Dorothy Marie Hazelbaker

Dorothy Marie Hazelbaker

The beautiful soul of Dorothy Marie Hazelbaker has rejoined the great God who graced us with her presence for 88 years.

Dorothy passed away peacefully on Monday April 17, 2017 in the presence of her children. She died from chronic congestive health failure.

Dorothy was born on a central Wisconsin dairy farm in Portage County, the first daughter of Nickolai and Eldora Romundson. She and her two brothers grew in a world where the warmth of a loving family had to overcome the bitter chill of the Great Depression. Dorothy attended the one-room Loberg School in the Town of New Hope. It was not until she was well along at Amherst High School that her family had electric light to read by. She graduated from high school in 1946 into the post-World War II economic boom. Pressed by lack of local jobs to look elsewhere, she took a secretarial position at the Waukesha Motor Works in Waukesha, Wisconsin.

In 1949, on a blind date she met Leo Hazelbaker, who had moved from Fithian, Illinois to Mukwonago, Wisconsin, also in search of work. They were married on July 15, 1950 and settled in Mukwonago. They built a life together with love and shared hard work. She brought Diana (1952), Mark (1957) and Debbie (1959) to the family and made a loving, supportive home for all five of them.

Dorothy knew nothing other than ceaseless devotion to God and family. Her extraordinary strength became especially evident in 1965, when her daughter Diana was hospitalized for 10 weeks with a serious illness, in the middle of which Leo suffered his first heart attack. Somehow she managed to visit both of them every day, even though Diana was in Waukesha and Leo in Sheboygan – and she did not drive.

Though it would be wrong to say that Dorothy never bent under this weight, she never broke. She saw to the education and care of her family even as Leo went through seven years of steadily declining health. She and Leo gave Diana away in marriage in September 1971. They were happy to learn in March 1972 that they would be grandparents that fall. When Leo died on June 1, 1972, she persisted in the same faith-driven, loving support for her children which had always sustained them.

Dorothy went to work and returned to school to update her skills. She was an unending supportive presence for her children as they worked through their own challenges of life. She enjoyed the blessing and reward of a wonderful granddaughter, Jenny, and later, a grandson, Nikolas. Later, Jenny presented her with two wonderful great-grandsons, Andrew and Logan.

As she aged, Dorothy remained in the home she and Leo had built. She was devoted to her cats, several dogs and her church. She worked to stay busy as well as to support herself. She finally retired in 2005 and moved to Madison to the Sherman Glen senior apartments, where she made many new friends.

In her later years, Dorothy experienced loss of almost all her vision due to macular degeneration. But she remained the person she always was – happy and grateful for what she had rather than upset at what she lacked. Her faith in God sustained her, her love for others maintained her, and her family entertained her.

In 2010, she sustained a hip fracture; attending physicians were skeptical she could ever live independently again. She worked in therapy to beat the odds, returning to her apartment for the rest of her life. Through the last seven years of her life, unending selfless dedication from her daughter Debbie, with assistance from Diana and Mark, kept her comfortable and safe. She was able to enjoy many holidays, birthdays and life events as she saw grandchildren graduate from college and graduate school, marry and give her great-grandchildren.

Throughout her long life and final illness, Dorothy never complained, remained happy for the company of her family, and certain in a life to come with God. Her beautiful soul inspired all who knew her, and will live on in the acts of kindness she inspired.

Dorothy is survived by her daughter Diana Mahlberg and her husband Tom, of Concord, Wisconsin; son Mark of Madison and his wife Deb Hoffman; and daughter Debbie Hazelbaker of Madison. She is also survived by granddaughter Jenny Danks of Waukesha and her husband Chris and their sons Andrew and Logan; and by her grandson Nik Hazelbaker of Chicago; by Thom’s daughter, Andrea Mahlberg and her children, Jaxon, Phoenix and Emelia, and by Deb Hoffman’s children, David and Elizabeth Aeschliman.

There will visitation in celebration of her life at RYAN FUNERAL HOME, 2418 Sherman Avenue, Madison, WI on Saturday, April 22 from 2pm to 4pm. A Funeral Service will be held at Ryan Funeral Home at 4pm. She will be interred in Oak Knoll Cemetery in Mukwonago, Wisconsin next to Leo in a family service. The family requests that in lieu of flowers, donations be made to the Dane County Humane Society in memory of this extraordinary woman who loved cats. To view and sign this guestbook, please visit: