Hazel Hope Burnside Stefanatz, 78, passed from our arms to the arms of her beloved son and the rest of her receiving heavenly family members, on September 22, 2022. She passed away at her home of nearly 50 years, surrounded by her daughters and grandchildren. In her final weeks, as lung cancer took over, she was fortunate to have many loved ones visit her at home and even hosted a wedding for her granddaughter, Kaycee Jo.
Hazel was born in LaPorte, Indiana on March 13, 1944. She was the youngest of seven children. The family joke was that her mom gave her the middle name Hope, because she hoped to God that she would be her last child. Together with her cousins, the Heils, their family ventured out to Montana when she was 3 years old. The Burnside’s lived in Olney and Trego, finally settling on Railroad Street in Kalispell. Along with her brothers and cousin Sharon, Hazel competed in the O-mok-see Rodeo. She loved barrel racing and was quite good at it. Hazel attended local schools, Elrod, Central, and Flathead High School. She graduated from beauty school and worked as a stylist until she became a mom. Hazel would continue to utilize these skills for years, cutting, perming, and styling her family and friends' hair. She married Ed Stefanatz in 1967, and although they separated in 1983, their love created three beautiful children, Shelly Diane, Carrie Sue, and Eddie Shawn.
Hazel worked for over thirty years in food service for School District 5. She started her day serving breakfast at Elrod and finished her day after cleaning up lunch at Flathead High School. Hazel was known for serving more than just food. She served smiles, laughter and a whole lot of love. Most importantly, Hazel watched out for kids in need. She never let a kid go hungry. She served as a mom or Grandma to many of them.
Hazel’s heart was huge. She was loving, strong, feisty, stubborn, protective and always ready to help a friend in need. She was not afraid to speak her mind, to tell you something she thought you needed to hear. She had a keen ability to read any situation. Hazel overcame many obstacles in her life with her sheer grit. She instilled this same determination to succeed in her children and grandchildren. Hazel devoted her life to her family and took great pleasure in watching them grow. She spent as much time as she could with them. For the last 10 years, Hazel has been the matriarch of the Burnside family. She has emulated this role with pride. She deeply loved her nieces and nephews, and great nieces and nephews, each one believed they were her favorite. Hazel’s simple pleasures included listening to country music and dancing, watching horse racing and rodeo, and all things western, finding a hidden gem at a thrift store, and having a cup of coffee or red beer with a friend.
Hazel is preceded in death by her beloved son, Eddie, her parents, Glen and Mable Burnside, and all six of her siblings and their spouses, Fay (Teddy), Gay (Duane), Rex (Sally), Ray (Marie), Sue (Gordon), Jerie “Jake” (Elsie), and foster sister-in-law, Cherris, and her niece Brenda. She is survived by her two daughters, Shelly (Eric), Carrie (Ted), her grandchildren, Cassidy Hope, Kaycee Jo (Sam), Kate Diane, Claire Marie Fay, Cameron Thomas, foster brother Bill, several cousins, numerous nieces and nephews, and many cherished friends. We will all miss her so much.
Funeral services for Hazel are scheduled for Friday September 30th. A viewing will be at Buffalo Hill Funeral Home at 11:00am, with graveside burial to follow at 12:00pm at Glacier Memorial Gardens. A Celebration of Life will be at Flathead High School Auditorium at 4:00pm, with a potluck reception following at the Eagles at 5:00pm. Memorial Donations accepted in Hazel’s name to School District #5 Lunch Program, ℅ Shari Culbert, to pay off overdue lunch accounts