In Memoriam: Katherine S. Hazen

Katherine Hazen
Katherine Hazen

Katherine S. Hazen, 1905 - 2003

It is with sadness that I inform you of the passing away of Katherine S. Hazen (1905-2003), the mother of AAVSO Secretary Martha Hazen and a long-time AAVSO friend and Headquarters volunteer, on November 19, 2003, at the age of 98.

Katherine came to the AAVSO in 1980 through Martha, who told Director Janet Mattei her mother was looking for a volunteer activity after the death of her husband and wondered if there might be something she could do at the AAVSO. Janet said she thought there was, and a wonderful relationship was born.

With Katherine's background in science (she graduated from Mt. Holyoke College in 1926 with a degree in chemistry), world travels and many years in the university setting through her husband's career, extensive experience with fundraising as a class agent for Mt. Holyoke, and cheerful willingness to help with any project going, there were countless activities and projects at Headquarters - large and small - that benefited from her expertise, including plotting variable star observations on the light curves (which we did by hand until the early 1990's), digitizing the information database on over 4,500 observers, tracking contributions to the association, checking observer totals and initials, and mailings to the members and observers. Also, I know Janet highly valued and appreciated Katherine's great wisdom and sound thinking in the many conversations they had about the AAVSO and other subjects.

Katherine also contributed very generously to the association financially over the years, for which generosity we are most grateful.

We all looked forward to Katherine's visits, not only because of her hard work, but also because she always brightened our day with her cheery smile and voice, her caring, forthright, and feisty personality and style, and her great and varied stories.

Katherine had lived for several years in the Middle East, and so, when we celebrated her 80th birthday at Headquarters, our party featured a Turkish belly-dancer with "Happy Birthday Katherine" written across her svelte and gyrating middle. Katherine loved it, as did the drivers who came to a squealing halt on Concord Avenue at the sight through our windows!

Her wonderful poetry tickled and touched us, and covered such varied and AAVSO-relevant topics as observers, variable stars, receiving her own key to Headquarters, and the 83rd birthday potluck supper we gave her.

After Katherine "retired" from the AAVSO after more than 11 years of dedicated volunteer service, we were always delighted to welcome her back to AAVSO meetings, pizza lunches, and holiday events at Headquarters whenever she could join us - it was always a joy to see her.

A Memorial Service for Katherine will be held at Brookhaven at Lexington (the retirement community in which Katherine lived), 1010 Waltham St., Lexington, Massachusetts, on Wednesday, November 26, 2003, at 11 a.m. Katherine's family has indicated that, in lieu of flowers, memorial tributes may be sent in her memory to the Alumnae Annual Fund, Mt. Holyoke College, 50 College St., South Hadley, MA 01075. We will create a web page in memorium to Katherine on the AAVSO web site, and we invite friends to share their thoughts of her. Notes for Katherine's family and/or the web page may be sent to AAVSO Headquarters or e-mailed to the AAVSO.

We have always been grateful to Martha for introducing her mother and the AAVSO to each other. Katherine said that the AAVSO was a life-saver for her; we know that our lives were greatly enriched by Katherine, and we cherished knowing her.

— Elizabeth O. Waagen



Thoughts of a Very Variable Volunteer

I give a toast to variables —
     The observers, NOT the stars.
Amateurs or astronomers
     Your union knows no bars.

You vary in your home towns,
     Your sex, your size, your age.
You use binoculars or scope.
     To find a Nova is the rage.

You pop into the office
     By impulse or by plan.
You linger or you hasten on.
     The bus is handy if you run!

You want to see the building;
     You want to meet the staff;
You want to chat with Janet.
     That isn't all by half.

You're awed by our computers,
     Our office space so gracious,
The library's peace and quiet,
     And the storage rooms are spacious.

Your data clog our pipelines.
     We love it! Send in more!
We chew them up, record them,
     And digest them by the score.

Keep up the work! Stay up all night!
     May darkened skies be always bright
With many variables in sight.
     And may your estimates be right!

— Katherine S. Hazen


Hail to My Shiny Office Key!
(an unpolished poem)

Nine years of hard labor
     brought you to me.

You turn to the right
     to open up the office bright.

There warmth and welcome
     from wonderful friends,
And plenty of work that never ends,

Keep me alert and full of cheer--
     Enough to last all through the year.

And OH! that party. What a treat.
     The Spanish rice, the pasta dish,
     the rolls the wine, the balls of meat,
     the chicken noodles and chocolate cake.
     the empenados, flowers, and gifts galore
     appeared by magic at my door.

All this because I'm eighty-four!

I love you all. I love the key,
It really does belong to me.

And I belong to you, You see,
It's you that keeps me going.
     (ask Martha!)

Katherine S. Hazen

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