Striffler-Hamby Mortuary - Columbus

4071 Macon Road, Columbus, GA


Bessie Ellen Gazaway Hurst

June 6, 1932August 5, 2019

Bessie Ellen Gazaway Hurst, 87, Columbus, GA, peacefully passed away at home on August 5th, 2019. Visitation will be held in the St. Elmo Room of Striffler-Hamby Mortuary, Columbus on Tuesday, August 6, 2019 from 6:00 pm - 8:00 pm. Funeral services will be held in Edgewood Hall of Striffler-Hamby Mortuary, Columbus on Wednesday, August 7, 2019 at 2:00 pm. Mrs. Hurst was born June 6, 1932 in Wilcox County, GA, and raised in Americus, GA. She was the oldest daughter of the late Mearl Otis Gazaway and Lucy Mae Turk Gazaway. She retired from BellSouth with 45 years of service and was a member of the Bus Gang at Morningside Baptist Church.

Affectionately known as Aunt Bessie to most everyone; she volunteered in the church nursery, led the 5th and 6th grade girls in Sunday school, chaperoned many youth trips, loved coordinating the outdoor activities for Vacation Bible School up into her 80’s, shared her love of the beach with anyone who would ride down with her, enjoyed activities with her senior church friends and JOY Ministries group, served in leadership roles with the Telephone Pioneers, volunteered for the Columbus Baptist Association, sorted and handed out clothing and food at The Miles Center, collected items of all sorts all over town for various non-profits, walked dogs in her neighborhood and the local shelter, loved dog sitting for all of her fur baby friends and never turned down an opportunity for a little adventure, zip lining and white water rafting at the young age of 86. She remained young at heart until the end of her life and inspired others to do the same.

She would tell you not to be sad for her, as she is now walking, most likely running, the streets of gold with her beloved parents, her precious siblings, William Otis Gazaway, Sr. and Shirley Lucille Gazaway Cordle, her sweet Toby and granddogs, Sue Sue, Little Don, Meilly and Mimi. She missed all of them dearly, eagerly awaited seeing them again and knew that beyond a shadow of a doubt, they would all be waiting for her at the gates of Heaven. She would want you to have the same certainty of life after death, provided to her by her unfailing belief in her Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. John 3:16.

Survivors include her daughter, her pride and joy, Sara Beth Hurst Blanton (Tracy) of Columbus, GA, her loving sister, Virginia G. Lee of Americus, GA, her baby brother, Ernie E. Gazaway of Opelika, AL, her grandson, Travis (Alycia) Blanton, her great-granddaughter, Lyla Frazier, many precious nieces and nephews who felt Aunt Bessie’s love since the day they were born and the threat of her drawing circles on their butts if they misbehaved, her granddogs, Maestro and Beasley, many friends in her church community and the Telephone Pioneers and the Communication Workers of America.

The family would like to extend their sincere gratitude to all of those who took the time to visit Mrs. Hurst, bring food and send cards, throughout her ten-month battle with bladder cancer, and a very special thank you to her devoted caretakers, Tim and Marsha Ann Jordan, Stephanie Blackwell Pagan, Crystal Street and her treasured friend, Janet Davis.

In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to Mission Columbus, 3679 Steam Mill Road, Columbus, GA 31906. If you have ever been inspired by the life of Mrs. Hurst, we challenge you to perform an unsolicited act of kindness for someone in need today and keep it to yourself.


  • Mearl Otis Gazaway, Father (deceased)
  • Lucy Mae Turk Gazaway, Mother (deceased)
  • William Otis Gazaway, Sr., Brother (deceased)
  • Shirley Lucille Gazaway Cordle, Sister (deceased)
  • Sara Beth Hurst Blanton (Tracy), Daughter
  • Virginia G. Lee, Sister
  • Ernie E. Gazaway, Brother
  • Travis Blanton (Alycia), Grandson
  • Lyla Frazier, Great Granddaughter

  • Mission Columbus


  • Visitation Tuesday, August 6, 2019
  • Funeral Service Wednesday, August 7, 2019


Bessie Ellen Gazaway Hurst

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Martha Ann Turk Lackey

August 7, 2019

Bessie was one of our favorite cousins, she was so out going and always our connection to the Gazaway family after Aunt Mae past . We Loved her Dearly and we are going to miss her so much! May God Richly Bless her Family! Martha Ann Turk Lackey