Hundreds attended services on Saturday at St. Francis Xavier Catholic Church to celebrate the life of Nicole Hazen, who died on Aug. 4 at age 45 after more than a two-year battle with glioblastoma, an aggressive form of brain cancer.
Hazen, the wife of Diamondbacks General Manager Mike Hazen, was remembered for her ability to connect with people and forge strong friendships, as well as for her passion for her family and teaching.
After her diagnosis in 2020, she continued teaching middle school English at St. Francis Xavier School until the end of 2021. In an effort to slow the advancement of the tumor, she underwent a biopsy, three craniotomies and a surgical revision due to a possible infection. She also tried three different drug therapies.
She left behind four sons between the ages of 12 and 16. Mike Hazen, who spoke on Saturday, delivered powerful and heartfelt remarks, much of which was aimed at his boys. He said he hoped they understood why he had been constantly reminding them to hug their mother whenever they walked into or out of a room with her.
“It wasn’t just so I could torment you to hug your mom again,” he said. “It was that I wanted you to have a lifetime of hugs from mom for however much time we had because I know you’ll never forget how much your mom loves you and I never wanted you to forget her embrace.”
He continued: “If there is one thing I could ask you to carry on in her legacy, it would be to be a magnet for good people. Your mother was like a moth to a flame for good people.”
Rick Ferrara, Nicole’s brother, said his sister had a way of easily connecting with people — “It was just her gift,” he said — and that she was intertwined in so many of his childhood memories in part because she was always so welcoming of him despite his status as the younger sibling.
“Even though I was the younger brother and could have been excluded, she kept me involved,” he said. “I was her friend, too. That might explain why my first concert ever was Debbie Gibson and my second one was New Kids on the Block.”
Mike Hazen remembered a moment at spring training from his time working for the Boston Red Sox when Nicole wrangled their boys away from a golf cart being driven by former third baseman Frank Malzone.
“When she walked away, he pulled me aside and said, ‘You know what? I like that wife of yours. She’s a real pistol,’” Hazen recalled. “She was a real pistol, all right.”
This article originally appeared on Arizona Republic: Hundreds gather to memorialize Nicole Hazen, wife of Diamondbacks GM Mike Hazen