We gather this afternoon to celebrate the life and the faith of Hazel Hunerdosse. As we do so we seek to reaffirm our faith today. We remind ourselves of the sure hope we have of life beyond the grave.
The Bible tells us that
For we know that if the tent that is our earthly home is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. 2 For in this tent we groan, longing to put on our heavenly dwelling, (2 Cor 5:1)
Jesus told Martha,
“I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, 26 and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. (John 11:25-26)
Hazel Hunerdosse believed these words, she lived these words and she was motivated and strengthened by these words. Today we remember a woman who followed Christ. Because of this, though we mourn for ourselves, we rejoice for her. We know that she lives, even though she has died. In fact, we can say with great confidence that Hazel is now where she always wanted to be: with her Lord and Savior.
Let’s pray together,
Lord, we bow before you as the One who has made it possible for us to live beyond the grave. Help us to focus on the truth of the Resurrection of Jesus and the trustworthiness of your promise. Temper our sadness and loss with the joyful hope that is ours because of Christ.
Help us to remember fondly the gift you have given to us in Hazel. You made her to be a unique, wonderful, and caring woman. Thank you for the way we were blessed through her.
Help us also to strengthen our grasp on the truth of your Word. Renew our hope and our confidence in You. We ask this in the name of our Savior, Jesus. Amen
Hazel Maude Reed Hunerdosse, was born November 26, 1928 in the Little York, IL area on a farm, the daughter of James W. and Vera M. Jones Reed. She was raised and educated in Little York. After graduating high school she attended Carthage College.
Hazel was a telephone operator in the days when you had to talk to the operator and tell her to whom you wished to speak. If I have the story right, she was a telephone operator when she and a friend decided to go roller skating at the same time and place that a young man named Art Hunderdosse had decided to skate with some friends. Art took notice of the girls and promptly asked out Hazel’s friend (and don’t think she ever let him forget that fact!) The friend was already going with the guy so I guess Art then asked out Hazel. Love was born.
Hazel also worked at IRC (International Resistance Company) where she worked on the production line. Then she became busy with children: John, Ken, Donald, Daniel, Sandra and Lynn. While Art was busy working on the house, Hazel was busy cooking and caring for the kids.
After the kids were grown and married Art and Hazel took off for Arizona with a few hundred dollars in their pockets. They didn’t know what they were going to do but they were confident that God had a job for them. They became house parents for 15 years at Rainbow Acres Ranch for the mentally handicapped in Camp Verde, AZ. They worked full time for 7 ½ years and then worked part time. During this time they welcomed 4-6 young men to live with them. At that time mentally challenged people were out on their own at 18. Rainbow Acre Ranch existed to help these young men.
The Hunerdosse’s had a real ministry at Rainbow Acres and impacted the lives of many young men. After they retired they moved to La Harpe and their current home. They have been actively involved in the Union Church.
Hazel died in her home (some would say on ‘her terms’) on September 30th.
Mrs. Hunerdosse is survived by her husband, Art, four sons, John (Carol) Hunerdosse of West Burlington, IA, Ken (Linda) Hunerdosse of LaHarpe, Donald Hunerdosse of Des Moines, IA and Daniel Hunerdosse of Santa Rosa, CA, two daughters, Sandra Rogers of Burlington, IA and Lynn Hunerdosse and (Rick Abernathy) of West Burlington, IA, 16 grandchildren and 13 great-grandchildren.
She was preceded in death by a great-grandson, Hunter O’Donnell.
At this time we are going to open the floor so you can share some of your special memories and anecdotes about Hazel. We have a few people planning to speak and others are welcome. We are sensitive to time. Please use the microphone in the front so we can hear you on the video which will be made available to family members not able to join us.
Hazel Hunerdosse was a “spunky” woman. We all knew her as someone who was always giving you a hard time or playing a joke on you. She scared most of her Doctors these last years by saying “Boo” just as they came real close.
However, she was not a confrontational woman. She would say her piece and then let you make your own decision. She was a person who took life as it came her way. Things may not have always gone the way she would have liked but she didn’t spend time whining about what “could have been”, instead she dealt with the present.
It might have been difficult when Art and Hazel moved in with Ken and Linda for a year while they waited for their house to sell in Arizona but it wasn’t. Hazel did not feel the need to take over, but was always willing to help. I am sure the kids look back at that time as a very special opportunity to get to know their grandparents.
Hazel was a loving mom and Grandma. I’m not sure about her kids but every grandchild was expected to give her a hug. And even in the most devastating, embarrassing, and painful times you could be sure that Hazel was ready with a hug for you.
Hazel was a good cook. She was known for her Zuccinni and Bannana breads at Christmas. Ryan remember Hazel’s waffles. No one seems to know her secret recipe but they were special and delicious.
Hazel was filled with grace. She had a big heart. She enjoyed sewing, arts, crafts, and kids. Hazel made a quilt for all the grandchildren when they got married. It was and always will be a treasured possession.
Hazel was one of the most avid fans of figure skating you may ever meet!
Hazel always had time for the kids. Whether it was teaching Crystal about canning and gardening, shelling peas with the grandchildren, or watching Darkwing Duck with Ryan after school, Hazel was available and eager to spend time with the grandkids. Hazel helped as a listener at Awana for many years. She had a way of making all the kids feel comfortable and loved.
When she and Art felt this church could do a better job of visiting shut-ins they didn’t complain . . . they offered to fill that need by visiting people themselves. When we needed someone to lead the mailing crew for the monthly newsletter, Hazel stepped up to help.
Apparently, Hazel had trouble remembering Marcia Stiller’s name when they first started the newsletter mailing, so she just said, hand this down there to “What’s-her-name”. Soon that became Marcia’s name.
It was always fun to listen to the banter between our office manager, Dave, and Hazel when it was newsletter time. You would think they didn’t care for each other at all to listen to them talk to each other, but it was a relationship of respect and friendship.
Hazel was regular in her worship. She enjoyed singing the old hymns. Hazel and Art also enjoyed listening to lots of Bible teachers on the Internet. She was sharp and always looking for a way to give me a hard time about something.
I think we all could testify that we have never met anyone who stuck her tongue out more than Hazel!
These last years Hazel was convinced that cancer treatments do more harm than good. When she developed a growth on her neck she decided against surgery. It was too expensive, it was going to be very painful, and besides, she belonged to the Lord of the Universe! If He wanted to heal her, he would do just that.
Hazel drew strength from Isaiah 40:31,32
They who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength;
They shall mount up with wings like eagles;
They shall run and not be weary;
They shall walk and not faint.
Hazel was not afraid to die. She didn’t care if people looked at her or asked her questions. Hazel rested in God’s plan.
When it appeared that she was going to die from this cancer Hazel focused on the glory that was ahead and not the things she would leave behind. Hazel taught us lots of things in her life but probably the greatest lesson she taught was how to face death with faith, anticipation and even joy.
Hazel leaves a wonderful legacy. May God help us to pay close attention and learn these lessons well.
I thought about what verse in the Bible would be an appropriate verse to focus on as a testimony to Hazel’s life. It seemed clear that it should be Philippians 1:21 where Paul wrote, “For me, to live is Christ; to die, is gain.” It seems like a verse that fits Hazel’s heart.
In life we have a choice: we can live for ourselves or we can live for something or someone greater than ourselves.
I’m sure you know the story of the Apostle Paul. He used to fervently oppose the Christian faith. He felt Christians were heretics. In fact, he helped put Christians in jail and to death. All He could see was what he wanted to believe.
Then God got hold of Paul in a dramatic fashion. He blinded him and then told him that he was on the wrong course. When Paul got his eyesight back he went back to the Bible that he thought he knew so well. Now he saw what he had never seen before. He realized that Jesus was the one who alone could set us free from not only from our sin, but also the futility of our lives.
As Paul examined the evidence for himself He realized that Jesus was different from other people. He served God all the time. He did miracles that were unprecedented. He died without putting up a fight. He prayed for those who killed him. And if that wasn’t impressive enough . . . He came back from the dead!
Paul had heard these claims before. The difference was that now He saw these facts with unclouded eyes. Paul was a smart man (some suggest a man who had the equivalent of several PhD’s). He articulated the faith well. This of course, made him a target of those who still did not see clearly.
Paul was arrested several times. As he wrote Philippians he was in jail and knew he could die at any moment for his beliefs. In the first chapter of Philippians he debated which would be better: to keep sharing the gospel around the world or to finally be done and be able to stand before Jesus face to face. Paul answered the same way Hazel did: it is better by far to be with Christ.
This is when Paul summed up his attitude this way: If he was going to live, He was going to invest every waking moment to tell other people about the Jesus who came to rescue broken people just like him. He was going to urge people to stop being religious and start being a follower. He was going to proclaim truth no matter what people threatened to do to him. He knew where he was going and death did not scare him.
And if this was the end of Paul’s journey (it was not), then he, like Hazel, would finally get to be where he yearned to be: with the Savior who loved him more than he could fathom.
Hazel Hunerdosse likewise spent her life trying to tell people that life is not meaningless; it matters. She understood that Atheism and other faiths do not have any evidence to stand on. She wanted people to know that God created us and sent His Son to deliver us from the stupid choices and sinful mistakes we all have made. Hazel was able to show grace to people because she knew she had experienced grace in her own life.
If you truly loved Hazel then you understand that more than anything else she would encourage you to take a moment today and ask yourself, “What am I living for?” Do you believe life is meaningless, or do you understand that there is a God who loves you? Do you see that God sent Jesus to rescue you and calls you to embrace this Savior and let Him change your heart and your life forever?
Nothing would make Hazel dance with joy more than knowing that the people she loved most will also be with her in Heaven and experience the love of God.
If you haven’t done so, you can start this relationship with a prayer like this: “Lord, I’ve made a mess of things. All I have are broken pieces of my life to offer you, but that is exactly what I do. I give you my life, my heart, and my future. I ask that you change my life as you changed Paul’s . . . and as you changed Hazel’s life.”
The Bible says, “He will not reject anyone who comes to Him honestly and with a sincere desire to change.” If you have never done so, I hope you will take that step today.
Hazel served a great God for her long life. In doing so, she also touched our lives in many ways.
- She loved us
- She taught you all kinds of things
- She took care of you and counseled you
- She served
- She made us laugh
- She gave us a hard time and continually reminded us not to take ourselves too seriously but to always take the Word of God and the message of salvation seriously.
- She showed us what marriage could be and should be
- She showed us what faith looked like
- And yes, she showed how to die with faith and dignity.
We have been blessed by the life of Hazel Hunerdosse. We thank God for her. And we look forward with anticipation to seeing her again.
Will you stand and sing with me hymn No. 345 Blessed Assurance.
Father, today we bow in thanksgiving for the assurance of eternal life that is ours thorough the grace you have extended in our Lord Jesus Christ. Thank you for reminding us of that grace over and over as we saw it in the life of Hazel Hunerdosse. I ask you to joyfully welcome her into your Kingdom. Father, help us to follow her example. Lead us to trust your love and grace as she did.
Grant your comfort to this family. Please grant wonderful memories of Hazel that will not diminish over time. Help Art in the times of loneliness. Provide for him as only you can. Draw this family together. Grant that they might walk as one in the footsteps of faith that have been laid down for them by Hazel. We ask in Jesus’ name. Amen