FREEDOM — Freedom’s oldest citizen, Hazel A. (Tyler) Cross, died Monday, Aug. 15, 2022, at the age of 99.

Hazel was born in Hermon on Flag Day, June 14, 1923, one of six daughters of Lewis and Flora (Townsend) Tyler. She attended Freedom schools and in 1942 graduated from Freedom Academy where she composed the Class Ode.

There she met her husband of 69 years, Stephen Myrick Cross, and they were married June 11, 1942, and she moved from the Tyler home just down the street into Springvale, his family’s dairy farm across from the Academy. As a farm family homemaker, Hazel worked hard to support the local dairy business and her husband’s extended family.

Their surviving son, Myrick Tyler Cross, an Episcopal priest who lives on the family farm in Freedom, was born in 1943. Their surviving daughter, Ruth E. Tyler-Cross, a biochemist and U.S. Patent agent who lives in Reston, Va., was born in 1951. Hazel expressed great pride in her children’s accomplishments.

In addition to her faithful work as a farmer’s wife, Hazel was very involved in the community. For many years she served as town clerk and was an active member of Freedom Congregational Church where she sang in the choir and in a quartet. She was awarded a 75-year longest membership recognition in Dirigo Grange 98. Hazel was employed as a clerk in the U.S. Postal Service and was appointed postmistress of the Thorndike and then Freedom post offices.

She cherished her grandchildren, Stephen Eloihim of Reston, Va.;, Carrie Cross of Portland (David Choi); and Katherine Cross (“Little Lady”) of Freedom. She delighted in the lives and activities of great grandchildren, Tristan, and Acadia Choi of Portland. To the family’s amusement, they both picked up her favorite swear word, “Sugar tit!”

Hazel’s parents, husband and five sisters, Myrtle MacDonald, Marjorie Wales, Rita Reynolds, Velma Bradeen and Louise Lanphier, predeceased her. During her last days she was trying to communicate with them.

She was an avid reader and loved to play “Hand-in-Foot,” card games, especially with surviving niece and partner, Faylene (MacDonald) Reynolds of Unity. Hazel had a deep faith in God, which was the basis of her kindness, faithfulness, generosity and love for her cats, family and neighbors.

For the past year and a half, she was blessed by the caring staff at Halldale Manor in Farmingdale where her competitive spirit in their activities and games earned her the nickname “Hazel the Hustler.” Her long life was rich and a gift to the family and community.

Everyone is invited to pay their respects at visiting hours at Springvale Farm, 52 Pleasant St. in Freedom, on Friday afternoon, Aug. 19, from 4 to 6 p.m.

A funeral service will be held at Freedom Congregational Church on Saturday, Aug. 20, at 4 p.m. with the Rev. John Balicki and Pastor Paul Flynn officiating. A reception and traditional Saturday night bean supper for everyone will be served back at the farm.

Private burial will be in the family grave site at Pleasant Hill Cemetery at a later date.

Those who wish to do so are encouraged to make a contribution to Freedom Community Historical Society toward the restoration of Keen Hall, the former Freedom Academy (Hazel’s alma mater) Principal’s House: FCHS, P.O. Box 52, Freedom, ME 04941.

Arrangements are in the care of Lawry Brothers Funeral Home, 107 Main St., Fairfield, where memories may be shared, and an online register book signed, by visiting lawrybrothers.com.

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