Evelyn Gibbons Duncan Hassell, of Beaufort, died on Monday, July 8.
Evelyn was born in Beaufort on February 10, 1917, and lived 94 of her 96 ½ years there. Her parents were Olive and Graham Duncan. Evelyn lost her mother to childbirth when she was nine. A beautiful young woman, she was voted Miss Beaufort when she was a teenager. Evelyn graduated from Beaufort High School and soon married Gray Hassell, of Beaufort. Together they raised three children.
In her early years, Evelyn worked as a beautician. When she was in her fifties, she became a United States Postal Carrier, a job she loved, and one that allowed her to visit with folks all over town, and develop many new friendships.
Evelyn loved to swim in Taylor's Creek - the “cut”, as Beaufort folks call it. When her children were young, she would load up the car with the neighborhood kids and take them all swimming. On the way home, the older ones would ride on the running board, supposedly so they wouldn't get the car wet, but mostly for fun. Thursday night was bridge night, and Evelyn and her friends played serious bridge, while they socialized. Evelyn and Gray loved to dance, and went with friends to the Atlantic Beach Hotel, the Jefferson Hotel, and anywhere else that had a good band.
Gray died in 1992, but Evelyn kept on swimming, playing bridge, and dancing. She and a group of friends swam down the cut almost every day at high tide. Another group played bridge once a week, and every Friday night, Evelyn went to the Senior Center to dance. Nothing stopped her from dancing!
In 2011, Evelyn moved to Magnolia Glen in Raleigh, to be near her daughter. She hated to leave Beaufort, but before long, she had made many friends in her new home.
Evelyn had an enormous ability to love and bring out the best in all she encountered. She never met a stranger and had the ability to make each person feel that he or she was very special. She helped her children, her grandchildren, and many others to face life's challenges with a positive attitude and determination. Her family is blessed with her unconditional love and numerous memories that deeply touch and will continue to guide their lives. Mom, or GMom, as her grandchildren called her, is loved deeply and will be greatly missed.
There have been a number of people in Evelyn's life in her later years who have stepped up and provided loving care and assistance. Gail Murrell was her helper and special friend during her last years in Beaufort. Many other friends and relatives helped too, making it possible for Evelyn to stay in Beaufort until she was almost 94. Zuwena Mukandekezi (Zuzu), Henriette Nshunguye, and all the staff at Magnolia Glen helped to make her life meaningful, safe, and happy during her last 2 1/2 years. To all of these people, the family will be forever grateful.
Evelyn is survived by her children: Rae Frances McNamara Jarema, Bryan Hassell and wife, Joyce, John Hassell and wife, Diane; 7 grandchildren: Kelley McNamara Shepherd and husband, Frank, Kevin McNamara and wife,Michelle, Lisa Hassell Swisshelm and husband, Russ, Leigh Hassell Madsen, John Hassell III and wife, Nyla, Patrick Hassell and wife, Sally, and Shelley Hadden and husband, Rob. Evelyn is also survived by 19 great-grandchildren and 4 great-great-grandchildren, as well as numerous nieces and nephews and many friends.
A memorial service to celebrate Evelyn's life will be held on Thursday, July 11 at St. Paul's Episcopal Church in Beaufort, at 2 p.m. A reception in the church Parish Hall will follow the service. In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to the Boys and Girls Club of Carteret County, P.O. Box 1514, Morehead City, NC 28557 or to a charity of one's choice.
Arrangements are by Brooks Funeral Home and Crematory Inc. of Morehead City. Access online obituary and Internet condolences through www.brooksfuneralhomeandcrema tory.com.