Hazel Loomis Freedman died Friday, November 29, 2019, at her home in Dewey, Montana, after a long and brave contest against cancer. Over the course of a life embodying dignity, grace, humor, and generosity, Hazel dedicated herself to creating beauty in the world, and bestowing warmth and affection on all she knew and loved.
Born in Great Falls to Leal and Delora (Nottingham) Loomis, Hazel grew up in a large family, moving frequently, following farm and ranch work across the state of Montana. On her father’s side, her forebears were English immigrants who settled Connecticut in 1638 before moving slowly westward. On her mother’s side, she descended from the earliest farmers along the Highwood. She inherited a pioneer spirit of determination, self-discipline, and ingenuity. She loved animals, family, gardening and cooking. Her soul found peace and inspiration in the Montana landscape, especially the quiet grandeur of the Missouri Breaks near Fort Benton, where she had spent part of her childhood, and in the green meadows and snow-capped mountains of the Big Hole, where she spent her last years.
For over twenty years, Hazel worked as an administrator and analyst for the Department of Defense in Great Falls, Goldsboro, North Carolina, Las Vegas, Nevada, and Los Angeles, California, before taking early retirement with her husband, Paul Freedman. Together they established a rural retreat in Florissant, Colorado, where Hazel tended goats, sheep, chickens, and geese, and cared for her cherished cats, dogs, and tropical birds. In 2007 she returned to Montana, settling in the Big Hole to be closer to family and friends. Gifted as a seamstress and in fine needlework, Hazel was also a preternaturally talented gardener, able to cultivate a verdant English garden and abundant vegetable beds despite the capriciousness of high-mountain soils and weather.
Among the people who loved her most, she leaves behind her husband of thirty-five years, Paul Freedman, and her sister, best friend, and caregiver, Alta Miller, of Dewey. Alta’s husband, Dana Miller, and son and daughter-in-law, Andy and Kathy Miller, were true friends and neighbors, who eased Hazel’s and Paul’s lives through countless acts of kindness.
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She is survived by her sister, Marzita Sundet (Carrol) of Darby, brothers Dean Loomis of Deer Lodge and Buck Loomis (Annegret) of Butte, as well as sisters-in law, Penny Loomis of Forsythe, and Cheryl Soskin of Whidbey Island, Washington. Her passing is deeply mourned by daughters Jeannette Redensek of Branford, Connecticut; Jonnie Dawn VanLandingham of Bozeman, son James Redensek of Las Vegas; and step-daughter Nickie Summers of Cummings, Georgia.
Hazel will be lovingly remembered by her grandchildren, Jamie McGregor (Mike), and Franklin, Joe, Jaelin, Jonnie Dawn, and Jim, all of Las Vegas, her great-grandchildren, and many nieces, nephews, grand-nieces, and grand-nephews. Hazel was preceded in death by her son, Joel Redensek of Redway, California, daughter Dolores Cooney of Butte, sister Sharon Holm of Butte, and brother Garner Loomis of Forsythe.
The family thanks Dr. James Hueftle and the staffs of Pintler Family Medicine and Anaconda Community Hospital for taking such good care of Hazel in life. We thank the staff and nurses of Highlands Hospice of Butte for helping her pass so peacefully. We are grateful to Big Hole neighbors Diane Reid and Linda Piercy for their help along the way, and to Amanda Newbreast of Butte for her caring help and constructive spirit during these difficult hours. There will be no services. The family will celebrate Hazel’s life in the spring of 2020, when the weather warms and the flowers once again bloom.