Hazel Cardwell, pioneer educator

Hazel Cardwell, circa 1910
Courtesy photo

By Robert Singletary
| August 7, 2020 1:00 AM

Hazel Elizabeth Cardwell, pioneer educator and native of Coeur d’Alene, was born on May 2, 1891. As a child, she witnessed the last days of Fort Sherman and Coeur d’Alene’s population boom during the early 1900s. She graduated from Coeur d’Alene High School in 1910 and started her teaching career the following September at Squaw Bay School. She taught at several rural schools, including the Coeur d’Alene Reservation School and the Blue Bell School near Potlatch. In 1918, she graduated from Lewiston Normal College and later served as principal of the Sherman and Huetter elementary schools.

In 1926, Hazel Cardwell was elected Kootenai County Superintendent of Schools and for six years was the leader of the county’s one-room schools and high schools. In addition to her work in public education, she was an early supporter of the Coeur d’Alene Junior College, which is now North Idaho College.

As president of the Business and Professional Women’s Club, she pledged full support for the new college. She joined other women who went door to door getting donations to help get the college off the ground. These gifts were the sole support for the college, except the modest tuition from students, until it received state funding in 1939. Mrs. Cardwell was elected to serve on the college’s first Board of Trustees in 1933.

In addition to her professional work in education, Hazel Cardwell was involved in community affairs her entire life. She served on several boards of directors, including the Kootenai County Tuberculosis Association, the White Pine Girl Scouts Council and the County Welfare Board.

She was listed in the “Who’s Who of American Women” and was presented the North Idaho College Distinguished Citizen Award in 1983. Hazel Cardwell died at the age of 92 on Dec. 19, 1983.

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The Museum of North Idaho is sponsoring walking tours of Fort Sherman and downtown Coeur d’Alene by regional historian, Robert Singletary. Call 208-664-3448 for information. The Museum is open Tuesday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. This year’s special exhibit features the history of the Women’s Suffrage Movement in Idaho. Women received the right to vote in Idaho on Nov. 15, 1896, the fourth state to do so.