Barbara Hazelwood made sure her carrot cakes were unforgettable — she would cover them with thick mounds of frosting, plump them up with raisins and, if you were lucky, she would stir in some pineapple too.
“It was almost legendary,” said Hazelwood’s son, Darrell Hazelwood, a Newsday newsroom employee, as he recalled how people enjoyed his mother’s cooking and baking. “It was one of her dessert specialties.”
Hazelwood, 79, who lived in the Bronx her whole life, died at Lenox Hill Hospital in Manhattan on June 23 after battling cancer.
She graduated from Morris High School in the Bronx and attended City College for several years. She transferred to The College of New Rochelle where she earned a bachelor’s in business management in 1984.
Hazelwood was married to the late Melvin Hazelwood Jr. Their son Devenn, who also predeceased her, died at age 22 after being hurt while trying to stop a street fight.
For 35 years, Hazelwood worked for the New York City Housing Authority — starting as an account clerk in 1959 and holding a number of positions before rising to be manager of Mitchel Houses, a public housing development in the Bronx.
“I think she just enjoyed dealing with people” Hazelwood’s son Darrell said. “She knew the ins and outs of housing and she knew who to approach to correct certain problems for people in the area.”
Through her work, Hazelwood became an active member of Teamsters Local 237 in 1969, holding various positions in the union and becoming president of a retirees’ division in 1994.
Work was just a part of Hazelwood’s life, which she filled out with church work, Broadway plays, cruises, and traveling to such places as the West Indies, Italy and Alaska.
Her appreciation of Broadway led Hazelwood to take theater classes.
Her son recalled how his mother made sure he too valued theater — taking him to see Sammy Davis Jr. who played a boxer in the 1960s musical “Golden Boy” and James Earl Jones in “The Great White Hope.”
Recently, mother and son had seen “Eclipsed” on Broadway.
“That was the last production we saw together,” Darrell Hazelwood said.
Hazelwood was a member of the Delta Mu Zeta graduate chapter of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority in Manhattan.
She became interested in African-American military history after meeting her longtime partner, Samuel W. Phillips, who served as a brigadier general in the U.S. Army and predeceased her. She became a member of the 369th Historical Society in Harlem and served as its first chartered corresponding secretary.
At a time when some churches had trouble attracting people, Hazelwood attended two — Sound View Presbyterian and Holy Cross Catholic Church, both in the Bronx.
“My mother defined herself as a Catholic Presbyterian and a child of God,” her son said.
Hazelwood also was a member of the NAACP and the retirees chapter of the Association of Black Housing Officials, and served as president of Clason Point Gardens Resident Association.
A wake will be held Wednesday at Sound View Presbyterian Church in the Bronx from 5 to 8 p.m.
On Thursday a final viewing will be at the church at 10 a.m. with a funeral at 11 a.m. Burial will follow at St. Raymond’s Cemetery, also in the Bronx.