Hazel Christina Spruill (nee Chester) was born on Nov. 25, 1915 to Samuel and Rosa Chester in the small town of Cambridge, Md. Hazel was the third of four children. Her siblings; Robert, Agnes and Bernice, remained extremely close throughout their lives.
The “Chester Girls” were known for their style and charisma from day one. They enjoyed tremendous popularity and developed long lasting friendships with many of their “Pals and Gals” in Cambridge.
Graduating from Cambridge High School in 1932, Hazel had already developed an intensive appreciation for the value of education. She would pass this quality on to her children and grandchildren; encouraging and rewarding the success of each throughout their educational experiences.
But Hazel also had that unique style “thing” going on! She was always meticulously dressed and inevitably would set the fashion trends of the day. She was a Big City girl living large in a small town and thoroughly enjoying life. She knew she had a special talent for cosmetology. Many of her friends would come to her to provide them that special touch she had with hair. A Hazel prepared hairstyle was easily recognized and often imitated.
Hazel followed her dreams and enrolled in cosmetology school, where she naturally excelled. Receiving her license, building on her talents and reaching for her dreams, she began to share her skills with others through teaching.
Stepping closer to her future, she, and her sisters, packed their bags and moved to Baltimore. In no time she opened a small salon and soon became regionally recognized for her talents. Passing the state examiner’s board, her responsibilities were quickly elevated. Though she continued to teach and practice her craft, she now also played a management role in the design and conduct of cosmetology certification programs.
Though her professional accomplishments were lauded through Baltimore, there were others who were focusing on her style and attractiveness. Approached by an agency to become a professional model, she was ecstatic. Excited about this new opportunity, she expressed surprise and remained humble and realized others viewed her as a lady of beauty. Life was good.
Meeting Lonnie C. Spruill was, in her words, “something else.” Love led to marriage on April 18, 1940. While Lonnie served in the navy, his Peachie continued her salon business but she began to sense a growing entrepreneurial need to extend their holdings and ensure their security. The marriage produced three children: Lonnie Jr. in 1942, Cassandra (Sandi) in 1947 and Ronald, 1950.
By this time, they owned and operated a restaurant as well as her salon. She quickly gained the reputation for being a smart, tough business lady
Hazel loved the social life. Agnes, Bernice and the “fourth sister” Dolly (wife of their brother Robert) and she were charter members of the “Les Femmes.” This club was known for their parties, dinners and trips. Mother fully enjoyed the camaraderie and closeness the membership provided. The Les Femmes would go on to last many years.
But, it was a well-known documented fact that NOTHING was more important to Hazel than the care of her family. Not only did she care for her children, but also Lonnie’s younger siblings, especially his five sisters. As was Mom’s nature, she took the younger sisters under her wing-moving them to Baltimore. She ensured they completed their education, found them jobs and took no stuff when any of the sister’s interest would wander. With their mother’s early death, she became without hesitation, a mom to them all. Even today, the remaining siblings: Martha, Francis and Connie, will share stories into the night of their attempted escapades under the constant watching eye of Peachie.
Her children grew up knowing the value of education to their mom. Only the best schools for her kids. Education was not a social event but the stepping-stone to a successful life. Success was not to be a dream for her children but a reality.
Even with their business enterprises expanding, Mom continued to serve her community. She became president of the Baltimore Meals on Wheels program committing herself to ensuring the well being of the infirmed and elderly.
It was when her grandchildren started to come that we saw a side of Hazel that can only be described as beautiful. She loved each child with such intensity and cared for them with total tenderness
The sudden death of her beloved Lonnie in September 1973 devastated our Mom. But instead of allowing herself to grieve alone, she grew stronger to ensure her children and grandchildren would not face the loss alone.
Her life evolved even more now around her family and community. She remained active in outreach and in 1990, was presented the “Sandtown Award for Contributions to Her Community.”
With the children grown and off on their own, Hazel moved to her newly opened Weinberg Woods Senior Citizen Home in Pikesville, Md. As a testament to her intelligence and leadership skills, Hazel became the first president of the Weinberg Residential Association. She was continuously elected to this position for eight consecutive years, until she decided it was time to rest.
Failing health led to Hazel entering the Courtland Gardens Nursing Facility. Despite her infirmities, she continued to serve in her usual leadership role—directing groups of residents to meetings, establishing small social activities and group chats. She became a favorite to most of the staff.
Hazel Christina Spruill died the morning of March 23rd surrounded by her children and much beloved grandchildren.
Memorial services for Hazel Spruill were held 2 p.m., March 28 at First and Franklin Street Presbyterian Church, 210 West Madison Ave. in Baltimore.
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