In Memoriam Hazel Louise Anderson McGaffey, 88, prominent retired pathologist of Priest River, Idaho, died peacefully Friday, Dec. 21, 2012, in Sandpoint.
Hazel was born Aug. 21, 1924, on her pioneer parents' farm near Opheim, Mont., some of the last homesteading done in the lower 48 states.
Hazel attended the Wild Rose country school with combined eight grades. She rode horseback cross-country to attend, even during harsh winters. She finished high school in Opheim, boarding in town during the week. Roads were frequently impassable during winter. Finishing high school in 1941, Hazel graduated from medical secretarial school at Northern Montana College in Havre, Mont. She worked on the Belknap Indian reservation and then furthered her education at the University of Minnesota during and following World War II, where she obtained her medical degree.
She met and then married Byron McGaffey on June 12, 1949. Hazel was the first female medical intern at Swedish Memorial Hospital in Seattle, pioneering a path in an otherwise male-dominated profession. She and Byron moved to New York City, where Hazel completed a residency in chest diseases. Daughter Ann was born in 1951 in NYC. Thereafter, the family lived at Fort Leonard Wood, Mo., where son William was born in 1954. The family then lived in Denver, Colo., where Hazel completed a residency in clinical and anatomical pathology. In 1961, Hazel became head of the department of pathology at the Oklahoma Veterans Hospital in Oklahoma City, Okla. She also instructed sophomore medical students part time at the nearby University of Oklahoma Medical School.
In 1963, the family moved to Idaho Falls. Hazel practiced as director of pathology at Sacred Heart Medical Hospital, as well as the LDS Medical Hospital. She consulted at smaller outlying community hospitals in places like Ashton, Blackfoot and Arco. In 1964, she was elected to office as Bonneville County coroner for two consecutive terms. As coroner, she became interested in Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDs), which led to future publication. Subsequently, Hazel practiced in Butte, Mont., thereafter retired with Byron to a small cattle ranch near Priest River in 1990.
Hazel attended First Presbyterian Church in Idaho Falls and enjoyed singing in a robust choir. She raised Arabian horses, participating in Arabian Horse Club events, hosting member rides at the family farm in the foothills east of Idaho Falls and at their ranch near Divide, Mont. She was a dedicated gardener and preserver -- perhaps a remnant skill of having endured hard times of the Great Depression as a child on the family homestead. She cherished irises, dahlias and many types of flowers and trees. Hazel traveled the world: the Soviet Union, Egypt, Europe and Scandinavia, China, South America and the Galapagos Islands.
Hazel is survived by husband, Byron of Priest River; daughter, Ann McGaffey-Jacobson, M.D., of Pittsburg, Pa.; and son, William McGaffey, DVM, of Deer Park, Wash.; two brothers, Dan Anderson of Glasgow, Mont., and Arnold Anderson of Opheim, Mont.; three grandchildren; and one great-grandchild.