Sadness fell over the Brentwood-Darlington neighborhood last month when it was learned that Richard Arthur Hazeltine – Dick, to all who knew him – had passed away on April 6.
Dick Hazeltine grew up in a house on the corner of S.E. 52nd Avenue and Flavel Drive, in an area platted as "Errol Heights".
Although there is scant biographical information available about him, it's known that Dick married his wife, Opal, on June 22, 1954. Opal predeceased Dick on June 13 of last year.
Although Hazeltine shied away from recognition, many people considered him to be the "Honorary Mayor" of the neighborhood. For decades, he was the quiet leader of numerous neighborhood improvement initiatives, including construction of the Brentwood-Darlington Community Center, establishment of the neighborhood watch program, and being the person behind the neighborhood's clean-ups (one of which will take place this month).
He spearheaded the effort to develop what was known as the "Nehalem property" into a neighborhood park that now bears his name: Hazeltine Park.
Working closely with Hazeltine on many projects, including that park, was neighbor Malcolm Hancock.
"Our neighborhood association wouldn't even be here if not for him, as well as the 'old guard' who organized it," Hancock said. "Dick has done more for the neighborhood than any other single person. I do know he raced cars, and had a full life; he was a good neighbor in the best 'old fashioned' sense."
Brentwood-Darlington Neighborhood Association (BDNA) Board Member Gail Kiely remarked, "Dick was a friend of mine since I moved here in May of 1992. He was the first person that I met; and he invited me to the neighborhood association meeting.
"I was privileged to be one of those who helped him create our own community center, and city park," Kiely said. "Dick fought hard for our neighborhood to have the same amenities that other neighborhoods take for granted.
"He was so proud at the park's dedication, and later, re-dedication of the Hazeltine Nature Park last December 1," Kiely recalled. THE BEE covered that event at the time. "We will miss him greatly; he was a man of honor and dignity, always willing to share stories of the neighborhood that he grew up in and which he called home."
Upon hearing of Hazeltine's passing, Jeff Milkes, former Portland Parks & Recreation Manager of Southeast and East Services – and now Recreation and Community Services Director in Cupertino, California – commented to THE BEE, "Brentwood-Darlington neighbors named the park at 54th and Flavel Drive in his honor because, throughout his life, Dick helped to define a sense of community.
"Dick was a kind and gentle soul who deeply cared about his neighborhood; and, for decades, he reached out to help his fellow community members to be the best people they could be."
BDNA Chair Chelsea Powers summed up her own feelings: "Dick Hazeltine was an inspiration to many, including myself. His decades of service alongside his wife, Opal, helped make this neighborhood what it is today.
"He will be missed, but not forgotten, as his legacy lives on in the work he began and in his namesake park," Powers said. "I hope everyone will take time to visit Hazeltine Park, and think some good thoughts about Dick, and his family."