Hazel (Alpaugh) Astle was born in Clinton, New Jersey in 1902 to a family of comfortable means. For the majority of her young life, her parents owned, operated, and lived on a peach farm before eventually moving to their West Street townhouse in Annandale. After graduating at the top of her high school class, she attended Rutgers University and became an elementary school teacher. Education remained a lifelong passion for Hazel, along with the pursuit of knowledge and skills in various areas including fashion, piano, and sewing. She won awards at numerous local fairs for her intricately detailed needlework.
Edward Thatcher Astle, born in 1901, was raised in Annandale just around the corner from Hazel’s parents’ townhouse. After leaving school at age 17, he began working for the Central New Jersey Railroad and later became a Freight Clerk at the Somerville station. People he met on the job, including his co-worker Nelson Alpaugh, introduced Ed to the stock market which became his lifelong passion. With a nearly photographic memory and a keen understanding of stockmarket fundamentals and trends, he made successful investments and became a wealthy man.
Hazel and Ed paired well doing many of the things they enjoyed. They traveled extensively on the Union Pacific Rail Lines, visiting many national parks, southern Canada, and Mexico. Both enjoyed Broadway shows, musicals, and plays. They were excellent hosts, well-versed in events of bygone days as well as those current.
After Ed’s passing in 1986, the Astles’ fortunate circumstances and lifelong enjoyment of learning inspired Hazel and trustee David Olekna to establish The Edward Thatcher Astle Memorial Scholarship Foundation. Up until 1998, the Foundation solely awarded scholarships to college-bound students. Over the past 17 years, the Foundation has completed a transition to The Astle-Alpaugh Family Foundation, an organization that funds diverse educational programs and projects implemented by a variety of Central Jersey nonprofits. To date, the Foundation has awarded over $600,000 in scholarships and organizational grants.