Hazel B. Johnson passed into her well deserved heavenly home on Monday, June 25th 2018 at 9:17pm. She was in her home with her son at her bedside listening to stories about her family and to the music of her favorite singer, Elvis Presley.
Mrs. Johnson was born Hazel Lean Brewer August 8th, 1937 in Kannapolis, NC to Virgie Mae Brewer and Clement A. Brewer. She was the forth of five children and loved her family unconditionally. She was particularly close to her brother Edward, often getting their other siblings in trouble for what they together had perpetrated and put in motion. Her youngest sister Adelaide, who adored her big sister, looked so much alike they were often mistaken for one another despite being four years apart in age. Hazel in school was a very good basketball player and was a standout on her team thanks to her exceptional free-throw ability.
After high school she began work as domestic help for a family in Winston Salem, NC. She did this for a number of years before deciding it wasn’t enough and that she wanted more out of life. After speaking to her parents they helped her enroll at Winston Salem State College where in 1964 Hazel graduated from that institution with a Bachelor of Science in Education.
She married and moved to Atlanta GA where she had two children, Dempsey and Terri, and began her teaching career. In deep south GA, at that time (mid 1960’s) most everything was still segregated including teachers in school systems. On a Friday afternoon, Hazel was offered a position at a Georgia school where she would be the first black person to work on staff as an educator. She was told by the principal that if she turned the offer down he would understand but it would be at least a decade before anyone else of color would have such and opportunity. In the face of disrespect from some of the students, parents, faculty and receiving death threats, she started work that next Monday. Hazel was born with a “No Quit Grit” backbone. She didn’t let anything stop her once she started.
Mrs. Johnson began her 30 plus year career educating thousands of children and winning many awards along the way for her gifts as a teacher. Some of her awards included being named “Outstanding Elementary Mathematics Teacher of the Year” for Eden City Schools. She was a Delta Sigma Theta sorority sister and consistently enjoyed letters of appreciation and praise from the school board and the parents of her students. One letter stood out and touched her above all. A young girl in her class suffered the loss of her little brother during the school year. This little girls parents wrote to the school principal praising Mrs. Johnson for her extra care and compassion shown their surviving child.
Hazel divorced her first husband and moved back to North Carolina with her two children in the 80’s. Times were tough for awhile until she was able to get back on her feet. While she often went without her children never suffered. She always put them first. Often going without lunch money for herself so that her two children had enough.
In 1982 she met Reverend Timothy Johnson. They fell in love and married in 1984. He added his sons , Timothy, Terrence and Tracey to the family dynamic. Reverend Johnson and Hazel would remain together until his death in January of 2013.
In July of 2011 Hazel was diagnosed with Alzheimers/Dementia. It was a slow progression but it eventually took its toll on her ability to care for herself and took away her coherent speech capability. It did not however diminish her love of life and family and her smile and distinctive” from the soul” laugh.
She was fortunate enough to have a family that was able to care for her and keep her at home throughout the entire disease progression. Hazel never once had fear of strange surroundings because every night she laid her head down on her pillow , in her bed , in her home surrounded by the family that loved her as much as she loved them.
Hazel B. Johnson is survived by her sons Dempsey, Timothy, Terrence, Tracey, her daughter Terri her brothers Edward , Clement her sister Adelaide and her niece and nephews Clement III, June, Karen, Leon, and Robert.
Go enjoy those wings Hazel B. Johnson... you earned them.
A Memorial Service will be held at 1pm on July 14, 2018 at Bethel A.M.E. Zion Church in Kannapolis, NC.