Hazel Lee Syph was born on September 25 to the proud parents of Roosevelt Lee and Agnes Lee in Monroe, Louisiana. She was the first born of nine children and affectionately called ‘sister’ by their grandmother. Being the oldest, she was often given the responsibility of babysitting the younger siblings through the years. This no doubt helped her develop her leadership qualities and to her benefit never had to wear hand-me-down clothes.
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She was a proud graduate of Jesup W. Scott High School. She was very popular with fellow students and involved in many student body activities. Hazel was very studious and her discipline reflected in her academic excellence. After graduating she pursued her business courses that gave her the background in finances and community resources. Because Hazel was the oldest and very mature in many ways, her parent always looked to her for advice. As the voice of reason when they had big decisions to make, and without a doubt she was always there for them.
When it was time to work Hazel worked, when it was time to play, she played hard. One of her favorite hobbies was bowling. She was a skillful bowler which opened doors statewide for many years of competition. She was a winner many times with prizes of beautiful gold trophies and grand prize payouts. Work and hobbies didn’t consume all her time, there was also time she spent with her younger siblings like taking them for a drive or other outings.
Hazel later became a tennis fan. She enjoyed tennis so much that she would schedule her life around major tennis opens. She was known for not answering the phone during the finals and did she ever love to watch Serena and Venus play. After many years of watching tennis her son bought her tickets to the U.S. Open tennis tournament on New York for her 70th birthday. Hazel was afraid of flying, but she flew to New York for the tournament and back.
Hazel’s passion was really reading. She traveled through history by reading and learned the biography of many great people. Reading brought Hazel great pleasure and relaxation. She always said she never needed to get on a plane because she could go anywhere in the world with a book.
Hazel began her employment at Ohio Bell Telephone Company. She retired and later reentered the workforce at People’s Savings Bank. She was Head Teller for six years and then promoted to Branch Manager at the Monroe-Talmadge location. Hazel was a dependable committed employee. She was again promoted to Assistant Secretary of the Association which made her an officer of the company also on the Board of Directors. She retired after many years of employment.
The greatest chapter of Hazel’s life was when she wed Cleo Syph, Sr. They traveled in state and out of the country. After many years of marriage they were blessed with a son Cleo Syph, Jr. He was their life joy. He was so precious to them that they only let her mother babysit him. Cleo Jr. and his wife Jenny made her a proud grandparent of Solomon and Grace. She showed off their pictures every chance she could.
Hazel became a committed Christian and joined Friendship Baptist church. After some year there she moved her membership to First Church of God where she served as an usher. A few years later Hazel moved her membership to Family Baptist Church where fulfilled many roles. One of her proudest moments was when she was ordained on the Mother's Board in a special ceremony. She maintained here membership until the day the good Lord called her home. During the years when Hazel was in good health she wore a beautiful smile which reflected her beautiful heart.
Before retiring Hazel suffered a severe stroke followed by others which led to her declining health. But, Hazel was not complaining, she continued to be independent and fill her days with reading, tennis and meetings.
She was preceded in death by her husband Cleo Syph, Sr., parents Roosevelt and Agnes Lee, brothers Charles and Otha Lee. She leaves to cherish her memory son Cleo Syph, Jr. (Jenny), grandchildren Solomon and Grace Syph, stepchildren Sharon Syph, Victoria Syph-Hunter, Bridget Montgomery (Ted), Terry (Juanita), sisters Mable Gray, Effie Lee, Essie Wiggins, Mildred Lee, brothers Willie Lee (Barbara) and James Lee and a host of family members and friends.