Stella D. Hazard, former head of the art department at Maryvale Preparatory School who became the first female Evening Sun staff artist, died March 19 in her sleep at St. Joseph’s Nursing Home in Catonsville. The longtime Sudbrook Park resident was 103.
She was born Stanislaw Marta Denoga in Baltimore to John Dernoga, who owned Westport Bakery and was a ship modeler, and his wife, Martha S. Dernoga, a Polish immigrant who worked alongside her husband.
Mrs. Hazard grew up in the old Polish neighborhood of East Baltimore, where her first language was Polish.
Her artistic abilities became apparent early, and she was a child when she sold her first drawing, a bunny, to an eager uncle for a dollar, family members said.
Her father, realizing his daughter’s talent, sent her to Saturday morning classes at the Maryland Institute College of Art on Mount Royal Avenue.
She was a 1932 graduate of Western High School, graduating nearly at the top of her class, and was the recipient of a four-year scholarship at MICA, from which she graduated in 1936.
While earning her bachelor’s and master’s degrees at MICA, she met and fell in love with Charles Oliver “Hap” Hazard, a lettering instructor at the school. They married in 1942.
“Her classical artistic training at the Maryland Institute under the leadership of the famous sculptor Hans Schuler prepared her to become an accomplished fine artist specializing in watercolor and portraiture in oils and charcoal,” her daughter, Carla Hazard Tomaszewski, a Piney Point graphic designer and illustrator, wrote in a 100th-birthday biographical profile of her mother.
After college, Mrs. Hazard worked as a botanical artist and research assistant to Dr. William H. Brown at the Johns Hopkins University, while doling freelance research art for biologists there and across the country.
She began working at The Evening Sun in 1939, and when the United States entered World War II with the bombing of Pearl Harbor in 1941, she was named the “very first woman editorial artist,” her daughter wrote, in the “then male-dominated newspaper business.”
Her work brought her into contact with such Sunpapers legends as writers H.L. Mencken, Gerald Johnson, and R.P. Harriss, photographer A. Aubrey Bodine and staff artists Richard Q. “Moco” Yardley and John Stees.
Her wartime work included receiving and preparing Associated Press and United Press International wire photos that arrived from war fronts in both Europe and the Pacific, for large pictorial spreads. She was also sent to various military installations across the country to chronicle the role of women serving in the military.
Mrs. Hazard developed another specialty during her newspaper days: fashion illustration. Editors sent her to New York’s Seventh Avenue, where she covered the fashion houses of Traina Norell, Nettie Rosenstein, Lilly Dache and Claire McCardell, drawing their latest fashion sensations.
She left the newspaper in 1947 when she and her husband purchased their home in Sudbrook Park and she was expecting her son, Charles Rodger Hazard, who became an artist and joined what was known as The Sun’s Universal Art Department in 1969.
Mrs. Hazard tutored her two children in art as they were growing up, her daughter said.
Her daughter was born in 1951, and in 1966, Mrs. Hazard was named head of the art department at Maryvale Preparatory School, and was also founder of the art department at what was then Villa Julie College, now Stevenson University. She retired from both positions in 1979.
In her retirement, she earned a master’s degree in educational psychology through an in-service program that was sponsored by the University of Notre Dame for Maryvale faculty.
Through the intervening years, Mrs. Hazard continued to be a working artist and accepted numerous private commissions as well as those for churches and synagogues.
In 2003, she was commissioned by the National Katyn Memorial Foundation to do an expansive watercolor of the National Katyn Memorial in Inner Harbor East, which was presented to sculptor Andzrej Pitysnki of Poland, who had created the monument.
In later years, she actively pursued manuscript illumination, iconography and calligraphy, while creating illustrations for Poppyfield Press, a graphic business that she and her daughter established to promote Polish culture, history and traditions.