Born February 5, 1913, in Mayfield, Utah, our beautiful rose of a mother, Hazel Nelson Christensen, was the third child and second daughter of nine children belonging to Abinadi and Stena Awilda Willardson Nelson. Hazel's early years were spent in Mayfield, Cleveland and Gunnison, Utah, where she attended the local elementary schools. In 1928, Flora Nelson, her beloved 19 year old sister was tragically murdered, which left a life long lasting effect in Hazel's life. Four years later, her father died and she assumed the responsibility of assisting her mother in raising the family in the midst of the Great Depression Years.
Hazel was very proud of her five brothers who served their country in World War II. She began working at the early age of 13 for Mrs. Almondinger at the Christenson Hotel on the corner of First South and Main Street in Gunnison, and then for Aymer and Elva Peterson, proprietors of the Wisteria Cafe. Later she was employed by the Wilson Hotel in Salina, Utah. It was during this time that she met her future husband, Peter Loyal Christensen. They were married February 6, 1939 in Las Vegas, Nevada.Together Hazel and Loyal started Hazel's Cafe in Gunnison. Later they established Loyal's Place, which became a popular billiards parlor during World War II. The raising of their three children was part of her business life. She always knew where her children were, and they knew where she was. She took the time to meet their needs and was a good mother.
In 1950 plans were made and they opened the Lila Lee Apparel in Gunnison. The following years, Hazel was active in civic affairs and had a great love for gardening and flowers. She assumed a major role in the development of the Gunnison City Park and was a Charter Member of the Gunnison Garden Club. She also spearheaded the planting of the beautiful Flowering Crab trees, that line both sides of the street where she lived. The Salt Lake Tribune acknowledged her flower gardens with a major feature article in the newspaper and numerous awards, including sweepstakes winner at the first annual award show. In Hazel's later years, she was placed on perpetual status with the Utah State Beautification.
Travel took Hazel to many scenic places in the United States and the world. Some of these places included the Hawaiian Islands, Mexico, Egypt, England, Germany, Austria, Greece and Switzerland. She was privileged to travel with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir on the European Tour, which included London, Paris, Munich and Oberamergau. Hazel's other hobbies included cooking, baking, candy making, fishing and camping with her husband, family and friends. She was a cancer survivor of over 30 years and was a quiet inspiration, giving hope and encouragement to others.
In 1997, Hazel received a lifetime Business Achievement Award from the Gunnison Business Association for 70 years of business on Gunnison's Main Street, thus portraying Hazel, the Matriarch of the Gunnison Business District. Hazel was a lifelong member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Survivors include the following: brothers, Lucian (Ada) Nelson, Salt Lake City; Morris (Norma) Nelson, St. George; Reed (June) Nelson, Tempe, AZ; sister, Barbara Ann (Jay A.) Anderson, Salt Lake City; children, LeGrande Loyal Christensen, Salt Lake City; Lila Lee Christensen, Gunnison; Joe L. (Beth) Christensen, Gunnison; stepdaughter, Cleda Dee Thrasher, Victorville, CA; grandchildren, Julie Ann (Andrew) Howell, Salt Lake City; Stacy Allison Christensen, Laramie, WY; Joseph Rudi Christensen and McKay C. Christensen, both of Gunnison; great-grandchildren, Taylor, Caitlin and Tanner Howell, all of Salt Lake City. She was preceded in death by her parents; husband, Peter Loyal Christensen, who passed away January 26, 1981; sisters, Flora Nelson and Shirley (Neil) Myrup; brothers, Merrill and Glen Nelson; grandson, Ron Christensen.
Hazel died January 15, 1998, as a resident of the Mayfield Community Care Center in Mayfield, Utah, where she was tenderly cared for and loved by that extended family, the Angels of Mercy.
Services will be held at the Gunnison LDS Stake Center, Tuesday, January 20, 1998, at 1 p.m. where respects may be paid Monday evening from 6 to 8 p.m. and Tuesday morning from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. prior to services. Burial will be in the Gunnison City Cemetery under the direction of the Springer Turner Funeral Home of Richfield and Salina, Utah.
"God Be With You 'Til We Meet Again"
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