Though Hazel has been honored for many accomplishments over the years, his most recent was his role in the development of White Pine Commons, a 32-unit affordable housing development on Wallace Hill Road. The JCEO honored Hazel last October by naming the development's community center after him during a special ceremony.
"Quite frankly, he had enormous accomplishments throughout his tenure and White Pine Commons was certainly a significant accomplishment," said Garcia. "But, when you look at his overall body of work during the 18 years he was [at JCEO], it's incredible."
John C. Bernardi, executive director of the United Way of Clinton and Essex Counties, agreed. The United Way honored Hazel with the Dorothy and Alan Booth Distinguished Citizen Award last February, crediting him for his role with the JCEO and for being a past chairman of the United Way's fundraising campaign team.
"Gordy really committed himself to the health and human service network in this region," said Bernardi. "The overall growth of the JCEO was a reflection of his vision and his leadership. JCEO was effectively able to serve many more people throughout the region during his tenure."
Bernardi recalled Hazel as "a good friend" he had known for "a number of years." One of Bernardi's fondest memories of Hazel was when he was looking to buy a boat, and Hazel invited him to go out onto the lake on his boat.
"He invited me and my whole family. It was a lot of fun and I learned a lot about boating from him because he was an avid boater," said Bernardi. "That was about 10 years ago, but I'll always remember that cruise on the lake."
"Gordy was a true gentleman, a very kind, very bright guy," Bernardi continued. "He lived every day of his life during his illness with an incredible amount of positive energy, dignity and a zest for living. I really respect him in a number of ways. He's someone who's an example to all of us."