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101-year-old Hamblen passes away

- Funeral service planned for Wed.

Posted: June 7, 2008 12:46 a.m.
Updated: August 8, 2008 5:03 a.m.

Suzy Hamblen celebrates her 100th birthday last year.

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To hear Kim Jaserie's aunt tell it, Suzy Hamblen was "like a stone being thrown into a quiet pool that left a ripple of love."

To hear other family members tell it, the widow of the late gospel singer Stuart Hamblen ruled the house with tenderness and strength.

Early Monday morning, Suzy Hamblen died at her Placerita Canyon home, surrounded by family.

She was 101 years old.

She suffered a heart attack and stroke recently, and died of congestive heart failure.

"We're dealing with it pretty well because we know where she is," said Jaserie, Hamblen's granddaughter. "She's happier being home."

On May 12, 2007, some 250 people packed Hamblen's house to celebrate her 100th birthday. At the time, she credited her longevity to God and said her favorite Bible verse was Jeremiah 29:11, which reads in part:

"For I know the plans I have for you ... plans for welfare and not for calamity to give you a future and a hope."

She was born Veeva Daniels on May 9, 1907, in Oklahama Indian territory.

By the early 1930s she was a secretary at a Los Angeles radio station, where Stuart Hamblen was a hot item, leader of the Lucky Stars band.

He tried for seven months to get her to go out on a date, she said during a 2007 interview, until the day he walked into the office with a bloodhound.

He asked if she wanted to go hunting that night with him, his bandmates and their wives.

She said yes, after which he left and told his band to show up that night with a woman, ready to go hunting.

Things went awry when the dogs gave chase to a farmer's pigs, and the group was surprised by a warning shotgun blast.

"Buckshot over your head will inspire you to run," she said with a smile. After that, "I thought, what can I do to get him to ask me to marry him?"

Her name change came during a concert, when Stuart called Suzy Ashenfiller up to the stage. Veeva Daniels looked around until she realized he was calling her up. The name stuck, and the two were married in 1933.

She said their marriage was an adventure held together by the grace of God, a marriage that lasted until Stuart died in 1989.

It was a marriage that saw Stuart Hamblen host one of the most popular radio shows in Los Angeles, be the first artist signed to Decca Records, plug a young preacher named Billy Graham and pen well-known songs like "This Ole House," "Texas Plains" and "It Is No Secret."

If something defined Suzy Hamblen, it was likely her love for people.

"Her house was always open," Jaserie said Friday, "because her heart was always open.

"She just embodied loving thy neighbor as you love yourself."

Over the course of the week, Jaserie said warm sentiments have poured in from friends and acquaintances - including a Friday e-mail with a note from Billy Graham in which the evangelist referred to Hamblen as "one of the most outstanding Christian women of her time."

Hamblen is survived by two daughters, seven grandchildren and numerous other family members.

A funeral service will be held 3 p.m. Wednesday at Forest Lawn Memorial Park, located at 6300 Forest Lawn Drive in Hollywood Hills.

The family has asked that any donations be made to World Impact Ministries, 2001 South Vermont Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90007.

She was communicative, witty and passionate to the end, Jaserie said.

On Friday, Jaserie summed up her grandmother's adventure of a life:

"She had 101 years of pure joy."

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