Parks and Recreation Image

Juneau-Douglas City Museum

Nordenson, Cliff & Hazel

by interview by Agnes McAndrew

Hazel Nordenson was born February 10, 1918, in Mason, Texas. She grew up in various locations around that state. During World War II, Hazel was in the U.S. Navy Reserves, where she served with the Waves. While in the service, she endured three hurricanes, and left the Waves after three years. Hazel came north to work for the U.S. Weather Bureau, and arrived in Juneau in June, 1946. While in Seattle, awaiting transportation to Juneau, there was an earthquake, which was a frightening experience for her.

After working for the Weather Bureau for many years she went to work for the Bureau of Indian Affairs, where she was employed for twenty years. She belonged to various organizations; Emblem Club, Moose Club, National Association of Federal Employees and Disabled American Veterans. Hazel was a volunteer for many years with the Juneau Visitors Bureau and with the State Museum for thirteen years.

In 1936, Cliff Nordenson went to work for Ernest Gruening. When Gruening was appointed Governor of Alaska in 1939, Cliff came to Juneau to work as head steward at the Governorís Mansion. Hazel met Cliff Nordenson shortly after her arrival in Juneau and they were married three months later, on November 26, 1946. Cliff later worked for the Baranof Hotel in the Bubble Room and owned and operated the Clover Club for a few years. After he sold it, the bar became known as the Top Hat. Cliff was the steward at the Elks Club until he retired, having worked there for 20 years. When he died in Juneau, August 21, 1981, he left many friends. Cliffís ashes were distributed at Indian Cove.

Hazelís son Dean, born October 17, 1947, has always been the big joy of her life. He married Janice McKinley, who is a descendent of a pioneer family. He has worked for many years for the City and Borough of Juneau. Dean and Janice have one son, Eric, who was born in 1977. Hazelís son and grandson both graduated from the Juneau High School. Eric now lives in Colorado.

When Hazel and Cliff bought a cabin at Indian Cove, they fell in love with the area. They later built a larger home where the cabin stood, and they lived there for many years. After Cliff died, Hazel sold the house to her son, who still resides there. She moved to an apartment in Douglas which was easier to maintain and more convenient. Hazel still lives in Douglas, although in a different apartment, and has been there for 19 years.

Hazel Nordenson.