Hazel Lee Thomas

Friday, March 15, 2013

Hazel Lee Thomas, 81, of Raytown, Mo., passed away on Wednesday, March 13, 2013, at her home after a brief illness.

Born in Jefferson City, Mo., to William E. Siebert and Pearl (McNew) Siebert, she and her family moved to Nevada, Mo., when she was a child. She graduated from Nevada High School in 1949 and shortly thereafter left for the big city of Kansas City where she worked at a film company.

In October 1956, she married her sweetheart, Robert D. (Bob) Thomas who predeceased her. Hazel and Bob had a beloved daughter, Stephanie Lynn. Stephanie and her husband, Daniel Gaetke, were passengers on TWA 800 when the plane crashed off Smith Point Park, Long Island, N.Y., on July 17, 1996. Within a year and one-half, Hazel experienced the loss of her mother, father, daughter, son-in-law, two nieces also on TWA 800, and her husband. Hazel served as a model of strength, resilience and generosity to all who knew her.

Hazel worked for KinderCare for many years and was loved by children and staff alike. Many stayed in touch with her after her retirement. During her retirement years, Hazel enjoyed birding trips to several sites across the country, traveling to visit family, gardening, reading, and going to the boats with friends and family. She was a lover of all things in the natural world and had an extensive knowledge of birds and plants.

Hazel is survived by brothers, William E. Siebert (Patty) of Kirkwood, Mo., and Larry R. Siebert (Helen) of Ft. Myers Beach, Fla. Other survivors include sisters-in-law, Joanne Saathoff of Nevada, Mo., Patricia Koch of Kansas City, and Paula Koch of Holiday Island, Ark. Additional survivors include nieces and nephews, great-nieces and nephews, extended family, many devoted neighbors and friends, and her cat Brandi.

In lieu of flowers, the family suggests contributions to Families of TWA Flight 800 Association, Inc., Box 1061, Clifton Park, NY 12065, or The Gaetke Memorial Scholarship in care of The Kansas City Art Institute, Advancement Department, 4415 Warwick Blvd., Kansas City, MO 64111.

A celebration of Hazel's life will be held on Saturday, March 16, at 11 a.m., with visitation just prior at 10 a.m., at Longview Funeral Home-Floral Hills, 12700 Raytown Road.