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October 8, 2012

Limestone County native turns 102

— When longtime Limestone County resident Hazel Toone was born Oct. 13, 1910, William Howard Taft was president of the United States.

Just six months earlier, Earth had passed through the tail of Halley’s Comet, Henry Ford had sold his first 10,000 automobiles and Jell-O was being packaged as America’s most famous dessert.

Since that day, nearly 102 years ago when she was born to farmers Mack and Ilene Owens in an area near Clements, Hazel has seen her share of extraordinary events.

Growing up, Hazel attended Pleasant Point School. She later married Ben McGlocklin, a farmer who after returning from the service became a barber. The couple had their only child, Jerry McGlocklin.

For many years after, Hazel worked in a washeteria in Athens. When her first husband passed, she married Dewey Toone. The marriage allowed Hazel’s family to grow to include seven stepchildren: Rosella Pugh, Jean Campbell, and Myrtle Barnett and the late Jewel Blakely, Vernon Toone, Thomas Toone and J.C. Toone.

“She has been like a mother to us. She has always been there when we needed her,” said her stepdaughter Myrtle.

Together, Hazel and Dewey bought the washeteria where Hazel worked until Dewey died.

At age 69, she got a job with the Educational Opportunity Center where she worked, said Jerry, until she was 80. She retired for a year before the person in charge of the Center asked her to come back to work. She was 85 when she retired for the second time.

Faith has always been important to Hazel. She is a longtime member of the Market Street Church of Christ.

Jerry said her longevity might be contributed to the fact she has always done extremely hard work. “She didn’t do anything the easy way,” he said. “She always has been very active and very healthy.”

Those who know Hazel, know her ability to cook. “It didn’t make a difference if she knew somebody or not,” Jerry said. “If she heard somebody was sick, she would cook something and either take it or send it to them. At reunions and get-togethers, she wouldn’t let anybody serve her. She wanted to do all of the cooking and serving. Regardless of how much you eat, it was never enough to satisfy her. She wanted you to eat more.”

Jerry said her cooking is from the “old school.” His favorites made by Mother are chicken and dumplings, turkey and dressing, fried fish, and fried chocolate and apple pies.  Hazel’s favorite —  poke salat.

“The reason she’s lived so long is probably because she has eaten everything that is supposed to kill you,” Jerry laughed. “Fatback and all the grease she can put into something, and lots of sweets.

This Saturday, Hazel will, hopefully, let others serve her for a day as she celebrates her 102nd birthday surrounded by her four surviving children, numerous grandchildren, great-grandchildren and great-great-grandchildren and many more family members and friends. Her birthday party is from 6-8:30 p.m. in the cafeteria at Athens Rehabilitation Center and SeniorCare, formerly known as Athens Convalescent Center. Friends are invited to attend.

Jerry is a member of Athens-based band Just Down the Road and he and some friends plan to pick at the party. Jerry said he has fond memories of the times he used to sit and play fiddle with his mom strumming the guitar.

Hazel lived with Jerry and his wife Joyce for many years before moving to the Center last year. She enjoys visiting and receiving cards and letters from her friends and family from across Limestone County.

“We have been so blessed to have her and this family,” Jerry said. 

Happy 102nd birthday, Hazel!

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