Spotlight on Thomas and Karen Hazelwood

If you live in the Crittenden/Eclipse neighborhood, then the Hazelwood family’s long

history is probably familiar to you. Thomas Hazelwood is a 5th generation waterman and

worked on the water for 20 years. He is a familiar face down at Johnson’s Seafood where he

still lends a hand during his retirement. His wife, Karen, grew up in Chuckatuck and taught public school for 38 years in Suffolk and Chesapeake.


Thomas spent his first birthday on his dad’s boat and knew by age 8 or 9 that he wanted to be a waterman. “It all came natural to me,” he says. Thomas reminisced about the long, hard days of oystering. He says that the work was good for the first 12 to 15 years, but in the mid 1980s two diseases, MSX and Dermo, came and lowered  the quantity of the oysters. At that time he diversified the business and went clamming. For a short period of time he worked on a scallop boat. In the early 1990’s, Thomas became the Commissioner of the Revenue for the City of Suffolk and served in this position for 23 years. In the early 2000s oysters once again rebounded and upon his retirement in 2014, he came back to work with his friends, the Johnsons. He writes invoices, helps with orders, and lends a hand to help around the crab house.

Thomas grew up on the lot that he and his wife now live on. His dad built the house and moved into the new home in 1955. Daisy Dean Johnson Adams, one of Captain Lipp’s daughters, lived in the house across the street, and Thomas spent a lot of time with Daisy. She taught him about the Adams family and played a large role in Thomas’s father’s life, also. Thomas’s father was orphaned as a toddler when his mother died from the Spanish Flu,  so he was raised by his grandparents with the help of Daisy. Daisy left her house to Thomas when she died because of how close she was to his family. Thomas’s mother ultimately ended up moving into the home because she wanted to live in a smaller house. Thomas and Karen then moved into Thomas’s family home. While she was alive, Daisy also taught Thomas how to tat. He has always been fascinated with tying rope and his rope creations fill a colorful basket in his home. His keychains are a generous gift that he enjoys sharing with his community of friends. He had some model boats built which are great
conversation pieces. A few members of the Adams family are buried on the Hazelwood’s land, and their graves are nestled on a beautiful, peaceful plot.

Karen is originally from Chuckatuck and would go to Bunkleys to swim and play with thechildren in Crittenden and Eclipse. Ginny Bagnell’s mother taught Thomas in the first grade, and he and Karen remember her fondly as a great storyteller. She and Thomas went to school together beginning in the fourth grade and began dating right after high school. They were married in 1971, four years after they graduated from high school. Their daughter lives in Roanoke (but will soon be moving to Maine), and their son lives just down the street from them.

Karen and Thomas own Bunkleys and, from the outside, have restored and maintained the historic building. They describe the former store as selling everything from “cheese to paint” like a mix of a Food Lion, WalMart, and Lowes. After Bunkleys ceased to be a post office and store, it was briefly an art gallery and the building site of a sailboat. If you are driving by on your golf cart, it is a wonderful treat to see this piece of history still standing.

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