved the grandchildren, was always talking about them,” added Theda.Hazel is survived by daughter Joanne and son-in-law Tom Jordan, grandchildren Tom, Heather, Matthew, Michael and great-grandson Christian; daughter Cezane and son-in-law Abdol Joharchi, grandchildren Hannah, Avery and Madelyn. Predeceased by her husband Heinz in 1992, Hazel is also survived by her beloved cat, Sampson, and an entire community of friends and admirers.A celebration of Hazel’s life will be held Friday, May 14, at 5 p.m. at Spanish Hills Country Club, Camarillo.Donations in Hazel’s memory can be made to the ARC Ventura County/Kay Memorial Fund, 5103 Walker St., Ventura, CA 93003.

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