Hazel Williams (Beswick) wife of David Beswick died 10 December 2019

Hazel was born at Cheltenham, England, the youngest child of Clarence and Minnie Barton, 13 June 1935, with a brother Hugh and sister Pam. In her school years she was involved in the junior Red Cross and was encouraged to enter the nursing profession, for which she trained at Birmingham 1953-57. After graduation she emigrated to the US and worked as a nurse there, first in New Jersey. During this time, in 1959, Hazel married Ron Williams, a Methodist minister from Geelong studying at Drew University.

They then moved to Boston while Ron worked for his doctorate at Boston University and as a part time pastor at East Templeton, Mass. Hazel was employed as a nurse in Boston and later at Gardener, Mass. Their first two children, Sara and Drew, were born during this time. Ron was appointed the first Principal of Rarongo Theological College near Rabaal, Papua New Guinea, and they travelled there via Melbourne and Sydney at the beginning of 1964. They had two more children, Barton and Simon, while at Rarongo and travelled several times to the UK. Hazel worked in the District Health office in Rabaal before moving with Ron to Lae, PNG, in 1977, returning to Australia at the beginning of 1980 when Ron was appointed to ministry at Croydon, Vic.

Hazel had a significant role at Rarongo, besides being the wife of the Principal, in two important respects. Together with another nurse, Barbara Taylor, who was also the wife of a lecturer at the college, she provided basic medical care, which included daily consultations, in a community in which there was no medical doctor. She also contributed to the work of the college by working with the young women on pastoral leadership. They were mostly wives of the students, and a few who began to prepare for ministry themselves.

When they were on leave in the UK Hazel began studies for a degree in social sciences which was later completed as an external student of the Western Australia Institute of Technology. They lived in Lae, PNG, for three years in the late 1970s while Ron was in local ministry work and Hazel also worked on a United Nations project before they returned to Australia. During this time Sara and Drew attended boarding school in Victoria. Ron came back to a ministry appointment at Croydon from 1980. Hazel later completed a post-graduate diploma in health-education which contributed to her work for the council of churches on attitudes to the developing epidemic of HIV-AIDS. During this time Hazel was also involved in the exploration of new and alternative forms of ministry.

Ron died in 1983 of a sudden heart attack at about the time that Hazel began her later professional career as a manager of day hospitals, therapy centres and aged care facilities, while still caring for her children who were completing school and going on to University.

In 2002 Hazel married David Beswick after his wife Joan died. David was a friend of Ron at Queen’s College in the 1950s and was best man at the wedding of Ron and Hazel at Northport, New York. He was studying at Harvard when Ron and Hazel were also in the Boston area. The two couples kept in contact in the subsequent years.

Hazel who had her own home with her family at Croydon moved in 1994 to a new house at Parkdale of which Barton was the architect and which became the home of David and Hazel in addition to the home at Wesburn where David and Joan had retired in the Upper Yarra Valley. In the 17 years of their marriage Hazel and David have travelled throughout Australia and overseas. They worshipped for most of that time at Beaumaris Uniting Church where Hazel’s funeral service is being held.

Hazel was a strong independent woman of faith from her youth right up to the end of her long struggle with cancer, greatly admired and much loved by the many who knew her.