The Induction into the Patriots Hall of Honor normally takes place during the Patriots Day Luncheon, which is on November 4 this year. However in recognition of the life work of Hazel Oliver and that she will be turning 100 years old in August, the Gadsden-Etowah Patriots Association will have a special induction ceremony on March 31 at 11 a.m. at the Gadsden City Hall during the City Council Meeting.
Oliver’s mother, Louise Christopher Pierce, was from Gadsden-pioneers of the city and played a major role in its founding. The home and farm of Oliver’s great-grandfather, William Christopher, adjoined the original survey of the City of Gadsden. Her mother moved to Colorado as a young woman to live near her sister and Oliver was born there on August 11, 1915, to Lawrence and Louise Pierce. When she was five years old, her mother moved the family back to Gadsden. Oliver’s grandfather was a veteran of the Confederate Army and she heard stories from him and her mother’s activities in the Daughters of the Confederacy, where she remains active.
Oliver attended the Eleventh Street School, graduated from Gadsden High School in 1932 at age 17 then went to Gadsden Business College, attended Alabama School of Trades and took numerous other courses. She was also an avid swimmer and diver.
Hazel married Clarence Elwood Oliver in 1947, but he died five years later. She always traveled, making many trips to Birmingham for symphonies. 1938-1955 she was employed as bookkeeper at Ross-Gramling Furniture, 1955-Retirement at Life Insurance Company of Alabama.
Oliver learned to play the piano at an early age and played the violin in the first Gadsden Symphony Orchestra where she was first chair for the first concert of the Northeast Alabama Symphony Orchestra in 1954.
Hazel has a love for books and is best known for her work with Friends of the Library, the Gadsden Music Club, and the Etowah Historical Society (served as secretary-treasurer for 35 years). She is a longtime member of First United Methodist Church and remains active in the United Methodist Women and served as treasurer of the Etowah County Fund for Indigent Children.
In 1960 Friends of the Library was organized and Hazel was charter member and treasurer, volunteer in the library, presently on the library’s board of directors. She was credited with much of the success of Friends of the Library group when it was the largest in the state with 1,200 members. She organized many activities, including visits from other authors, participated in oral history projects at library and donated newspaper clippings, programs and letters dating back more than 50 years. The Friends of the Library has reorganized recently.
Hazel loves the town where she has lived most of her life, especially its history. She loves people, believes good health comes from staying active and involved in her community. Her advice is to be “interested in things other than yourself.”
“You need to try to help your community and take part in things, to help make a difference in the world,” said Oliver.