October 1, 1950 - December 1, 2020
Myra Hazard 1950-2020 Most obituaries tend to idolize the dead. As soon as someone passes, they seem to instantaneously take on the characteristics of a storybook hero, becoming more myth than fact. But Myra Hazard, who is the subject of this obituary, wasn’t a perfect person. Myra Hazard was a real person. She was the Queen of Eye Rolls and—especially in her later years—an acerbic and cranky lady who was difficult to please. Pretty much anyone who knew her would agree that she was overly critical, rude, a know-it-all. She had no problem yelling at neighborhood children for “playing in her ditch,” and she was the worst, scariest driver in town. But Myra was also brave, tender-hearted, and brilliant. She was charismatic and dedicated—a force to be reckoned with. She devoted her life to helping children with cancer, she was an animal-lover, she was generous. In short, she was perfectly imperfect. When she departed, she left behind the legacy of a life well-lived. And Myra certainly lived. She even outsmarted Death himself a time or two. As a youth, Myra was a towheaded, roughhousing tomboy, and though she outgrew her tomboy phase, she never outgrew her boisterous one. The Adamsville girl broke out of what she considered an oppressive small town and went on to live in several big cities like Memphis and Boston. Myra was a traveler, going to other countries like Belgium and Saint Barts and vacationing in myriad locales all over the US. She stayed active for much of her life: throughout the 80s and 90s she was an avid windsurfer, a skilled scuba diver, a racquetball star, an aerobics maven (in a neon leotard, of course), a runner, and a weightlifter. A tanned and natural beauty, Myra could often be found lounging poolside in a bikini that would turn the heads of even the most chaste gentlemen. She looked very much like Princess Diana. Men fell in love with Myra, and Myra fell in love too—more than once—and she loved hard. Her love wasn’t perfect, and she didn’t always get it right. But she tried, and she succeeded more than she failed. She had two children, Jessie and Stephanie, and for most of their lives she was a single mother. Myra taught them to be capable, to be independent thinkers, to know they had worth. From her, they learned strength and sarcasm, wit and grace. As she battled through various health problems over her years, she showed them—and everyone else—what real courage looks like. Myra had a noble career as a nurse practitioner, practicing for 20+ years at St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital. This difficult work in turns both delighted and devastated her, as she frequently fell in love with the children under her care and was crushed when any one of them lost their fight. When the hospital announced that it would be requiring more education of its practitioners, Myra—who was already in her 40s and worked to the bone—rolled up her sleeves and dove into graduate school, emerging victorious with a master’s degree in pharmacology. Perhaps it wasn’t so surprising—always an intellectual, Myra was salutatorian of her high school and one of those hyper-driven geeks who studied hard in college. She once argued passionately with a professor who gave her a grade of 99 on a paper…she got him to change it to a 100. She was fan of crossword puzzles and trivia, and she was always in the middle of some book or another. She was competitive in all the right ways, and it was fun—and wise—to have her on your team during board games. As they do for each of us, a thousand other little things made Myra who she was. She was a lover of action movies, dogs, and Caprese salads; she hated morning people and insincerity. She adored WWE wrestling and Sylvester Stallone. Public displays of affection annoyed her. She ate so much peanut butter she should’ve bought stock in it. She was droll and cutting and affectionately self-deprecating. She was teased for her love of revolting food—black jellybeans and fruitcake were on her shortlist. She loved art and her home was filled with fun, eclectic treasures from all over the world. Myra had health scares her whole life, and she conquered them all. After surviving a car accident that very nearly killed her at 19, she went on to struggle in her 40s with a new mystery illness. Her plethora of symptoms perplexed doctors, who diagnosed her—sometimes accurately and sometimes not—with a wide variety of syndromes, diseases, and illnesses. She resolutely underwent experimental treatment plans and trial drugs. Even after that long slog, she couldn’t seem to catch a break. She was in a second horrific car accident at the age of 60 that bought her a coma and the loss of all motor functions. It seemed again that she wouldn’t make it, and all hope was lost. She surprised everyone, including her doctors, by recovering—she fought hard and kept living on her own terms. So, when she was diagnosed with lymphoma, everyone thought she’d just conquer that too. It seemed no illness was too big and bad for this indomitable woman...she was bigger and badder. Yet the cancer and subsequent treatment leached the vitality from her body; she couldn’t rally. At 70 years old, she entered the twilight of her lifetime. She knew she was bested and conceded with grace. Yes, she died, but she did even that on her own terms—she took her last breath peacefully in her home surrounded by loved ones. Myra always stayed up too late, usually reading a book. She’d tell herself she was just going to read one more chapter, which naturally turned into another chapter, and still another. She just had to turn the page and find out what happens next. And the book of Myra Hazard’s life is exactly like that. She has not come to the end but has simply turned the page and started a new chapter. Myra will be forever cherished by those who knew her. She is survived by her daughters and her sister Mary, as well as her brother-in-law, her nieces, her grand-nieces and nephews, and her grand-dog and grand-cat; who all know they will someday turn their own pages and find her there waiting for them. Due to COVID, the family will have a private ash-scattering ceremony, but they will not be holding a memorial. In lieu of flowers, they ask that donations be made in her name to the ASPCA.
Myra Hazard 1950-2020 Most obituaries tend to idolize the dead. As soon as someone passes, they seem to instantaneously take on the characteristics of a storybook hero, becoming more myth than fact. But Myra Hazard, who is the subject of this... View Obituary & Service Information
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