Hazel Caroline Lovaas was born in McKenzie County, N.D., on April 6, 1929. She passed away at home, Saturday, Sept. 18, 2021. Hazel was 92 years old.
Hazel was born at home near Berg, N.D., as the second child of five to Clarence and Bertha (Borreson) Lovaas. She began school at 5 years of age near Noonan, N.D. The school was short one student to meet the minimum attendance that year; Hazel filled the seat and started her education a bit earlier than normal. The remainder of her elementary education was completed at Sandstone School located about a mile from the family farm. She would go on to attend Sheyenne River Academy near Harvey, N.D. She would later receive her diploma from Mt. Ellis Academy, Bozeman, Mont., in 1967.
Hazel and Paul were married in a church parsonage in Williston, N.D., on Aug. 28, 1948. They purchased a registered Arabian stud colt (Hakeim) and a new spinet piano as they began their life together. This was just the beginning of a shared passion for horses. In later years, Hakeim was joined by a registered Appaloosa (Pogo) and a Shetland pony (Magic General Patton AKA Noodles). These joined a herd of other riding and breeding horses which at times numbered up to 60 head.
They began ranching on a property purchased from Paul’s uncle, Earl Henderson. During the early years, Hazel and Paul spent hours in constant companionship by riding together to check livestock welfare and gather for fall roundup on the Fort Berthold Reservation. Cattle were trailed to either old Sanish or Killdeer and then shipped to market by train to stockyards in Chicago, Ill., or St. Paul, Minn. Later in life, her saddle was taken to the saddle shop for repairs. The saddle maker looked at it and remarked, “This saddle has been ridden a million miles.” Not abused - just well used.
On one occasion while attempting to sort cattle into like-brand bunches, several riders were sitting on a ridge talking. The riders’ presence was making the sorting difficult because they were located right where the cows needed to cross to their respective groups. Hazel rode up and told them in no uncertain terms that they needed to move because they were in the way. She later discovered the group was partially made up of Page Baker Sr., Lee Hall, and Paul’s uncle Earl Henderson. She said they gave her a long look and moved to a less intrusive location. Years later she admitted her embarrassment when she realized her oversite in recognition of the respected gentlemen that day.
Making hay consumed a large amount of time during the summers, but it was almost always done together. Hazel embraced all parts of ranch life, but she found extra joy in baling hay. One summer, while working with a sickle section she accidently cut off the end of her thumb. She tightly held her glove containing the end of her thumb against the cut until she reached the doctor. He stitched and taped the thumb back together without separating the wound and it slowly healed with minimal issues.
Hazel’s married life was filled with many activities including attending horse shows, operating pony rides at the McKenzie County Fair, riding pastures, canning food, raising children, and preparing income taxes. She also enjoyed many community activities such as pie and box socials, shiveries, Vacation Bible School, Homemakers Club, and working cattle with nearby ranchers. For two winters James and Hazel commuted to Watford City to attend a Red Cross training for first aid. This proved to be very beneficial on numerous occasions.
After 10 years of marriage and keeping up with their busy lifestyle, Paul began having physical issues. Tests indicated Multiple Sclerosis-like symptoms. With this diagnosis, began a new series of challenges. While Paul was learning to navigate with physical limitations, Hazel faced the task of operating the ranch with limited help from her partner. Paul decided that AI-ing the cows would be a profitable venture, so off to Wisconsin and AI school Hazel went where she learned to be an AI tech. That began long sleepless months of heat detecting and breeding cows.
Paul, the love of her life, passed away in September 1977, leaving a large void in the family structure and her life.
Hazel, with the help of their seven children, continued to manage the ranch. It was not uncommon for Hazel and the kids to halter-break 15 or more new foals every spring. Summer work seemed never ending with hay to cut, stack, and haul while keeping a close watch on the cattle. Winter brought more challenges with cold weather and livestock to feed. She continued to ride horse as much as she could, but later shifted to a four-wheeler. When that became difficult, she relied on Kimber to chauffeur her around the ranch and neighborhood.
During her life, Hazel loved to tell children’s stories for church as well as play the piano, accordion, and guitar. Her talent and love for baking bread and rolling lefsa was known and appreciated by anyone who happened to stop by. Around 1975, she coordinated with orchards on the west coast to bring truckloads of fruit to North Dakota to resell. For years, Hazel and Kimber travelled around the community selling fruit and visiting with people. The fruit trailer and Kimber and her smiling faces were known far and wide.
Throughout her life, Hazel made Jesus and her faith in Him central. Frequently she talked of how thankful she had learned about Jesus and that she could trust Him with her life and the lives of her family. With verses underlined and notes in the margins, Hazel’s Bible was never far from reach and painted a picture of her unwavering belief. Even before she took her last breath, she quietly knelt by her chair.
Hazel maintained an active and fulfilled life until shortly before her death. She died at home on the ranch that she loved unconditionally.
Hazel was preceded in death by her parents, Clarence and Bertha Lovaas; husband, Paul Henderson; brother, Leo Lovaas; sister, Sally Foreman; and grandson, Justin Henderson.
Hazel is survived by sons, James (Carolyn) Henderson of Keene, N.D., Dennis (Cindy) Henderson of Minot, N.D., Larry (Barbara) Henderson of Milton-Freewater, Ore, Steve (Josyln) Henderson, of Fargo, N.D., Kimber Henderson, of Keene N.D.; daughters, Patsy (Dan) Gabbert of Hermosa, S.D., Penny (David) Pitman of Williston, N.D, Donna (Wayne) Foreman of Watford City, N.D.; brothers, Robert (Shirley) Lovaas of Watford City, N.D., Don (Bonnie) Lovaas of Keene, N.D.; and numerous grandchildren; great-grandchildren; and several great-great-grandchildren.
Visitation for Hazel Henderson was held Sunday, Sept. 26, 2021, at Fulkerson-Stevenson Memorial Chapel in Watford City, N.D. Funeral services were held Monday, Sept. 27, 2021, at the Rough Rider Center in Watford City, N.D. Remembrances, condolences and pictures may be shared with the family at www.fulkersons.com.