Hazel Murphy Prichard
October 24, 1921 – December 25, 2020
Hazel Murphy Pritchard, 99, of St. Albans, WV, passed away on Christmas morning, Friday, December 25, 2020 at St. Mary's Hospital. Hazel was born at home on October 24, 1921 on a potato farm in Montrose, WV. She was the child of Hickman and Cora Wilmoth Murphy, and had one brother, Howard Murphy, who preceded her in death. She graduated from West Virginia University with a degree in home economics. While teaching at Moorefield High School, she met the love of her life, Frederick Pritchard, a Naval officer, and they married on September 1, 1945, one day before the end of WWII. She and Fred (now deceased) built a family united by love and dear memories: a son, Alan Pritchard and spouse, Judy, of Belmont, NC; three daughters, Sue Hatcher of Huntington, WV; Jane Pritchard, of Santa Rosa, CA; and Judy Najar of Princeton, WV; seven grandchildren: Chad Hatcher (Haley), Molly Hatcher (Casey), Jessica Pritchard, Cori Jade, Tom Najar (Melissa), Alan Najar, and Lena Deel (Josh); and eleven great-grandchildren: Lucy, Clara, Declan, Rylan, Hudson, Tyler, Lily, Cora, Titus, Payden, and Haley. She is also survived by niece Marg Heasley (Gill) and nephew David Murphy (Roberta).
Some of Hazel’s strongest memories shared over the years are around food: the gift of rare oranges from her father to the family on Christmas day, a plate of fudge made by her mother on her birthday, Aunt Lizzie’s special banana cake, churning homemade ice cream on July 4th to share with the neighbors, making pulley candy in the cold with dear friend Fran Martin; cooking and baking represented happy times around the table together with friends and family. A sweet tooth and greenthumb, Hazel expressed her love through sharing vegetables grown in her garden, baking caramel apple pies and cream pies with mile-high meringue, and making Turtle candies for friends and family.
Hazel also loved to tease and play, and her smile was infectious. She razzed neighbors and family with clever puns, pranks, and long-running jokes, and loved to laugh. She was a worthy opponent in Uno, Spite and Malice, and Rummy, and enjoyed gathering around the table with family and friends for a rousing game. In the summertime, her lush backyard, full of red ripe tomatoes, green beans, plump mulberries, fragrant herbs, moon flowers, and a tree with a tire swing covered in locust shells, was a site of many lively games of croquet. She and Fred also loved taking the Airstream camper out to Holly River and Beech Fork State Park with their camping buddies. Hazel enthusiastically passed along all of her gifts to three successive generations of jokesters, game enthusiasts, gardeners, campers, pie bakers, and candy makers.
Hazel was also a woman of faith. She was a charter member of Riverlawn Presbyterian Church, where she was an active part of the ministry and leader in the church since its founding in 1956. She served as a deacon, church historian, oversaw the prayer chain, and participated in Bible studies and women’s circles, among other roles. As her pastor Chris Kilbert noted when he nominated Hazel for the Presbytery of West Virginia’s Outstanding Older Adult Award, “she celebrates whatever season of life she is in” and “exhibits her faith in all she says and does.” When Hazel was no longer able to attend church, her church choir honored her by making special visits to her care home twice a year to sing.
Hazel had the gift of hospitality and a giver’s heart, always giving back rubs to her grandchildren, helping out neighbors and those who were ill or in need, and delivering meals and sermon notes to homebound friends. She has been an inspiration to many, a model on how to fully live life to those of her generation and the generations that have followed, leaving a vibrant spirit of strength, resilience, faith, intellect, and whimsy in her church and friend communities, children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren who carry on her legacy. Whether you knew her as “Hazel,” “Mom,” “Mammaw,” “Mammaw Tunnel,” or “Aunt Hazel,” she touched every one of us in her own special way. We were blessed to have her in our lives for so long, and we will cherish the precious memories we have of her.
The family is grateful for the loving care that her caregivers provided during the last few months of her life. They provided companionship during this pandemic and she felt safe in their care.
A celebration of Hazel’s life will be postponed until family and friends can celebrate safely together. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made in Hazel’s name to Riverlawn Presbyterian Church (https://www.riverlawnchurch.org, 2008 Pennsylvania Ave, St. Albans, WV 25177), Christ’s Kitchen & Food Pantry (https://www.facebook.com/christkitchenstalbans/, Box 248, St. Albans, WV 25177), or Cabell Wayne Association of the Blind (https://www.cwab.org/donate, 38 Washington Ave, Huntington, WV 25701).
Condolences can be sent to the family at www.casdorphandcurry.com
Hazel Murphy Prichard
January 3, 2021
Sincere sympathies to the family. May you find solace in the memory of a life well lived.
Billie Graybeal and Debbie Keener