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Ron Hazelton, a leading authority and pioneer in the do-it-yourself home improvement field, died peacefully on Sunday, April 30, with his family at his side. He was 81.
On the road, in the television studio or in his workshop, Ron enjoyed providing people the advice and motivation they needed to improve their homes. Ron was well-known for his trademark blue denim work-shirts, his friendly, easygoing manner and his encouraging ‘you-can-do-it’ style. His syndicated television show,
Ron Hazelton’s HouseCalls, is now in its 24th season. As the former Home Improvement Editor for Good Morning America, he reported on a variety of topics related to home improvement, design, repair, health and safety. He hosted the History Channel series, Hands on History, and other History Channel programs, including Modern Marvels and Save our History: Frontier Homes. Ron also offered his home improvement expertise on The Oprah Winfrey Show and Inside Edition.
He first began sharing his expertise in 1989 with his own weekend home improvement show, The House Doctor, pioneering the concept of reality-based, on-location home improvement television. The show ran for over six years in the San Francisco Bay Area on ABC’s KGO-TV and also aired on the Home and Garden Television Network (HGTV).
Ron was born March 29, 1942 in Binghamton, New York, to Earl and Wanda Hazelton. He graduated from Florida State University with a degree in business and marketing in 1965. After graduation, he enlisted in the US Navy for four years and served on the USS Hull during the Vietnam War.
After the Navy, a successful career in marketing and advertising followed. In his late 30’s he underwent a self-described midlife crisis, quit his job as vice president of a Boston ad agency, and hopped on a motorcycle for a cross-country adventure that led him to San Francisco. As the son of a building contractor and avid do-it-yourselfer, Ron discovered he had a similar passion to his father. In 1978, he founded Cow Hollow Woodworks, a storefront restoration workshop where he built and restored custom and antique furniture. On the advice of his dentist, who was one of his clients, Ron broke into television with his show, The House Doctor on ABC’s KGO-TV. As a master craftsman, he was able to share with others the satisfaction he had working with his hands on home improvement projects and enhancing the beauty and comfort of a home.
His talents were recognized by executives at ABC’s Good Morning America (GMA) and he was hired as the show’s home improvement editor where he was assigned to producer Lynn Drasin. In addition to becoming a production team, they became life partners, marrying in 1997 at New York City’s Plaza Hotel. Together, from 1994 to 2003, they produced a wide range of stories for GMA that focused on home safety, building projects, new products and more, becoming a household name across the country.
Ron’s wanderlust found new opportunity when he pioneered the concept of a traveling home improvement show that featured, “real homes, real projects, real problems, and real people.” The show, Ron Hazelton’s Housecalls, featured Ron traveling across the country in a sleek motorhome with a fully equipped state-of-the-art mobile workshop in tow, visiting homeowners who needed a helping hand on home improvement projects. The show offered tips and guidance for the do-it-yourselfer. Ron prided himself on being a teacher and loved to give people the confidence that they could work with tools on home and garden projects. His warmth and ability to connect with people was at the heart of his show.
As Ron and Lynn grew their family, they moved from New York City and settled in Fairfield, Connecticut, where the show is headquartered and continues to be produced.
Ron believed his greatest accomplishments were his children, daughter Danielle and son Max. Having children later in life brought Ron more joy than he could have imagined. He loved creating a wonderful home for his own family and sharing his love of learning with his children.
He was a man of great integrity, intelligence, humor and patience and will be missed by all who had the good fortune to know him.
Ron is survived by his wife of 25 years, Lynn Drasin, and children Danielle and Max Hazelton. He leaves his brother and sister-in-law, Ken and Cheri Hazelton, nephews Michael and Eric, niece Karly Hazelton, and sister Jan Hazelton. He is also survived by his mother-in-law, Marlene Drasin.
The family wishes to extend their gratitude to the nurses and doctors at Yale New Haven Health Bridgeport Hospital for their great care of Ron.
A memorial service will be held on June 4, 2023, at 11:00am at the Abraham L. Green & Son Funeral Home, 88 Beach Road, Fairfield, CT.
Memorial contributions may be made in Ron’s name to:
Make-A-Wish Foundation America
1701 East Highland Avenue, Suite 400
Phoenix, AZ 85016
Or online at Wish.Org.