Arlington's Hazel Ryan turns 100

Donna Huglen, left, and Patty Vance, right, flank their mother, Hazel Ryan, during her 100th birthday party. - Kirk Boxleitner
Donna Huglen, left, and Patty Vance, right, flank their mother, Hazel Ryan, during her 100th birthday party.
— image credit: Kirk Boxleitner

STANWOOD — Longtime Arlington native Hazel Ryan was surrounded by friends and family at the Warm Beach Senior Community as they celebrated her centennial birthday on Sunday, March 25, just a few days before she actually turned 100 years old.

Hazel was born in Groton, S.D., on March 29, 1912, and around about her eighth grade year, she finally joined the rest of her family in moving to Washington. Since he married Hazel's daughter Donna, Howard Huglen has become an unofficial historian of Ryan's life, and explained how the men in Hazel's family came out to Chehalis in 1925 to find work in the mills. After staying with her married older sister for a year, Hazel joined them in 1926.

"That's where she met her future husband, Mickey," Howard Huglen said. "He was a meat-cutter from Canada, and they got married in Vancouver."

Although Hazel and Mickey's first two sons, John and Mickey Jr., were born in Chehalis, daughters Patty and Donna weren't born until after the family had moved to Arlington in 1939.

"Hazel and Mickey opened up their own meat-cutting shop called Arlington Cold Storage," Howard Huglen said. "If you had a cow, they could do custom cutting and wrapping for it, as well as serving retail meat."

Hazel's daughters recall hunters bringing in deer they'd shot, which their father would not only cut and wrap, but could also keep in large rental meat freezer lockers. Mickey and Hazel's shop even cured ham and made bacon.

"You wouldn't believe the smell," Donna Huglen said.

"The building is still there, just north of where City Hall is now," Howard Huglen said.

Although Mickey Sr. passed away in 1969 and Mickey Jr. passed on just last year, after his older brother John departed in 1997, Hazel has kept on going, which her surviving daughters attribute to a combination of luck and healthy living.

"She never smoked or drank," Patty Vance said. "She loved to bowl, and she kept on walking in her 80s and 90s like someone who was 30 years younger."

Donna recalled how Hazel bowled with the "Killough Cleaners" team and made meals for the local Lions Club once a month.

"She would bake things for the other women of Arlington around Christmastime," said Donna Huglen, who noted that her mother also put her cooking skills to good use at more than one restaurant in downtown Arlington.

"She's always been a hard worker," Patty Vance said. "Her epitaph would say that she was never afraid of work. She lived through the Depression and has always been a giving person. She loved her family and wanted to make sure we never had to live like she did."

Hazel Ryan has 11 grandchildren, 12 great-grandchildren and five great-great-grandchildren.

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