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Mabel Hazel Graseck 1893-1997

Mabel Hazel Graseck was born Feb. 4, 1893 in Brooklyn, the middle child and only daughter of Cora and Charles Farleigh. She died Oct. 22, 1997.

Hazel had early memories, such as the lamplighter lighting the lamps along her Brooklyn street, the excitement at the turn of the century, her father's thrill with his first phonograph, and his adoration of Teddy Roosevelt (which she relived during this year's TV documentary on T.R.!)

As a child her father would teasingly ask her to sew a button on a Sunday, but she would steadfastly refuse--you don't work on Sunday! Early in the century her family would visit relatives in Mineola (the Andrews) by train. She recalled her first ride in a Ford there and sledding on a Mineola hill.

In her teens she visited an invalid relative after school and they studied the classics together. This aunt started her library collection. During these years she also took bird watching courses in Prospect Park and developed this interest.

After high school, Hazel went to Brooklyn Normal School for teacher training. She taught in the city school system from 1913 to 1923 (resigning at marriage which was expected).

In 1923, she married Arthur V. Graseck in the Classon Avenue Presbyterian Church in Brooklyn. They had met in the Christian Endeavor Young Adult Group at this church (the church was the center of many activities in those times.) Their honeymoon was by train to Florida where they took a boat trip. Hazel never flew in a plane or drove a car.

Hazel and Arthur moved to Hollis, Queens, with her mother, who needed care till her death in 1926. They then had four children: Cora (deceased), Helen, Janet and Arthur Jr. Their firstborn, Cora, was very weak at birth and had Down's Syndrome. They gave her loving care at home until her death at age 24. In the early years Arthur worked, often till late at night, while Hazel minded the home.

A highlight of their life was planning and having built their brick colonial home in Port Washington, which was completed in June 1942. They soon joined the Port Washington Methodist Church and enjoyed the fellowship there. This remained a vital part of their new life.

Hazel and Arthur celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary with family at Caminari's in 1973. Her older brother came to live with them when he needed care. Her husband died in June 1983 just before their 60th anniversary. This was a lonely time, but Hazel maintained her home and continued her church activities. Climbing stairs up to the bedroom and down to the basement for laundry or mail kept her fit. She was very short, under 5', but solidly built. She was a wordsmith who enjoyed Scrabble and crossword puzzles, with a Webster's Dictionary nearby. Her daughter, Janet and family, lives in Port Washington and they visited often. Her son Arthur Jr. lived with her. Yet, she was mostly alone during the day and experienced some bad falls, thus needing minimal care. She moved to Locust Valley (1991) to live with her daughter, Helen (with Bob's support). Weekends she returned to her Port Washington home and church.

At 99, Hazel had a new life in Locust Valley. She read the Bible each morning, studied the newspaper, tried the crossword puzzle, played Scrabble and had special TV programs, always trying to keep up with ever-changing times. Neighbors, such as Rosabel Lu, Zu Proly, Mary Pepper and Women's Club members enjoyed visiting her. She went to the Great Books Discussion Group at the Locust Valley Library, re-reading some of the classics she had first read around 1914. Despite limited eyesight and hearing, she read most of the great books' list for five years and greatly appreciated the companionship of the group, led by Syd Farkas. She met a special Scrabble friend there, Marie Freudenberg. She also corresponded with some old acquaintances such as three sisters from a Campfire Girls group she had co-led in her 20s. These sisters always kept in touch till the very end. A student from her first third-grade class on Mulberry Street sent a yearly card.

For her 100th birthday, she had three big parties despite the usual February ice and snow. There was a celebration for family and friends at the China Wok in Glen Cove; another with the Great Books group at the Locust Valley Library, before the discussion, and one on Sunday at the Port Washington Methodist Church. Every birthday after this had snow, but she managed to get out and enjoy friendly people and a good meal. Her Great Books group celebrated four birthdays with her. Her 103rd party was a family one at Caminari's on an icy Feb. 4, 1996.

Of course, for all family events such as Thanksgiving, Christmas and other celebrations, she was an important influence and inspiration. Her six grandchildren were very attentive and visited often.

In January of this year her heart was failing badly. The efficient and caring Locust Valley ambulance crew took her to the hospital. Her pulse rate was down to 40 and she now needed constant care. She went to Sun Harbor Manor in Roslyn and received excellent care until she died peacefully Oct. 22, 1997.

A private graveside service was held at the Nassau Knolls Cemetery on Oct. 24 (which was, incidentally, her first daughter Cora's birthday), led by the New Port Washington Methodist Church minister, Rev. Edward Horne.

She is survived by three children: Helen McClure (Robert); Janet Kobe (William); and Arthur Jr.; six grandchildren, Dorothy, Paul, Elizabeth, Linda, James, and Donna; and four great-grandchildren.

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