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Hazel Beatrice Gould.Courtesy of family

Hazel Beatrice Gould: Traveller. Martini lover. Businesswoman. Grandy. Born June 14, 1932, in Brownvale, Alta; died Aug. 5, 2021, in Squamish, B.C.; of heart failure; aged 89.

Hazel was born on the kitchen table of a farmhouse. She grew up doing farm chores, riding a horse to a one-room schoolhouse and playing the piano. She loved to curl up by the woodstove and read adventure books, never guessing the adventure her own life would bring.

Hazel was smart and skipped two grades. She graduated at 16 but had to wait to enter the University of Alberta so she spent a year pumping gas and doing the accounting for a local gas station.

Hazel loved university life and graduated with a bachelor of science specializing in math and physics. She dreamed of seeing the places she’d read about – Africa, Europe, Asia, Australia – and wanted a job to make enough money to travel.

She applied for a job in the oil patch and was hired by California Standard (Chevron). Hazel may have been the only female geophysicist on staff but she had no problem keeping up with the guys – her lifelong love of martinis started while working at Chevron.

In 1953, when she found out she was being paid less than her co-workers, she marched into her boss’s office, demanded equal pay and got it.

A year later, at 22, she took off to England with a girlfriend to see family and explore. She didn’t know that she would also fall in love.

Ray Gould was a civil engineer from Alberta working in England. He flew her to Paris in his small plane and by the time she got home they were planning a wedding.

They married in Calgary in 1955 and had a tough decision to make. Hazel and Ray worked for competing oil companies – one of them had to quit. Hazel chose to start a family but she wouldn’t stay out of the work force for long.

Linda, their first daughter, was born in 1957. But motherhood didn’t stop Hazel from opening a store two years later.

A clothing store was a logical choice. One summer, Hazel grew seven inches. At 14 and nearly six feet tall she towered over her parents. She had to wear men’s clothing or sew her own outfits and never forgot how that felt. With master negotiating, designing and team-building skills, she built the Tall Girl Shop in Calgary into an international chain. Ray became the accountant and eventually wrote the software for the company.

Over the next 10 years, two more children – Susan and Brian – were born and 45 stores were created over the next five decades.

Hazel worked hard. Her children remember being the last kids picked up at school. She would arrive with apologies, scoop the kids into the car and avoid the teacher’s glower. Then she’d drive to Dairy Queen for a treat. But she always made bedtime special. She curled up beside them to read stories and sing and say goodnight in five languages.

Work life and home life were also balanced with daily happy hour. Her oldest was taught to mix martinis at age 8. Ray would bring chips into the living room and call out, “Hazel, get in here and relax.” They talked about their day – stories about business, customers, bankers, landlords and suppliers. The kids learned a lot.

Travel was her other life-balancing resource. Hawaii and the Caribbean became favourite spots and she often took her store managers with her.

Hazel reluctantly sold her business in 2010 and retired with Ray to Victoria. When Ray died a year later, she would spend the last 10 years of her life hosting happy hours for family and friends. As “Grandy” to 10 grandchildren and great-grandchildren, she welcomed their visits and always wanted to hear what they were learning on the piano.

Hazel was a people person who always looked forward. She said there were no hardships that couldn’t be smoothed over with a martini and a vacation.

Linda Gould is Hazel’s eldest daughter.

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