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Obituary Stories

Former tourism chief had history at heart

Jeff Himler

Western Pennsylvania’s frontier spirit was alive in Hazel Adams, and she made history come alive for many others.

“She gave speeches all around Westmoreland County about pioneer life in the early days,” said her son, Mark, who added she donned period garb she’d crafted when giving a talk. “She was always interested in history.”

Hazel F. Adams of Greensburg died Saturday, June 18, 2016, in the Greensburg Care Center, where she’d battled multiple myeloma. She was 93.

Director of Westmoreland County’s tourism office and later a Laurel Highlands Visitors Bureau staffer, Mrs. Adams coordinated 1976 Bicentennial events in the county and was involved in the area Appalachian Wagon Train trek.

An amateur violinist, she founded and organized the Old Time Fiddlers Contest at the annual Westmoreland Arts and Heritage Festival until advancing years curtailed her involvement and prompted her to turn to quilting.

“The contest was her pride and joy,” said festival board member Sue Bebin of Latrobe. “She would always dress in an old-time dress, and she would be the emcee.”

Mrs. Adams began her career running a stenography and notary public business and ended it hosting Lincoln Coach Lines bus tours to such destinations as Branson, Mo. She arranged trips to Pittsburgh Opera performances through the Westmoreland Opera Guild.

She was active with the West-moreland County Historical Society and that group’s reconstruction of buildings at Hanna’s Town, the first county seat.

Daughter Dana George of Greensburg recalled how her mother staged a play about a pivotal 1782 attack on Hanna’s Town and recruited her and her horse to be part of the cast: “I rode off to get help,” she said of her role.

Inspired by a family friend whose child suffered from the disease, Mrs. Adams served as director of a local Muscular Dystrophy Association chapter and organized trips for young patients to Pittsburgh Pirates baseball games.

“She always gave 110 percent for whatever she got involved in,” her son said.

Mrs. Adams is survived by five children, Lewis of Irwin, Mark and his wife, Barbara, of Atlanta, Ga., Margaret “Peggy” Sterner of Greensburg, Dana George and her husband, Dennis, of Greensburg, and Janey C. Adams of Wagga Wagga, New South Wales, Australia; 13 grandchildren; 23 great-grandchildren; and several great-great-grandchildren.

A funeral service will be held at 10:30 a.m. Thursday at First Evangelical Lutheran Church, 246 S. Main St., Greensburg. Interment will be in Union Cemetery, Hempfield.

Leo M. Bacha Funeral Home, 516 Stanton St., Greensburg, was in charge of arrangements.

Jeff Himler is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724-836-6622 or [email protected].

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