Our mom, Hazel Lea Eilers, 101, of Aberdeen, SD, died at about 11:00 a.m. on Friday, April 23, 2021, at Avera Mother Joseph Manor, Aberdeen. She had done her best, all she could, and was ready to rest and be with her dear husband Albert. She was nearly 102 years old, and the last one standing of her three siblings, four half siblings and her husband’s twelve siblings.
Hazel Lea Wilson was born on June 24, 1919 to Edward Stanton and Anna Louis (Smith) Wilson, in Warner, Rondell Township, Brown County, South Dakota.
She grew up on her parent’s farm with four half-brothers, her older brother, and two younger sisters. One memory she shared was of the time her father bought 1000 chickens. Hazel had a full (somewhat reluctant) share in the care of them. She was a thoughtful child who loved to learn. She experienced the lean and difficult times of “The Dirty 30’s” which fostered in her a deeply appreciative attitude towards life.
After high school and teacher’s college, she began work as a public elementary schoolteacher. The 1940 U.S. census report lists her income for 1939 at $349. At 20 years old, Hazel’s willingness to sacrifice self for others was blossoming. She worked hard for her students of tender years.
Like all young people, Hazel took some time for enjoyment. On one of these occasions, she met Albert Eilers at a dance. They began to court, and were married on September 20, 1941 at Sacred Heart Catholic Church, Aberdeen. It was back to the farm, and now to give her all as a wife and mother. Thus began the next chapter of her life of giving. The children came along apace, beginning with Douglas, Mary Lea, Theresa, Elaine, Thomas, Marcia, Timothy, Robert, and Carol. All of these, with the exception of Timothy, survive to this day. All of these are full of awe and have good memories of Mom’s care for them.
Hazel was an award-winning baker. Her breads, noodles, pies, cakes, cookies, and candies kept the family happy. Along with household shopping, she also cared for the garden produce, canned and freezing abundant stores. Hearty breakfasts, dinners, and suppers were on the table at their appointed times. The children were allowed (taught) to help in setting things in order before and after meals.
Monday was laundry day, a full day by necessity. Darning and mending continued some evenings. The making of clothes and quilts was fit in when possible. Mom was our nurse, kissing and healing all owies, physical and emotional. She gave us loving discipline, doing her best to mold us into respectful, productive adults. She also taught us not to expect free babysitting, although Hazel enjoyed spending time playing Bunco with the grandkids.
Mother was not just a worker, but also a thinker. She enjoyed using her teaching and language skills. She liked writing letters and short stories. In her later years, she wrote and published some poems. For many years she started her day by solving the word jumble puzzle in the Aberdeen American Newspaper.
Hazel was also involved in her community. She and Dad often hosted the neighborhood “Card Club” for evenings of Whist and pleasant association. Mom and some local ladies enjoyed productive get-togethers with their “Sew and So” club. Hazel was active in the Brookside Extension Club, which raised funds to assist local organizations.
Let us not forget the smidge of indulgence. At roughly 90 years of age, Hazel bought and drove the red convertible she’d always wanted. After a short span of time her self-restraint returned, and Mom sold the car and relinquished her driving privilege. Again, she was always thinking of other people first.
We hold her as an example of the ultimate mother. Always there, always caring, not clinging. Ready to pitch in, supportive when it was right. Strong willed, with a pioneer, can-do, “I’m hangin’ in there” spirit. She expended herself for her family and neighbors.
Grateful for having shared Hazel’s life are her children: Douglas (Anita) Eilers, Mary Lea (Ken) Carlson, Theresa Eilers, Elaine (Walt) Seymour, Thomas (Peggy) Eilers, Marcia (Jeff) Sveen, Robert (Miryam) Eilers, and Carol (Bruce) Jones. Her family included 13 grandchildren, 21 great grandchildren, one great-great grandchild and counting.
Hazel was preceded in death by her husband, Albert Eilers; son, Timothy Eilers; parents; three siblings, four half siblings and her husband’s 12 siblings.
The Eilers family would like to thank the staff at Mother Joseph Manor for their conscientious care for our Mom.
A Celebration of Hazels Life is 10:30 a.m., Monday, May 17, 2021 at Schriver’s Memorial Mortuary and Crematory, Aberdeen.
Burial is at Sacred Heart Cemetery, Aberdeen.
Schriver’s Memorial Mortuary and Crematory, 414 5th Avenue NW, Aberdeen, is in charge of arrangements. Family and friends may sign the online guestbook and also view the service at www.schriversmemorial.com.
Visitation is 5:00-7:00 p.m., Sunday, at the mortuary with a liturgical wake at 7:00 p.m. Visitation continues one hour before the service at the mortuary.
To send flowers to Hazel's family, please visit our floral store.