Hazel Jacobsen-Theel, 103Hazel Jacobsen-Theel, 103, died on Oct. 29 at the Augustana Health Center, Hastings, Minn.
Hazel Jacobsen-Theel, 103, died on Oct. 29 at the Augustana Health Center, Hastings, Minn.
Hazel Katherine Mielke was born to Julius and Helma Klug Mielke on June 1, 1909, in a log cabin on a farm in rural Becker County. The family later moved to Detroit Lakes, where she graduated from high school and then paid her own way through UND in Fargo, graduating with a B.S. in home economics. She taught in North St. Paul for 2 years prior to marrying Albert A. Jacobsen of Rolla, N.D. Hazel then accepted a teaching position on the Turtle Mountain Indian Reservation in Belcourt, N.D., and taught there until 1943. Albert enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1942, and Hazel and son, Jim, followed him first to McChord AFB in Washington and later to New Orleans, where Hazel worked as a riveter for the Higgins Aircraft Corporation. Hazel returned to teaching school in Rolla when Albert was sent to the Philippines. At the end of WWII, Albert purchased a hardware store in Hastings, where he and Hazel worked together to establish a successful business and also became involved in numerous efforts to better the community.
Hazel was especially interested in the history of Hastings and immediately began a second "career" of documenting that history and of historic building preservation. This effort was ultimately instrumental in the placement of many Hastings buildings on the National Registry, including the LeDuc Mansion, and the restoration of the courthouse to City Hall.
Albert died in 1984, and Hazel married Bruce K. Theel in 1989 and moved back to Rolla, N.D. Following Bruce's death in 1992, she remained in Rolla until 1996, when she returned to Hastings and again became active in preserving the history of Hastings and Dakota County. A plaque presented to her on her 100th birthday asserts that "her leadership led to the establishment of Historic Districts, Heritage Hall, the Hastings Historical Society, Hastings Historic Preservation Commission" and "helped make possible the preservation of the LeDuc Historic Estate." She also donated over 35 pieces of art to the Fine Arts collection in City Hall, including the outdoor sculpture, "Early Hastings," by Paris Pasch.
In addition to numerous honors from local and state historical organizations, Hazel was recognized by her alma mater in 1987 with the "Sioux Award" the highest honor given by the UND Alumni Association. She is also fondly remembered by many former Hastings schoolchildren as a mentor on school history projects and by all those fortunate enough to enjoy one of her famous meals. She was especially known for her desserts! Hazel was an avid bridge player and also enjoyed international travel, a good play at the Guthrie, reading, sewing, and good food. She was a longtime member of AAUW and Eastern Star.
Hazel entered Regina Assisted Living in 2004 and subsequently moved to Augustana Health Center for her final years. Her encyclopedic knowledge of Hastings history was evident until the end of her life.
Besides her two husbands, Hazel was predeceased by her parents and three sisters.
She is survived by her son, H. James Jacobsen (Deborah) of Rochester, and her daughter, Karen B. Jacobsen of Palatine, Ill; four grandchildren; and four great-grandchildren.
At Hazel's request, no funeral or memorial service will be held. However, a public reception in celebration of her life and her many contributions to the community will be held at the LeDuc Historic Estate from 2-4 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 24. Memorials are suggested to the Dakota County Historical Society.