TROY — A retired Troy teacher’s legacy will continue into the future in the form of a scholarship.
Hazel Begovich was one of the first Miami County residents to lose her life to the coronavirus on March 25. She was a retired second-grade teacher, having spent most of her career at Concord Elementary in Troy, retiring in 1996.
In her honor, her husband Charles Begovich has started the Hazel Begovich Memorial Scholarship. The $1,000 scholarship will begin in 2021 and will be available for three years to a graduating Troy High School senior who intends to go into primary education. Application information will be available next spring.
“We are saddened to hear of a former Troy educator’s passing,” said Troy City Schools Superintendent Chris Piper. “All of our educators give their best to students, and she was no exception. This will also help future educators to continue the legacy she started.”
Hazel, 88, was a resident at SpringMeade Health Center in March following a fall that left her with head injuries and a fractured ankle.
Charles Begovich, 87, of Troy, said he was told that Hazel would need to go on a ventilator and that the outlook was not good for her recovery. Charles said the morning of her death, he was allowed to come to the facility and be with her.
“They called the morning of her death, and I was able to get out there about an hour before and hold her hand as she passed away,” said Charles, 87. “I kept trying to squeeze her hand to get a response, and I wasn’t even sure she was aware I was there.”
Charles said he only learned that Hazel had died of COVID-19 following a newspaper report of her being the fourth county resident to die from the virus. He said she had been tested in the ICU at Miami Valley Hospital, but results had not come back until five days later and she had already passed.
“We didn’t know anything about it, I never was told,” Charles said.
The pain of the loss of his wife is only coupled with the lingering pain of having lost their adopted daughter Mary, their only child, in November 2019 when she was mauled to death by her two Great Dane dogs.
“It’s just unbelievable, I had a daughter and a wife … and then they were just gone,” said Charles, who said they would have celebrated their 60th wedding anniversary this August.
Charles said a memorial service is being held for Hazel on May 23 at First Presbyterian Church in Troy, and he looks forward to honoring her in a more appropriate manner than her graveside service held previously.
“What it ended up being was me out in a field and a few scattered people about 50 feet away,” Charles said. “This is when you need people comforting you, and it wasn’t allowed.”
At some point, Charles said with encouragement from family and friends, and even former students, he decided to find a way out of his deep sorrow.
“I’ve had so many people be there for me. You have to stop feeling sorry for yourself and make the things happen that you want to happen … and I want her to be properly remembered,” said Charles, who said he also is having a bronze plaque made in her honor to add to his flowerbed at the end of their driveway.
Charles said although he has felt isolated since the loss of Hazel, his two adult grandchildren, whom he and his wife also raised, live within a mile of his home and are now his greatest support system.
“They are pretty much my life now,” said Charles, who said his neighbors have also been extremely helpful to him.
Charles said he had been with Hazel throughout her entire ordeal at the hospital and SpringMeade and was perplexed why he, too, had not developed the virus. He said he was told that through a series of intravenous immunoglobulin, or IVIG, infusions he had had for a nerve condition about a decade ago that he likely was highly resistant to the disease.
Charles said he is happy he picked himself up and found a way to honor his beloved wife and one of her other great loves.
“Teaching was pretty much her whole life,” Charles said. “I just thought she should be remembered.”