Hazel Calhoun Hays, a native of Monroe, Louisiana was born to George and Lilla Calhoun. She was reared in Kingsville, Texas where she attended public school and graduated from Solomon Cole High School in Corpus Christi, Texas. She enrolled at St. Philip’s College where she received an Associate Degree with honors. Hazel earned a Bachelor of Science Degree in Biology, with honors, from Wiley College in Marshall, Texas. After graduation, Hazel later met William Hays Jr. and married him in 1952. To that union three children were born, William Hays III, Barrett Hays, MD and Karen Hays. Because of the unexpected death of Hazel’s sister, Ida she assumed the guardianship of Ida’s daughter Rosalynd Calhoun whom she and William raised as their own daughter.
Hazel transitioned to glory on Friday, May 3, 2019. The Lord allowed her to see an amazing 91 years. She was vibrant and dynamic until the end. For those who knew and remember Hazel, you will recall that she was a ‘take-charge’ person but one who could keep you laughing endlessly with her humor. Hazel was preceded in death by her husband William Hays Jr.; her parents George and Lilla Calhoun; her siblings Ida, George Jr.; Calvin; Melvin and Dorothy.
Always a faithful servant of God, Hazel was active in her church, where she has been a member for 67 years, joining in 1952. Hazel’s leadership skills were faithfully utilized at her beloved Second Baptist Church. She was active in many capacities. Hazel was the first coordinator of the Birth Month Club, appointed by the late Rev. S. H. James Sr. She served in various capacities including president of the Hospitality Auxiliary, member of the Matron Guild, Sunday School Teacher, the Andrews Club and the 1975 Women’s Day Chairwoman. Intermittent health issues limited Hazel’s full participation in her church auxiliaries.
For many years, Hazel participated in numerous professional and civic organizations. She was a life member of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Inc. Alpha Phi Beta Chapter where she had served as Basilus, having held all offices, Chairman of all committees; as chairman, she spent hours preparing souvenir books for publication. She became a Zeta in 1948 at Wiley College and finally became a Zeta Dove. She was a charter member of the local Pan Hellenic Council where she served in many leadership roles.
Hazel was a strong supporter of her Alma mater, Wiley College. She was an active member of the San Antonio Wiley Club. She served as the first Vice President of the Wiley College National Alumni Association from 2002-2004. On, March 5, 2016, she received special recognition from the S.A. Wiley Club for her outstanding contributions and commitment over the years to better many lives in the San Antonio Community and continued “To Go Forth Inspired, Glorious Deeds To Do”.
As a Silver Life member of the N.A.A.C.P, Hazel engaged in the many struggles for racial equality that this organization is known for.
Trailblazing is the category that described Hazel Hays’ energy, strength and determination. She was hired at Kelly Air Force Base as a File Clerk, GS-2. She progressed to a clerk typist, supply clerk, Inventory Management Specialist, Data Management and EEO Counselor/Officer, GS-12. Along this progressive way there were many, many instances of personal accounts of racial discrimination where Hazel intervened on behalf of workers who had been treated unfairly due to race. She was a member of the Kelly Management Club and served on the Executive Committee as a representative for women’s issues and views. Working in civil service during the ‘60s’ era required determination, strength, persistence, courage, all traits of a true trailblazer. Hazel took on the task of defender and representative, against the establishment, often, with much uncertainty regarding her own employment. As a collateral duty Hazel served as Federal Women’s Program Manager for the Directorate of Material Management and wrote the first Plan of Action for Women which served as a model for many throughout the Air Force and other agencies.
Realizing and seeing the need to train women to be comfortable in leadership roles, Hazel organized three Toastmistress Clubs in the Directorate and started enlightenment meeting during the lunch period which lead into the ‘Lunch and Learn’ Program base wide. Hazel could easily be labeled as “The Organizer”. In 1961 she helped to organize the Government Girls club – A civic organization comprised of women who work for the government. She was the charter Vice President and also served as President for four years. In 1979 she organized the San Antonio Chapter of Blacks in Government and was elected its President.
Hazel is survived by her three children William ‘Billy’ Hays, III – Dallas, Texas; Dr. Barrett Hays (Gretta) – Tucson, Arizona; and Karen Hays, San Antonio, Texas; her niece, whom she raised Rosalynd Calhoun – Houston, Texas. She is also survived by her three remaining siblings: Thomas Aaron ‘Jack’ Calhoun – Texas City, Texas; Mary Etta Calhoun Toliver – LaMarque, Texas; and Richard Edwin ‘Ed’ Calhoun (Avis) – San Antonio, Texas; her sister-in-law Lucille Calhoun – San Antonio, Texas; four grandchildren, RoShana Adamson; Christopher Thomas (Keri); Leanna H. Hays; India Elizabeth Hays; and six great grandchildren: Addison, Quinn, & Oliver Thomas; Raven, Jadyn and Quinn Adamson and other nieces and nephews.