July 24, 1915 – Dec. 4, 2014
Hazel Grove, a local swim teacher for almost four decades and an athlete through her 90s, died Dec. 4 in Amherst. She was 99.
“She taught thousands of people to swim in her lifetime,” said Bill Grove, her son. “We were all water rats by the time we were 5 years old.”
A graduate of South Park High School, she went swimming in the quarry in Sherkston, Ont., with friends as a girl. Her swim instruction career included work from 1940 to 1945 at Buffalo’s YMCAs, at the Amherst Night School in the 1950s, Park School Camp in the 1960s and Windermere Elementary school from 1962 to 1977.
Grove remembers his mother for how she encouraged confidence in the water by showing children how to breathe. She had them hold on to the edge of the pool and practice by putting their heads in the water and turning left to right.
“I used to watch her do that,” Grove said. “That’s one of the biggest parts of swimming is learning to breathe properly.”
She also played badminton and tennis, winning a Western New York doubles championship. His mother spent her summers swimming at Cuba Lake near the family summer cottage as recently as a year and a half ago.
“I think that was why she was so healthy,” said Grove, adding that her 17-year-old yellow Labrador Retriever lived a long life, too. “I think the reason was, he was in the lake swimming every day.”
One summer a few years ago, at 97, she grew concerned that there weren’t enough life jackets for a group of friends riding a pontoon boat. So she and another son decided to come by Jet Ski-like watercraft to deliver some.
“Here she is on a Waverunner that’s bigger than her,” he said.
Her husband of 58 years, Severn T. Grove, died in 2004. She is survived by two other sons, Raymond and Robert; three grandchildren; and two great-grandchildren.
Services will be held in Amherst Community Church, Washington Highway, Snyder, at noon Monday.