In Memoriam: Louis Phillip Hazel, Jr.
Louis Phillip Hazel, Jr., 79, of Statesville, slipped the surly bonds of earth on October 10, 2022, in Statesville, North Carolina.
He was born on December 1, 1942, in Charlotte, North Carolina, the son of the late Martha Alexander Hazel and Louis Phillip Hazel. Phil was a graduate of Myers Park High School and Davidson College.
He learned to fly while working at McDevitt and Street and Gilbert Engineering, and he never looked back. In 1978, when the local airport was little more than a shack and a few hangars, he founded Statesville Flying Service, Inc., and over the years, owned and operated the fixed base operations at Statesville Regional Airport, Hickory Regional Airport, and Mt. Airy Airport. He taught scores of people to fly. Under his leadership, the annual Carolina Balloonfest began to be held at the airport.
In 1981, Phil was listening to the UNICOM radio at the Statesville Airport when he heard a call for help from a panicked woman whose pilot-husband had died at the controls. He dashed to a plane and took to the skies, locating her plane and talking her through a safe landing as he flew behind her. For this remarkable feat he was awarded the Federal Aviation Administration Silver Medal, the Bronze Medal of Honor from the Civil Air Patrol, and a Special Achievement Award from the Davidson College Alumni Association Board and made appearances on That’s Incredible and The Today Show. [News of Davidson created a video with the audio of this life-saving flight. Please take the time to listen to this 20-minute video. It is amazing to hear this high flying rescue.]
He had a richly capacious mind and was a voracious reader. A true Renaissance man, his skills and interests included (but were not limited to): piloting all manner of aircraft, including gliders, jets and helicopters, golf, scuba diving, motorcycle time trials, cooking, genealogy, babysitting, skiing, pond building and maintenance, forestry, solar energy, home design, and operating a ham radio. In 1969, he won $500 and a set of encyclopedias on Jeopardy.
He took his obligation to the community seriously, serving in the U.S. Marine Corps, running for the Board of Education at age 27, and leading and serving on multiple boards over the course of his life, including the Statesville Chamber of Commerce, the Convention and Visitors’ Bureau, Fort Dobbs, the Statesville YMCA, Iredell Memorial Hospital, and Fifth Street Shelter Ministries. In the 1980s, he led the successful referendum campaign for “Liquor by the Drink,” which revitalized the local restaurant business.
Phil was the beloved husband of Pamela Huessy Hazel (formerly Pam Simon) whom he married in 1979, and father of Thomas Hazel (Stephanie Glaser) and Alice-Lyle Hickson (Stan), He had five grandchildren: R. Phillip Hazel, T. Alexander Hazel, Jr., Davis Hickson, Julia Hickson and William E. Hickson. William predeceased Phil, as did his sister, Beverly Hazel Ross. Survivors also include his first wife, Nancy Dorrier, numerous nieces and nephews, and too many cousins to count. He was a devoted husband, father, and grandfather; a loyal friend to many; and a generous, caring, and considerate boss, often working on major holidays so that his employees could be with their families.
A private celebration of life will be held at a later date.
Memorials may be sent to Hospice & Palliative Care of Iredell County, 2347 Simonton Road, Statesville, NC 28625; Friends of the Fort, 438 Fort Dobbs Road, Statesville, NC 28625; or the Alzheimer’s Association, 225 N. Michigan Ave., Fl. 17, Chicago, IL 60601.