Obituary of Hazel Ann Thomas-Bottrell
Hazel A. Thomas-Bottrell age 89 of Halifax, Nova Scotia, passed away at Hospice Halifax on November 15th of complications from kidney cancer. She was born in East Grinstead, East Sussex, England and lived in York, London, Switzerland, Michigan, Ontario, and Nova Scotia.
Hazel was predeceased by her parents Henry and Doris Wooldridge, sisters Heather and Doris, and half-sister Daphne.
She is survived by her half-sister Sandy (Rod) Hellowell of Galashiels, Scotland; adopted daughter Margaret Thomas of Timberlea, NS; stepdaughter Karen (Elle) Turlay, Bloomfield Hills; MI, stepson Jeffrey (Jackie) Bottrell, Troy, MI; grandchildren Jennifer, Brendan, and Connor; and, husband Edward Bottrell, Halifax.
After several foster homes Hazel, aged 8, and her sister Heather were placed in one of the homes in York, England run by the Church of England Children's Society. The girls were split up for a while then together at a third Children’s home in London. Hazel was a good student and graduated top of her class at Brixton Day College, London. Upon graduation she was offered a job in an insurance company’s typing pool, and at the age of 16, she was released from the Home and sent to live in a hostel for working women in Chelsea.
Hazel progressed with her administrative, shorthand and typing skills through several jobs in London then worked for the United Nations in Geneva in the early 1960’s. She developed some life-long friends there and married John Thomas, an American working for Chrysler in Switzerland. They moved back to Detroit in the late 1960’s where they adopted Margaret (Meg). Hazel and Meg were warmly welcomed by John’s sister’s family, the Pages who remained a cherished part of the rest of her life.
Hazel met and worked with her future husband Ed in 1977. After providing temp services, Hazel was soon hired to be the Office Manager and Executive Secretary of the consulting firm Lash & Co. where Ed was one of the Partners. After an acquisition, Hazel went on to be the Executive Assistant to the President of a local hi-tech firm, then moved with Meg to Toronto in 1986 to marry Ed who had joined an international consulting firm. Hazel was hired as the Executive Assistant to the Marketing VP of one of Magna’s corporate entities where she developed several life-long friends. She retired in 1993 after working in other Executive Assistant positions and running her own secretarial service.
Ed was transferred to Ottawa where Hazel established her outstanding flower, vegetable, and herb gardens at their riverside home in Manotick. Ed transferred again to Halifax to manage a program of high-tech projects and Hazel transformed their Glen Haven, St. Margaret’s Bay home into another set of spectacular gardens. They lived 21-years in their home in Mariners Anchorage overlooking French Village Harbour of St. Margaret’s Bay then downsized to a comfortable apartment in West Bedford. Ed and Hazel were active members of the Royal Nova Scotia Yacht Squadron and St. Margaret Sailing Club.
Hazel learned and practiced fine cooking, sewing and quilting skills throughout her adult life. Owner of 100+ cookbooks, mainly French Cuisine, and inspired by Julia Child, she put on restaurant quality meals for 6-10 friends several times a year. Her sewing skills ranged from simple turning up cuffs to full dresses, foul-weather suits, denim jackets and purses, and embroidery. She made many machine-made quilts and several hand-made quilts that were given to family as heirloom quilts.
Hazel thoroughly enjoyed the many sewing and quilting groups she joined and made many dear friends. Regardless of the setting or number of people she would quickly light up any room with conversation and laughter, even in a dreary hospital ward. Her ability to stay upbeat and apply her ‘British wit’ was remarkable, even in the throes of chronic pain from Shingles, COPD, Pneumonia, and Kidney Cancer. Hazel loved all animals but especially cats although all the neighbors’ dogs loved to be spoiled by her. She also enjoyed feeding a variety of birds including hummingbirds, chickadees, woodpeckers, crows, and pheasants (up to two dozen or more at a time).
She received outstanding care in several places within the Queen Elizabeth II Health Sciences Centre, and again during her stay at Hospice Halifax. Many thanks to the dozens of doctors, nurses and staff that attended to her over the years. Hospice Halifax, funded partially by government and the community, was an ideal setting for Hazel’s last two months… please consider donating to this outstanding organization.
A celebration of life service will be held at a future date.