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Wharff, Hazel Hatch, 90, of Des Moines, died peacefully on Sunday, February 18, 2018, at Wesley Acres Health Center. She was born May 25, 1927, on the family homestead farm near Avon, Illinois, the fourth child of Walter and Marie (Fennessy) Hatch.
Hazel was valedictorian of Avon High School Class of 1945 and Monmouth College (IL) Class of 1949. She played the flute, enjoyed marching band and choir, joined several clubs or honor societies including Pi Beta Phi and Sigma Omicron Mu, and served on yearbook staff in both high school and college. She is believed to be the first Monmouth College woman to win a championship in a national competition, scoring a near-perfect 499x500 in the 1948 National Individual Women’s Championship in rifle. She was inducted into Monmouth College’s Athletic Hall of Fame in 1984.
On November 6, 1949, at the Federated Church of Avon, Hazel married Monmouth classmate Keith W. Wharff, a WWII U.S. Army Air Corps veteran from Newton, IA. Pursuing Keith’s career in business sales and service, they lived in several midwestern cities. Daughter Anne was born in Springfield, IL. Daughter Carol was born in Dayton, OH. Mary, David, and Julia were born in Normal, IL. The “Normal” chapter is especially precious in family memory, since Anne graduated from high school just as the family moved to Marion, IA; thus, it is the only home where all seven Wharffs resided together. After 32 years in Marion, failing health caused Keith and Hazel to move to Wesley Acres in Des Moines, where Keith died January 26, 2004.
Before raising five children, Hazel worked in personnel for D’Arcy Advertising Company. Hazel relished raising a family and considered it a calling, encouraging growth through active participation in school, sports, music, church, and civic opportunities.
Hazel was also an active citizen. She volunteered for school PTAs, booster clubs and bond issues, for voter registration and elections, and for Republican Party local efforts. Hazel served on the committees that established Granger House Museum and Hilltop Manor (low-income senior housing), both in the Cedar Rapids metro area. Although she was ordained an Elder in First Presbyterian Church of Marion, leading mission outreach efforts, we believe Hazel’s favorite church assignment was as Three-year-old Sunday School teacher for Second Presbyterian Church, Bloomington IL. Ever seeking ways to improve the community, Hazel even spearheaded a campaign in her senior care community, to make the Courtyard garden more accessible for the disabled.
Gradually returning to employment once the children were all in school, Hazel worked five years as a part-time Linn-Mar High School education aide. In 1979 she joined the district congressional staff of former U.S. Representative Tom Tauke, serving as a Caseworker, then as Senior Liaison. The pinnacle of her professional life came in advocating for a Cedar Rapids family, which led to the Katie Beckett Medicaid Waiver, federal legislation benefitting more than half a million disabled children and their families since its passage in 1982. (Go ahead, google it!)
Hazel is preceded in death by her husband of 54 years, Keith W. Wharff, as well as her parents, her sister Martha Hatch, brothers Harold, Henry and W. Jerome Hatch; sisters-in-law Gretchen Wharff and Donna Hatch; brother-in-law Donald Wharff. She is survived by children Anne M. Wharff of Springfield IL, Carol W. Dorr (Doug) of St. Peters MO, Mary G. Wharff (Andy Bloomer) of Lawrence KS, David H. Wharff of Urbandale IA, and Julia Wharff Piermont (Dennis) of Dublin OH; grandchildren Megan Wharff Kavanaugh (Nicholas) of Des Moines, and Conner Wharff of Iowa City; step-grandchildren Hunter (Alison), Evan, and Anna Piermont; step-great-grandchildren Jackson and Charles Piermont; sister-in-law Mildred Hatch; five nieces and one nephew.
A memorial service and reception will be held on Friday, April 27, 2018, 11:00 a.m. at First Presbyterian Church, 802 12th St, Marion, IA. A committal service will be held Saturday, April 28, 2018, 11:00 a.m. at Avon Cemetery, on Illinois Rte 41 south of Avon, IL. Memorials may be made to Monmouth College (Development Office, 700 E Broadway, Monmouth IL 61462); Granger House Victorian Museum (970 – 10th Street, Marion, IA 52302); or Cure Alzheimer’s Fund (34 Washington Street, Suite 200, Wellesley Hills, MA 02481).