Hazel Berniece Venable Pridgen, 78, was born June 26, 1935, in Venable, Mo., to Charley and Mandy Friend Venable. Hazel passed away Jan. 1, 2014, at her daughter’s home in Plano, Texas. She was a victim of cancer, which took her life in three short months.

Hazel was preceded in death by her parents and an infant brother, Roy Dean Venable.

She is survived by her daughter, Jo Ellyn Keaton of Plano, Texas; a son, Scott Dawson of Honolulu, Hawaii; a grandson, Spencer Robuck and his wife, Kasey, of Tulsa, Okla.; a granddaughter, Elysah Jo Dawson of Minneapolis, Minn.; a great-grandson, Joey Greenwood of Minneapolis, Minn.; a brother, Charles Venable and his wife, Feldra, of Houston, Mo.; four sisters, Frances Hein of Bakersfield, Calif., Virginia and Don Martin of Dixon, Mo., Mary Ellen and Sid Higashi of Success, Mo., and Sharon Kaye and Ken Heffley of Redding, Calif.; and many nieces, nephews, cousins and friends in California, Texas and Missouri.

Hazel was saved in the Ellis Prairie Baptist Church as a young girl with her parents and three of her siblings. They were all baptized at Dog’s Bluff on the Piney River in Houston, Mo.

Hazel grew up in the now Bucyrus area, attending the one-room Venable Elementary School until it closed. She finished grade school at Pine Ridge, another one-room school. She attended Licking Union High School, where she was honored to be elected the homecoming queen in 1952. She graduated in 1953.

Hazel married the late Bobby Joe Keaton in May, 1953, in Licking, Mo. To this union her two children were born. They made their home in Licking, Mo., before moving to Texarkana, Texas. After their divorce, Hazel and the two children moved to Fresno, Calif., to be near her sister, Mary Ellen. In Fresno, Hazel worked for the Internal Revenue Office for several years and was a secretary for a lawyers group for six years.

She met and married Scott Dawson Pridgen, a Southern Pacific Railroad dictation reporter in Fresno, Calif., in February 1973. Scotty passed away in 1981. Hazel and her beloved cat, Goldie, moved to Plano, Texas, in 2001 to be near her daughter.

Hazel was a beautiful, vivacious and full of mischief lady –– you could see it in the sparkle of her hazel eyes. She never met a stranger and was well-loved by her friends and neighbors. She played a “mean” game of Zilch, loved singer Celine Dion and never forgave Tiger Woods for his betrayals. She loved animals and delighted in feeding her furry and feathered friends from the nature preserve near her home in Plano, Texas. She had two beloved cats, Colby, who passed away in Fresno, Calif., and Goldie, who passed away this past summer. She had Goldie cremated with the ashes in a beautiful urn. She loved to watch hummingbirds fighting for the nectar feeders and had names for the male hummers, such as Sid, Radar and Rambo. She fed the rabbits, which came and looked at her through her glass door, carrots by the hand and got very seriously angry when a bobcat carried one off. Her yard and patio were often visited by some type of animal.

Hazel loved to cook, especially those collard greens and beans her daughter loved so well. Her niece, Tammy Jones, of Fairfield, Calif., called Hazel her recipe book. When she needed a “cook know-how,” she called her Aunt Hazel. She made a pie crust that melted in one’s mouth.

If the San Francisco 49ers were playing football, she was in front of the TV yelling for them to win and telling them what they were doing wrong. She would also yell at the opposing team to stop playing wrong. She and her husband, Scott, attended several games when they were playing close by Fresno.

She got so much fun out of exchanging crazy birthday cards with her sister, Mary Ellen. This card exchanging started many weeks before their real date. They exchanged nearly two dozen funny birthday cards every year.

In Plano, she became like a second mom to many of her daughter’s friends who didn’t have their mom any longer or lived far away. She nicknamed one “Sweet tater.” Hazel also had a nickname “Giggles” as there were very few moments in her life she wasn’t laughing and smiling about something.

Hazel took the news of her cancer without a complaint, and she tried to hide her pain with smiles to her medical personnel and her daughter. She never did shed a tear about her condition. Her comment was, “It is what it is.”

Hazel’s wishes were that there be no funeral. A private memorial service will be held at a later date by Evans Funeral Home. Online condolences may be made at www.evansfh.com.

In her memory, she would love one of make a donation to any animal rescue organization or the American Cancer Society. But more than that, she would love it if people would remember to smile more, be kind to people and animals more and treasure each and every day of your life.

Hazel will be missed and will live on in the hearts of all who loved her.


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