Gladys Ethel Hazelwood Berger

October 21, 1918 - June 25, 2019
Gladys Ethel Hazelwood Berger


Gladys Ethel Hazelwood Berger passed away peacefully in her sleep at home on June 25 2019 at 1,208 months old. Even though she was “not but 100” she often remarked on changes she had witnessed across her long life: from horse drawn buggies to cars, from a one-room schoolhouse to college, from postcards and letters to telephones, and then to email and texts, from face-to face-visits to FaceTime.

Ethel lived a long and healthy life due in part to her upbringing and lifestyle choices. Her parents and seven siblings raised, planted, or caught their food on family property on Hicks Island, near Lanexa VA. Her father, James Volasca “Volly” Hazelwood, a hardworking carpenter and fisherman, and her mother, Tabiatha Ann Hicks “Tabbie” Hazelwood, saw to it that their family and others in the community never were without food.

As a young woman, Ethel loved to dance. She enjoyed dressing up and cutting a rug at the Yorktown USO. However, she never failed to go to church on Sunday at Liberty Baptist. She was full of faith, loved the Lord, and talked to Jesus her entire life. She went to college in 1938 and soon after joined the Richmond workforce. At 23, she met and married Jesse Woodrow William Berger. They raised two sons, William Randolph Berger and Eugene Temple Berger; the family attended Falling Creek Baptist Church in Richmond. For most of her career, she worked in payroll for the Virginia State Police. In her spare time, Ethel enjoyed gardening and sewing and cooking enough food to feed “forty-eleven” people; she was famous for her delicious dinner rolls.

Ethel was preceded in death by her husband and both sons whom she missed intensely; especially in her later years. After Jesse’s death, at 72 she left Richmond and returned to Hicks Island to a home she designed and built at the top of the hill overlooking Diascund Creek. Being nearer to her family and back on Diascund Creek where she and her siblings grew up brought her such joy. There she spent 25 years in fellowship with family and dear friends at Liberty Baptist Church. Truly, although retired from the State Police, she never stopped working-whether in the kitchen, in her yard, or at her sewing machine. At the tender age of 97, she moved to Wilmington NC to be with her three granddaughters Sybil Deas Berger, Amanda Gibbs Berger, and Paris Ingraham Berger—there she finally allowed herself to be waited on!

Ethel is survived by her sister Lucille Hazelwood Otey and sister-in-law Bessie Lee Cecil Hazelwood and numerous other Hazelwood, Hicks, Otey, Smith, and Berger cousins, nieces, nephews, along with grands and great-grands. Her faith, wit, courage, tenacity, and style will be missed by all who knew her.

Celebration of her life, followed by lunch and fellowship at Liberty Baptist Church in Lanexa, Virginia, will be held Saturday July 27 2019 at 11 am. Interment will be private at Greenwood Memorial Gardens in Richmond, VA.

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Wilmington Funeral & Cremation 1535 S. 41st Street Wilmington, NC 28403 910.791.9099.


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