Hazel M. Colaneri, 86, Family Was Joy of Her Life

Hazel Marchant (Smith) Colaneri died Nov. 14. Born April 9, 1920, she was the third child of Edward Tucker Smith and Genevieve West Smith.

Her two sisters, Natalie and Virginia, and her brother Leslie predeceased her.

In her early years, she lived in West Tisbury and Chilmark. She moved to Tisbury as a child and spent most of her youth on William street. She was graduated from the Tisbury School in 1938.

A long-time resident of Tisbury, she was an Islander through and through: she cherished, understood and appreciated all of the changes she witnessed on the Island over her 86 years.

"In my early years," she would say, "life was rough, work was scarce and seasonal, and the winters were long and cold."

At age 19, while working as a waitress at the Mansion House, she met and fell for the love of her life, Humberto J. Colaneri. Bert was an immigrant from Campabasso, Italy, and was a barber on Main street for 35 years.

They married in 1940; for the beautiful red-headed Smith girl to marry an Italian immigrant 10 years her senior - especially during the war years - was a love that required more than a little faith and patience.

They, like many young couples at the time, struggled to make a life in Tisbury, where Hazel was an air-raid warden. They rented a room in a neighbor's house and then moved in with her parents, until her father built them a house on Renear street in 1947.

As a young wife, she was a country girl who modeled the high fashions of the day. She made all of her clothes by hand; sewing was one of her great joys well into the late 1980s.

The first of her two sons, Michael Edward, was born in July 1943; Jon Robert was born in March of 1952. Her sons were the true joys of her life. When they were infants, she walked them into town from Renear street every day in their baby carriages; she never got a driver's license. She walked them to school every day until they were old enough to go on their own; she read to them; she made sure they did their homework.

There are stories about her holding wrenches for them while they fixed cars and motorcycles; sometimes neighbors would catch her on the back of the boys' newest motor bike. When Michael was drafted into the Army in 1964, she told him she would go with him if she could. She wrote to him every day for two years, until his safe return.

In 1969, she welcomed Karen Goethals into her life as Michael's bride; she and Karen became constant companions. Hazel and Bert were a steady fixture at Mike and Karen's home in West Tisbury until Bert's death in 1979.

She treasured her friendships and enjoyed long chats with friends of many ages, including her sons' friends, who kept in touch with her throughout their lives. Her true reward in life came from her three grandchildren and five great-grandchildren.

During the 1980s and 1990s, she was a continuous presence at Martha's Vineyard Regional High School, where she attended her grandchildren's multitude of theatre productions and athletic events.

She enjoyed many vacations with her family to Florida (where her son Jon lived) and later to Las Vegas to attend his wedding to Cindy Herrick in 1999. She traveled to western Massachusetts and Barrington, R.I., to spend many treasured hours with her five great-grandchildren. She loved her family with a fierce, unconditional love that will be sorely missed by those to whom she was closest.

Survivors include her sons and daughters-in-law, Michael and Karen Colaneri of West Tisbury, and Jon and Cynthia Colaneri of Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.; her grandchildren, Nicole Galland of Vineyard Haven, Sara Colaneri Bonneau and her husband Mark of Barrington, R.I., Hong Ly and his wife Hong Ngyuen of Leeds; and her great-grandsons Michael and Andy Ly Ngyuen, and Nicholas, Ryan and Sean Bonneau. She is also remembered with love by many dear friends.

Donations can be sent in Hazel's memory to The Children's Heart Fund, Children's Hospital Boston, 300 Longwood avenue, Boston, MA 02115.