Hazel was born Feb. 24, 1926, in the Pine Creek area of Okanogan County to James and Elizabeth Allen, whose parents homesteaded in Okanogan County in 1905 from Austria. She was raised in the Pine Creek area with many family members, including her siblings, Grover, Frank, Elaine, Pearl and Harold, who passed at age 5.
Hazel peacefully made her way from this earth on Dec. 13, 2013.
Hazel graduated from Omak High School in 1943, and moved to Portland, Ore., and then San Francisco, Calif., where she worked for Fred Meyer Drug, in some of the first stores established. She later moved back to Omak, where she worked for Citizen State Bank.
In 1945, she married Cal Stevens and had three children, Sherrill, Nancy and Kelly. The couple later parted ways, but Hazel remained in Omak.
In 1967, she worked for Okanogan Community Action Council as a fiscal officer and executive secretary, becoming executive director in 1969.
As executive director of the Community Action Council, Hazel was responsible for the initiation and implementation of six county senior citizen centers, Senior Nutrition and Transportation, senior apartment housing, farmers markets, tribal county and alcohol programs, Headstart, water and sewer systems, including the Riverside water system, and seven county home health care programs. Hazel was instrumental in the development of the Western theme that is now a tourist attraction in Winthrop. She often raised funds for these services, and was always proud of the many staff and volunteer workers whose hard work and dedication was responsible for so many valuable county programs. She retired as executive director of the council in 1981.
However, Hazel went on to serve as chairman of the Omak Hospital Board and was very active in that position.
She worked diligently to establish the Wenatchee Valley College branch in the county, supporting the college in many aspects and even teaching a class when she was 86. She was especially proud of the nursing program and was happy to visit with the nurses at Mid-Valley Hospital who got their start through the program. She was one of the founding members of the board of Wenatchee Valley College, earning the emeritus award in 1996 for her exemplary service.
She received many awards throughout her career, including awards from the Governor’s Office, Washington Volunteer of the Year in 1984, as well as the Woman of the Year in 2004 by the Regional Soroptimist Club.
Hazel was always active in the community and had many peers and friends she dedicated her time and resources to. This fall she met with Gov. Jay Inslee, a long-time friend, to discuss ideas for the community. Her devotion to helping others was evident until the end of her life.
In 1974, she married Howard Burnett, the Okanogan postmaster and a long-time area rancher. She spent many years on their ranch south of Malott, assisting with the many responsibilities required to run a ranching business.
In 1999, Hazel moved to Okanogan with Howard, and sold their ranch to their grandson, Christopher Freel, wife Kimberly, and family.
Hazel then assisted the Precht, Harrison & Nearents Chapel staff until she retired due to health.
Hazel is survived by her husband, Howard; children Sherrill Tyler and her husband, Galen of La Conner, Wash., Nancy Phillips and her husband, Steve, of Malott, Kelly Stevens and his wife, Joy, of Mukilteo, Wash., Debra Wilson and her husband, Greg, of Spokane, Nancy Burnett, daughter-in-law of Redmond, Wash., plus grandchildren and great-grandchildren: Christopher Freel, wife Kimberly, and their four children; Tawnia Knox-Folmann, husband Troels, and their three daughters; Scott Knox, wife Robie, and their daughter; Matt Phillips, wife Lisa, and their three children; Dr. Brian Artman, wife Amy, and their three children; Aaron Artman, wife Leslie, and three children; Heidi Ortiz, husband Mike, and their four children; Bryce Stevens, wife Julie, and two boys; Inga Darrow, husband Brett, and their two boys; Carly Twiggs, husband Brian, and their daughter; Daniel Burnett, Tyler Wilson, Cassandra Wilson, Alexandra Wilson, Samantha Victor, husband Daniel, as well as nieces and nephews, all of whom loved her dearly. She was preceded in death by her parents, siblings Frank, Grover, Elaine, and Harold, two stepchildren, Gail and Gary Burnett, and two grandsons, David Burnett and Scott Phillips.
Any donations in her honor would be gratefully accepted at Okanogan Community Action and the nursing program at Wenatchee Valley College.
Visitation will be held Thursday (Dec. 19) from 4 to 8 p.m. at Precht-Harrison-Nearents Chapel, 2547 Elmway, Okanogan.
Her family appreciates all the support and kindness from the community, and invites you to attend her service Friday (Dec. 20) at 11 a.m. at the Precht-Harrison-Nearents Chapel.