Depencier, Hazel Pumfrey (1915 - 1990)
Inducted: October 26, 1994
Hazel Depencier was an exemplary farm and family woman who brought her day-to-day responsibilities and her wider community interests a cheerful spirit remembered by al who met her.
Everyone who knew her admired her approach to life and its challenges. She believed in women being involved, and she demonstrated this belief by accepting an ascending sequence of offices in the Women’s Institute, an organization she saw as having a meaningful role in speaking for farm women around the world.
Mrs. Depencier’s sense of humour infused all of her activities, especially her readings, some of them self-written. Her Women’s Institute associates remember her lively sales technique when she auctioned craft contributions at area conventions, “at twice the price, and with everyone having a good time!” These auctioneering talents were shared on an interdenominational basis with area churches. As one friend recalled, “Se just loved to hear people laugh!”
But Mrs. Depencier never lost sight of the lofty purpose of the Women’s Institute. As she wrote on one occasion: “Every member of the Women’s Institute is a personal advertisement of her Branch. Each is a public relations officer creating favourable recognition in the public eye, each doing her part to lighten the burdens of others and trying to make the world a more peaceful place in which to live!” That approach to the Women’s Institute was Mrs. Depencier’s approach to life.
She was born in Camden Township, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Wesley Pumfrey, and she received her early education there. A Tweedsmuir History recorded her early membership in both the Kent Bridge and the North Thamesville Branches of the Women’s Institute, and the early recognition of her special talents.
Mrs. Depencier was North Thamesville Branch President from 1961-1963, and over the years she held every office in that Branch except that of Public Relations Officer. She was East Kent District Secretary from 1961-1965; President from 1967-1970; and an alternate Provincial Board Director from 1967-1970. She was an active and interested member of the East Kent District Scholarship Committee.
The passing years brought her new ad larger responsibilities. Mrs. Depencier’s primary lifelong concern was demonstrated in her service as Southwestern Area Women’s Institute Convenor of Family and consumer Affairs from 1977-1979 With all her community activities, the family was always of paramount importance to her. A grandson remembers her as “constantly cooking, “ and “doing everything on the farm except the actual farm work.”
Mrs. Depencier was a Provincial Board Director from 1979-1982. She delighted in attending and participating in the Annual Meeting of the Federated Women’s Institutes of Canada in New Brunswick in 1982; and in the Triennial meeting of the Associated Country Women of the World in Vancouver in June 1983.
Mrs. Depencier was a Life Member of the North Thamesville Branch of the Women’s Institute, of the East Kent District, of the Federated Women’s Institutes of Ontario and the Associated Country Women of the World.
She became part of the Thamesview Lodge Auxiliary when her husband, Ernest, was elected Kent County Warden; and she served as Auxiliary President, and was an active member for many years.
Mrs. Depencier was a member of the Board of the Kent Children’s Aid Society. Her interest in children and education brought school groups to visit the Depencier farm; and a Japanese Exchange student, Mikio Kato, to stay with the family in 1963.
Mrs. Depencier was also an active member of the Thamesville United Church for many years, and served as President of the United Church Women. She was able to put her natural elocution and acting talents to use as Director of Young Peoples’ plays there.
The Depenciers have one daughter, Grace (Dr. John Farley), Halifax; two sons, Wayne and Donald, on the family farm; and seven grandchildren, Gael, Gwyneth, James, Gilmour, Brian, Brenda and Susan.
A friend said she occasionally has a quiet chuckle, when she “remembers something Hazel said years ago.” She added, “She was a hard worker, an excellent Women’s institute member and a wonderful friend.