LANSING - On July 11, 2012, Hazel Amelia Paulic Trebilcock told her niece and companion that she was not going to be an old lady anymore. On July 12, 2012, she carried out her plan.
Hazel was born on the July 21, 1911, the first of six children of immigrant Slovenian parents, the only ones in their respective families to come to the United States. A teacher from the beginning, she helped her parents learn English as she learned it at the one room schoolhouse in Ralph.
The family had a small farm and she and her sisters and brothers were valuable helpers as soon as they could be. Hazel remembered going under the mules to buckle their harnesses with her sister, Kristina when they were small enough to almost stand beneath them.
When Hazel graduated from eighth grade at age 12, she became an au pair for a family in Escanaba in order to continue to go to school. She graduated before 16 and by 18, also by working as an au pair, graduated with a lifetime teaching certificate from Northern Normal College in Marquette. She then began a career that she would follow with dedication until her retirement in her 60s.
Her first seven teaching years were spent at Ironwood. She enjoyed her work and she met the sister of a certain Fred Trebilcock, whom she would marry in 1936 and spend 51 happy years as his wife and friend. They moved to Lansing in the heyday of car production where Fred was a tool and die maker and Hazel began as a permanent sub (married) for a woman who lost her job as a teacher to be married!
At this time the school system decided to change its policy of employing only unmarried women and Hazel told her niece that she was the first permanent married teacher in the Lansing Public School system!
Although she never had any children of her own, Hazel enjoyed children and was a cherished teacher in return. A memory that remained with her to the end was putting on her reddest lipstick on a child's birthday and planting a smack on the cheek! A project that went beyond her teaching years was to have her fifth grade class write to famous authors, such as Laura Ingalls Wilder, to ask about their lives.
Amazingly they wrote back, by hand or typed. These letters are now archived at the Lansing Public Library for all to enjoy. Hazel spent the end of her career as principal of Bingham School. She told her niece that she would send unruly children to the nurse's room to lie down, as punishment, for "15 minutes," where they promptly fell asleep and after an hour's nap returned to their class much improved.
Hazel had many interests throughout life, including golf with Fred, going with Fred to the U.P. to see Ma and Pa, bridge and her bridge friends, needlepoint, St. Paul's Episcopal Church across from the Capitol and the B&P Women's guild, Sparrow Gift Shop, the cabin at Duck Lake, the U Club, and her extended circle of family, friends, and former students who remembered and cared about her, and with whom she always kept in touch through family letters and epic phone conversations.
Her niece remembers lunch at the U Club where a whole table of Granger brothers got up and stood in a line to give Mrs. Trebilcock a hug! After Fred passed away, Hazel, at 76, became a world traveler and made it to every continent except Australia before age slowed her down. She loved a good family reunion, especially for her birthday (!), and threw parties for her 80th, 90th, 96th and 100th years.
What would have been her 101st birthday party has become a memorial service for her family and a few close friends to gather and remember a life lived well. After her memory began to fail, the people that staffed Bircham Hills in East Lansing, and later Tendercare of Leelanau in Suttons Bay, enjoyed her and treated her with the respect and kindness that she showed to others even at the end. Her niece, Delorus will treasure the experience of being her advocate and friend for the final eight years of her life and will miss Hazel more than she knows right now. Many nieces and nephews and their children will carry Hazel in their hearts and remember her always.
If you would like to remember Hazel, please give generously to a local charity of your choice and help your community, as she did.