Our Grandma Mazie
Our community lost a dear friend over the weekend. Everyone who came near Mazie Hyland was impacted by her bigger-than-life presence. Ms. Mazie, as she was called by many of her friends, was originally from Corning Arkansas. She and her husband, Howard, moved to Poplar Bluff from California in 1983. This lady was no shrinking violet. She was “the boss” for an oil company she worked for in Bakersfield before returning to the area to help care for her elderly parents. She is fondly remembered by many as “the boss” wherever she worked or volunteered. Her personality was large, her heart was kind, and she walked into your life with every conversation. Most recently, she volunteered at Physician’s Park Primary Care/Black River Medical Facility (Coppertop), greeting all who entered the building and helping people get to where their appointments required them to be.
Mazie came into my family’s life in 1999 when we moved into our home on Fox Drive. She and the love of her life, Howard, lived just across the street. Over the course of those next six years she and Howard became our two sons’ “Grandma Mazie and Grandpa Howard.” One lazy Saturday afternoon my wife, Toni, went to the store leaving me to watch the boys. I fell asleep on the couch in front of the TV and awoke to my doorbell ringing. I opened the door to see a grinning Mazie holding the hand of my little 3 year old, Jack. Apparently in the absence of my attention he decided to go see Grandma Mazie so he walked across the street, pulled himself up the wrought-iron screen door and began repeatedly ringing her doorbell. Mazie opened the door, looked down, and saw smiling “little Jackie.” She and Howard invited him in for hugs, cookies and 3-year-old chit chat. When Mazie asked him where his mother was, Jack explained that she was at the store and his dad was asleep. Mazie and Howard were so tickled by their brave little grandson’s visit but knew she’d best make sure dad knew his whereabouts.
Mazie told this story every time she had the chance, even last week on the phone with Toni. She also loved recalling how her Ben came to Grandma Mazie’s house when his tummy hurt because she’d put a heating pad on his belly and hold him in her rocking chair. Mazie could never be out-loved. Ben had a lot of tummy aches, but they disappeared if Mazie wasn’t home.
When Howard passed away in 2010, Mazie struggled to recover from the heartbreak of losing her life-long partner. She was always loving and gracious, but it was easy to see that life had been much sweeter with Howard by her side. Even still she lived an active life through her church and work.When Mazie read about Open Access and my fight with the City in the paper, she called us immediately and asked how she could help. She wanted hers to be the first signature on the petition so we made sure she got her way. After all, as another dear friend of Mazie’s lovingly joked, you don’t say “no” to Mazie!
Mazie provided our family such staunch support and love during this whole struggle, we’d be hard-pressed to find a stronger ally in our corner. As we neared the end of the petition drive and found out that city leaders were going to ignore the will of the people, Mazie wanted to record one of the “Let PB decide” videos. She was a like a momma bear when it came to our family.
In 2012 it was no surprise that Mazie was honored as Region 10 finalist for Outstanding Older Worker of the Year for her tireless volunteer work at Coppertop. When COO Christy Montgomery was asked by the DAR reporter about Mazie she said, “Mazie is an 86 year old spitfire who works 40+ hours a week with the energy of someone half her age. [She] is one of the kindest people you will ever meet. She greets each of our employees, physicians, patients and patients’ family members with her warm smile and sweet spirit.” Mazie loved people. She loved that job where she could meet people, encourage patients, uplift sad hearts and remain such an integral part of community life in Poplar Bluff. She was at work on Friday doing what she loved; making the lives of everyone she met just a little better.
Mazie passed away over the weekend at her home. “We will miss her” is an understatement. She loved us well and we loved her. But we know that she is with her beloved Howard now and with Jesus whom she loved and served all of her life.
This Saturday at Temple Baptist Church, those who knew Mazie and Howard will be gathering at 10am for visitation and 11am for a service. Please come and join the celebration of her 88 years on this earth and her eternal life in Jesus. Her two adopted grandsons will sing as we say goodbye to one of the most amazing treasures ever placed on this earth.