Family Album

“To be rooted is perhaps the most important and least recognized need of the human soul.”

– Writer, Simone Weil


Mom - June Lavinia (Carlson) Hetzel 2/23/24 - 7/12/99

"The weak and the gentle,
the ribald and the rude,
she took them as she found them
and did them all good."

- Poet, Elizabeth Barrett Browning

I was truly blessed to have had a mother who personified the meaning of unconditional love. It took me years to truly appreciate her kind and gentle ways, because she moved at a quieter, slower pace than I. But I am thankful to say I realized many years before she died just how remarkably wonderful she was and I got to tell her so.

June was known for her friendly smile and welcoming manner. She loved people and was endlessly interested in them, always remembering not only the names of everyone she had ever met, but also the names and “stories” of all their near and dear!

When she died unexpectedly in 1999, over 400 people stood patiently in line for hours on a hot, muggy July evening. They were there to pay their respects to this unassuming, little lady (5’2”) who had none of the credentials – initials, big job titles or other worldly accomplishments - that are deemed “important”. Everyone from the check-out ladies at the local supermarket, the mailman, the Avon lady and the newspaper carrier to town dignitaries and countless “ordinary” and extraordinary people told us how she had brightened their days just by being herself. .

Thanks for that lesson, Mom. Got it!


Dad - Raymond Francis Hetzel 7/10/23 - 3/11/81

“Let us then be up and doing,
with a heart for any fate,
still achieving, still pursuing,
learn to labor and to wait.”

Poet – Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

My Dad was bigger than life to me and since we were a lot alike, he was the one with whom I was constantly butting heads. Tall, dark and handsome, Dad was quick-tempered, quick-witted, strong yet caring, loyal and a true perfectionist, who was known for saying, “If you are going to do it, do it right.”

He was also a soft-hearted collector of poems and inspirational sayings and a lover of music, who was apt to dance at the drop of a hat or break out in song at any moment. He could and did sing all 4 parts in his barbershop group and around the piano at Hetzel’s Happy Hollow, the family gathering place in his brother’s basement.

I know that I get my confidence and sense that anything is possible if you believe it from my Dad, who also instilled in all of us his strong belief in the importance of family sticking together no matter what. One of the greatest things he ever told me was that while he and Mom might not always like some of the things I did or approve of some of the choices I made in life, they would always love me and I could always “come home”.

When I was 30, his sudden death at 57 from a fast moving cancer left a huge hole in my life. I still miss him, but his passing drew my brothers, sister and I even closer to each other and to Mom.

Michael, Carla (Cooper) and Mark & Dee Hetzel – my sibs & sister-in-law.   

   As a child, I often thought that my brothers and sister were the biggest pains – that old love/hate thing. It took going to college and getting some perspective/homesickness before I started to appreciate the closeness we shared. This continued despite our seeming differences, which were most especially apparent during my “yuppie” years.

Operating styles aside, there is very deep, abiding love and respect between us – instilled by both my parents and honed over the years as one or the other of us has faced adversity and needed “back-up”.

They were there for me most recently when I got divorced, helping me pack up and moving me into my little house on the pond. We made it through the sad, upsetting proceedings of closing up the family home after Mom’s death - an acid test many families fail. Then, when Michael’s 42 year-old wife, Mary, died in her sleep at 42 and left him and the children (Holley, 2 & Nick, 5) bereft, we rallied ‘round again and are now closer than ever before.

I am also blessed with a very special sister-in-law, Denise, Mark’s wife and best friend from high school days. Dee has held a very important place in our family since she was a teenager and is my sister-in-heart, as well as “in-law”.

Eric & Christa Cooper, Nick & Holley and Leah Hetzel

    These are the children of my heart, the dearest ones in the world to me. I am very proud to have actually helped the first two of them come into the world, as I was my sister’s Lamaze coach. Lucky for me, her husband, Jack, is a bit squeamish about certain things.

I believe each one knows that “Auntie Gail” will always be there for them, whether it’s scoring cool concert tickets and helping them decide on and get settled into college to going for “joy rides” with the sun roof open and getting silly – dancing around the living room after having an indoor picnic on the floor.

I fully expect the “Hetzel/Cooper Cousins” to make it big as a singing group a few years from now!


Gail H. Stone, helping people to Get a Grip and Go®!



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