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Hazel Crain

PRINCETON — Hazel Mae Crain, 86, of Princeton passed away Sunday, Jan. 13, 2013, at Perry Memorial Hospital in Princeton.

She was born March 22, 1926, in Princeton, Bureau County, the only child of Arthur and Pearl (Tunis) Crain. She completed elementary, grades and high school in Henry.

Dr. Crain spent 42 years in education. After receiving the baccalaureate degree from Northern Illinois State Teachers College in DeKalb, she taught home economics in Libertyville, Bradley and Geneva high schools for eight years, She earned a Master of Education in Vocational Education from Colorado A&M, Fort Collins, in 1954, and then began teaching at the college level there.

From 1956 to 1958, was a missionary for the Board of Foreign Missions (Congregational Church) in Turkey, teaching and serving as dean of the Orta School at American Kiz Lisesi, Uskudar, Istanbul, Turkey. She brought a foster daughter, Senel Tuzun (Aksu) with her when she returned home. Senel graduated from Henry High School and the University of Nebraska before returning to Turkey.

Upon returning home, in 1958, Hazel joined the faculty of Southern Illinois University, Carbondale, and taught summer sessions at Colorado State University. In 1962, she joined the faculty of the University of Nebraska — Lincoln (UNL), but continued to teach summer sessions in Colorado for five years. After earning the Doctor of Philosophy degree from Colorado State University in 1970, she was invited to participate in a summer institute, "Women in Educational Leadership," at the University of Michigan. She became the director of the Center for BUsiness and Vocational Teacher Eduction at UNL, continuing to move through several organizational changes to retire as the chairman of the Department of Vocational and Adult (Teacher) Education UNL in 1989. During her tenure she was awarded more than $1 million in grants and contracts from state and national sources for research and development, including the coordination of all Vocational Teacher Education program in Nebraska. She was instrumental in establishing a formal relationship between her department and East China Normal University in Shanghai, China.

During college, she was a member of honor societies in home economics, education, science and drama. Currently, she was a member of Delta Kappa Gamma, an honorary for women educators. During her professional career she received honors and awards including: Outstanding Vocational Educator from both Nebraska and American Vocational Associations; Honorary Member of Future Homemakers of America; Scholarship Fund Honoree from Home Economics Division, AVA; scholarship from Delta Kappa Gamma; and the Sue Tidball Award for Creative Humanity at UNL.

As an active member of professional organizations, Dr. Crain served as an officer in several organizations, including: Nebraska and American Vocational Associations (vice president), Nebraska (president) and American Home Economics Associations, American Vocational Teacher Education Association (president). She also served as president of the National Board of Directors for the Future Homemakers of America.

She was a member of the Danish Sisterhood of America and the Bureau County Genealogical Society. She was a member of Open Prairie United Church of Christ.

Surviving are cousins; Senel Aksu's family; her extended "family" of close friends from Turkey, Denmark, China, Thailand and the U.S.A.; and her longtime companion, Dr. Esther Bennett.

Cremation rites have been accorded. A memorial service will be at 10 a.m. Friday at the Open Prairie United Church of Christ, Princeton, with the Rev. Mary Gay McKinney officiating. Burial will be in Greenwood Cemetery in Bureau.

There will be no visitation.

Memorials may be directed to Open Prairie UCC, 25 E. Marion St., Princeton, IL 61356; or to the Dr. Hazel Crain Fund at the University of Nebraska Foundation, 1010 Lincoln Mall, Suite 300, Lincoln, NE 68508.

Online condolences may be left at

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