Beginning with her childhood in Fort Worth at the turn of the century, J’Nell Pate chronicles Hazel’s troubled marriage to Grover Leigh, her bitter rivalry with Panther Boys’ Club director Martha Justice, the Great Depression, World War II, her college days at TCU, and her intense commitment to boys’ club work.
Though she had no children of her own, Hazel became a strict yet caring “mother” to thousands of young men through her involvement in the Panther Boys’ Club and Fort Worth Boys’ Club. She worked with the Kiwanis Club and Dr. Abe Greines, chair of the Kiwanis committee on underprivileged children. Throughout the years, Hazel kept in touch with many former members of the club, and she saw boys join the club whose fathers had been members when it first opened. Hazel made an impact by encouraging boys to develop their talents and pursue their dreams, whether that meant art instruction or accordion lessons. Several, such as football player Yale Lary and race-car driver Johnny Rutherford, went on to do great things.
Hazel proved to be a strong-willed individual who ceaselessly fought to make the Fort Worth Boys’ Club a part of the Boys’ Clubs of America and to keep girls out of the club. Though she wasn’t always popular with everyone, she was well respected because of her devotion to her cause.
Published for the Fort Worth Public Library.
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Published by Texas Christian University Press