Hazel Betty Louise Van Valkenburg-Huff, 83, died April 11, 2014, after experiencing a stroke at the Provincial House in Adrian where she had resided the last year and a half.
Hazel was born near Adrian Dec. 27, 1930, the ninth of ten children born to Charles and Florence (Hall) Biddix. Eight of her siblings preceded her in death: Lillian Schoonover, Rev. Floyd Biddix, Edna Dunfee, Leroy Biddix, Marguerite Morse, Earl Biddix, Fred Biddix and Raymond "Duane" Biddix. One sister, Grace Aebersold-Munger of Onsted, survives.
Hazel graduated from Morenci High School in 1948. On July 27, 1949, she married William Gene Van Valkenburg at the Chapel in the Garden in Angola, Ind., and the newlyweds set up housekeeping on North Street in Morenci.
In 1950, they bought a 40 acre farm on Munson Highway just south of the former Lime Creek Store, and in 1959 they purchased the 80 acre Joe Hill farm on Canandaigua Road. Hazel worked faithfully beside her husband on the dairy and crop farms driving tractors and doing chores.
She accepted Christ as her Savior as a teenager while attending the former First Baptist Church of Morenci and her Christian faith was very precious to her. Bill and Hazel faithfully attended the Canandaigua Community Church for many years where Hazel taught Sunday School, Junior Church, led the youth ministry, and served as a deaconess. She was a faithful prayer warrior and she and Bill had a great love for Rescue Mission work.
Three children were born to this union, Linda DuDonis of Morenci, Rev. William (and Rosalyn) Van Valkenburg of Adrian, and Patricia (and Thomas) Sims of Albion, Mich. While raising their children, Bill and Hazel also opened their home to a number of foster children. For a few years there were seven teenagers in the home for Hazel to cook and care for. She enjoyed cooking even if it was for an army, and if the preacher was coming for Sunday lunch it meant grabbing one more chicken out of the coop to prepare.
The children surprised their parents with a 25th anniversary celebration in July 1974, which turned out to be a very significant event. Just a few months later, on May 15, 1975, a car driven by a drunk driver crossed the centerline while Bill was driving home on M-34 after working at Bohn Aluminum. Bill swerved to avoid the car and instead hit a different car head-on and a few hours later died from his injuries, leaving Hazel a widow at the age of 42.
A year later Hazel sold the family farms and equipment and enrolled in nursing school. She graduated from Jackson Community College as a Licensed Practical Nurse and was hired at Lynwood Manor. Soon after Bill's death, Hazel purchased a cabin near Harrison, Mich., and throughout the last 35 years whenever she needed to get away she would make the drive north to enjoy some peace and quiet.
In the spring of 1991, Hazel met a widower from Port Clinton, Ohio, named Lloyd Huff and they were married June 22, 1991, at the Canandaigua Community Church. After Lloyd retired, the couple moved to Waldron and then to Camden. During this time Lloyd and Hazel enjoyed being involved in the ministry of the Seneca Community Church. When Lloyd was diagnosed with colon cancer they moved into York Hills Apartment complex in Morenci. Lloyd died Oct. 30, 2005.
Hazel enjoyed making comforters, painting, sewing, reading and traveling. She was a fiercely independent woman and did not want others "taking care" of her. This made it somewhat challenging after she experienced two strokes in April of 2011, and her health gradually began declining.
Besides her three children, Hazel is survived by five granddaughters, Lee Ann Howard, Lynn Ann Rinck, Pamela Cupp, Rebecca Rinck and Melissa Sims; five grandsons, Scott Rinck, Matthew Sims, and William, Andrew and Timothy Van Valkenburg; 14 great-grandchildren; and two great-great grandchildren.
Visitation is planned from 2-4 and 6-8 p.m. Monday, April 14, 2014, at Eagle Funeral Home-Charles Fink Chapel in Morenci. A private family committal service will take place in the Oak Grove Cemetery in Morenci.
Memorial donations are suggested to the Lenawee County Mission, a local ministry to the homeless and needy (227 North Broad St., Adrian, MI 49221).