Hazel Evelyn Edwards Stewart was born on September 22, 1924 in Lyons Georgia. Her childhood was fraught with severe financial hardship during the economic depression of the 1930′s. She marred at the age of 16 and worked as a civilian clerk typist for the U.S. Army at Fort Gordon, Georgia during World War II. After the war, she worked with her mother in a fish market and florist for more than 30 years. She assumed the ownership of the florist after her mother’s death in 1976 and operated the business successfully for another 24 years in spite of failing health caused by cancer and emphysema. Adversity, in its various guises, marked her life from birth to death. Her commitment to her business, fueled in part by the belief that she was tending to the emotional needs of an extended family, never faltered. Until the very end of her life, she was motivated by the desire to serve others through her business and to carry forward the torch that which had been passed to her by her mother.
Myrtle Linder Collins, mother of Hazel Edwards Stewart, was born July 2, 1907 in Lyons, Georgia. She was raised on a south Georgia farm with several brothers and sisters. During much of the economic depression, she was a divorced mother responsible for caring for and parenting a child. Out of necessity, she moved from place to place to find work when there were few opportunities available to anyone, much less a single mother. There were many occasions when Myrtle and her daughter Hazel were uncertain about where the next meal going to come from. After remarrying, she moved to Augusta, Georgia and with the help of other businessman, opened a fish market. Despite the economic hardship, the business flourished. Myrtle found herself netting several thousand per week during a time when those earning a hundred were considered middle class. After several years of success, she sold the business and opened the Augusta Flower and Gift Shop which came to be known as Augusta Florist. Despite financial woes during the first two years, the business grew a little each year and eventually became one of the most successful florists in the area. Myrtle build her business one customer at a time, offering value and quality service. She was a woman who combined determination, an engaging personality, and the common sense skills needed to build and manage a successful business.
Glenn E. Stewart Sr.
Glenn Edward Stewart Sr. was born on March 25, 1916 in Matthews, Georgia. During the late 1920′s and early 1930′s, he took responsibility for the most physically demanding farm chores while sharing a small home with mother, aunt, and grandmother. He met and married Hazel Edwards in 1940. Shortly after the US entered World War II, he enlisted for military service. Serving as a combat infantryman with the U.S. Army, he saw action in North Africa, Sicily, and Italy. He suffered a broken back caused by mortar fire in Italy and was confined to a body cast for 6-9 months. He was awarded the Purple Heart and was discharged with the rank of Staff Sergeant. After the war, he went to work for the Railway Express Agency for nearly 30 years until he received a disability retirement after suffering a mild stroke. Glenn’s responsibilities at REA included considerable physical labor, moving freight from rail cars to cargo carts in areas where he was exposed to the weather for extended periods. Although the strenuous work frequently aggravated his back condition, he never complained and seldom missed work, even though sometimes he could barely bend or walk. Glenn Stewart Sr. was a simple man of good humor, strength, and character. He believed in duty, honor, economy, courage, service, love of family and country, and the American dream.
Maude Linder Collins was born July 2, 1907 in Lyons Georgia. Maude, whose education did not extend beyond the eighth grade, was a colorful and plain spoken character. She kept customers at her grocery store under control with her sharp tongue and direct manner. On those occasions when customers got into arguments or started to fight, Maude restored order by hurling canned goods from the grocery shelf with deadly accuracy, pelting the combatants into submission. Her speech was a bit salty, she carried a pistol in her purse for years and she freely offered her opinions both to those who asked and to many who did not. Beneath this coarse exterior was a warm and caring woman who worked hard every day for 70 plus years and stood by her family and friends during difficult times. Her unyielding loyalty and generosity compelled her to pay for a nephew to attend both college and graduate school. Although her life included a fair share of hardship, she always manifested a cheerful attitude and kept going.