Friends and family have laid to rest a retired farmer who devoted 17 of his 90 years to the citizens of Red Deer County.
Former councillors who worked with him during his years representing Division 2 remember William James “Bill” Hazlett as a gentle man with an intimidating demeanor.
First elected in 1977, Hazlett served six terms before being defeated in 1995 by oilfield business owner Dennis Featherstone.
Hazlett seemed crusty on the outside, but he was honest and gentle to the core, said fellow councillor and reeve Elmer Stoyberg, who was first elected to county council in 1983.
“We didn’t always see eye to eye, but we respected each other and each other’s positions,” said Stoyberg.
Earl Kinsella, who left county politics in October, recalls Hazlett as quiet and steady, devoted to preserving agricultural land in a area of the county immediately west of Red Deer, where the best fields were and still are in big demand for residential development.
He was also conscientious about spending and liked to ensure that the county lived within its means, said Kinsella, who served as both councillor and reeve before becoming the county’s first mayor.
“(Hazlett was) very firm in his convictions, not loud about it – pretty quiet, in a way. But certainly, you didn’t walk over him at all. He represented his area well,” he said.
Outside county politics, Hazlett like to spend his spare time rebuilding old tractors, said Kinsella.
Born in 1920, Hazlett died last Wednesday, Dec. 22, at Red Deer Regional Hospital Centre.
Predeceased by his wife, Marjorie, he leaves one daughter and two sons.
A memorial service was held at Balmoral Bible Chapel on Monday.