By Stephen W. Hiemstra
Hazel Fern [Deacon] Hiemstra, known to her friends as Billie, was born October 10, 1930 in Guelph, Ontario Canada and passed into the glory of our Lord July 25, 2020. Up until her hospitalization for cancer on July 13th, she lived at her home in Falls Church, Virginia. She was the daughter of Richard Henry and Marietta [Salter] Deacon of Guelph.
She Is survived by her husband, Dr. Stephen James Hiemstra and three of her four children: Stephen Wayne, Karen Lee [Reed], and John David. Her four child, Diane Sue, passed on February 12, 2007.
Hazel also has grandchildren: Christine Nousheen, Marjolijn Narsis, and Stephen Reza Arash, children of Stephen Wayne and Maryam [Hajatpour] Hiemstra. William Brandts, son of Diane Sue and Hugo Brandts. Alexander James Reed son of Karen Lee Reed and Brian Malvan. Frank Henry, Jessica Anne, John Robert, and Lauren Nicole children of John David and Julie [Oweis] Hiemstra.
Mom met the love of her life, Dad, roller skating in Guelph. They were married a year later on September 13, 1952. The following year while Dad served in the Air Force in Korea, Mom lived with his family on farm near Oskaloosa, Iowa. Later, Mom became a naturalized, U.S. citizen.
Billie was Hazel’s stage name from her days of singing with an orchestra as a young person. Among her children she was known to play popular songs taken from musicals like Oklahoma and South Pacific and hymns, especially those made famous by George Beverly Shea, who sang for the Billy Graham Crusades. When Dad was a doctoral student at University of California at Berkley, Mom and Dad volunteered for the California crusades. Our pastor at First Presbyterian Church of Berkley was Robert Boyd Munger who later joined the faculty at Fuller Theological Seminary and was made famous for a sermon: My Heart-Christ’s Home.
Mom spent her entire life caring for family, supporting Dad in his career, and being active in her church, most recently Lewinsville Presbyterian Church in McLean, Virginia. Mom was proud of her mission work in Washington DC when we were young and as a nurse’s assistant at Vinson Hall Retirement Center in McLean, Virginia when we were older. She would also frequently recount the different fellowship groups that she founded in the church over the years.
In view of the corona virus pandemic, a brief outdoor internment service for local family members is planned at the church. Details are being handled by Murphy Funeral Home in Falls Church, Virginia. A memorial service will be held next year once the pandemic has passed.
Mom’s favorite bible passage is also known as the Shema:
Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. (Deut 6:4-5 ESV)
In Judaism, the Shema, which in Hebrew means name, is used as a daily prayer. Mom was raised as a Baptist, but became a Presbyterian in marriage.
The details of my Mom and Dad’s life are chronicled in Dad’s memoir: My Travel Through Life: Memoir of Family Life and Federal Service, which is available online.