Life With Ferris: Hazel Hutcheson Bell Quietly Makes A Big Difference In Our World

Monday, May 23, 2022 - by Ferris Robinson
Hazel Hutcheson Bell
Hazel Hutcheson Bell

The Margaret Rawlings Lupton Award of Excellence is one of the most prestigious awards given at Girls Preparatory School. The award is given in recognition of alumnae who have made a significant impact in their communities in professional and/or volunteer activities.

Hazel Hutcheson Bell ’77 would never expect to receive an award of this stature. Self-effacing, she quietly makes a difference in this world. But what a difference she makes.

The mother of three sons who all attended Fairyland Elementary School and McCallie School, Hazel could be found manning the Fairyland Festival, volunteering in the classroom, and heading up the PTO, as well as leading various Cub Scout troops year after year. Very active at Church of the Good Shepherd, Hazel has served on the altar and linen guilds at the church for decades, giving up her Saturdays to quietly prepare for the Sunday service, mindfully performing these sacred rituals. She served as president of the Garden Club of Lookout Mountain, which is a member of the Garden Club of America, and as president, she met with people all over the country as she led the GCLM. The Hunter Museum has benefitted from both Hazel and her late sister’s, Tisho Zohanni, service, as has the Chambliss Center for Women.

Hazel, born and raised on Lookout Mountain by the late Frank and Patsy Hutcheson, has a broad vision and a servant’s heart, something she would shrug off. But this woman has impacted our community, the heart of our greater community, by actively furthering diversity and equality in underserved communities in Chattanooga.

“She has given an enormous amount of her time, opened her home, and quietly changed the lives of many children and families,” said Pamela Hammonds of GPS.

Along with her friend Margaret Nelson, Hazel mentored a little girl, Frida, through Big Brothers Big Sisters, and the two of them took their two “littles” to everything available in Chattanooga, from the Zoo to the Aquarium to every event under the sun, all the while sharing their lives with these girls and opening their eyes to so much.

Hazel actually met Frida while volunteering as an after-school tutor at First-Centenary Inner City Ministry in the reading room, a program Margaret was and is involved in. A refugee from Burundi along with her family, Frida was only nine years old when she and her family fled the civil war in Burundi.

Frida came with her family to Chattanooga through Bridges Refugee Services, and accompanied Hazel and her family on trips to the beach, to their farm in Alabama, and many other activities. Hazel introduced Frida to ballet through Ballet Tennessee and ensured Frida had transportation to all her practices and performances. In addition to getting her own three busy boys to their activities all over the city!

Hazel helped Frida enroll as a sixth-grader at the Chattanooga Girls Leadership Academy, where she became involved in many activities. One of the most important was Frida’s involvement in the Mustang Leadership Program run by GPS alumna Sue Anne Wells ’71. Hazel worked alongside Sue Anne, taking the girls on field trips and teaching them to ride and care for horses.

A Carson Scholar and recipient of the Maxine Bailey Scholarship, Frida graduated CGLA with honors. Hazel helped her attain a scholarship to East Tennessee State University, where she continued to dance.

Frida was granted her U.S. citizenship several years ago, and Hazel wouldn’t have missed the important ceremony in D.C. for anything.

“For Frida, citizenship means opportunity. Opportunity to get a good education, opportunity to have a chance at a good job and the opportunity to live in a nation where we are free to worship as we like, have free speech and are given the chance for a fair trial - all of these things were not available to Frida or her countrymen in a land torn by civil war and genocide.  

“For me, attending the naturalization ceremony was very moving.  It reminded me why our country is so great and why so many people long to join us in citizenship. ‘We hold these truths to be self evident, that all men are created equal.’  Our forefathers’ well thought-out Constitution embodies what it means to be a citizen of the United States of America.”

* * *

Ferris Robinson is the author of three children’s books, “The Queen Who Banished Bugs,” “The Queen Who Accidentally Banished Birds,” and “Call Me Arthropod” in her pollinator series. “Making Arrangements” is her first novel. “Dogs and Love - Stories of Fidelity” is a collection of true tales about man’s best friend. Her website is and you can download a FREE pollinator poster there. She is the editor of The Lookout Mountain Mirror and The Signal Mountain Mirror.

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