In Memoriam
Oliver W. Hawkins
Oliver W. Hawkins
Class of 1957

The Virginian-Pilot, Sunday, Jun. 5, 2005

Chesapeake - Oliver W. Hawkins, 66, passed away June 4, 2005, after a courageous battle with pancreatic cancer. He passed away in the company of his daughter, Paige and special friend, Ann Kellam. Born in Nash County, N.C., he was the son of the late Jimmy James Hawkins and Idell Virginia Hawkins and was predeceased by his loving wife of 37 years, Mary S. Hawkins.

Oliver was a 1957 graduate of Cradock High School where he was President of his class for all four years of high school and the quarterback on the outstanding 1956 Cradock football team, and named to the All-City Team at years end. He was a reserve United States Marine for two years before attending pharmacy school at the Medical College of Virginia. He later became the top salesman to the military for Proctor and Gamble.

After retiring at age 51, he was able to spend more time with the loves of his life: his family, golfing, fishing and relaxing in the Outer Banks. He was a member of the Southside Lions Club for 14 years and distinguished himself as its president and a long-time member of the Board of Directors. In the last few years, he spent most of his time reconnecting with his longtime friends as well as shag dancing. Oliver was a talented fun-loving dancer. He was a member of the Virginia Beach Shag Club where he served on the Board of Directors. Those who were drawn in by his magnetic character appreciated his honorable, genuine and loving nature. His sense of humor was special, but his overwhelming contagious smile will be remembered by all.

Oliver is survived by his daughter, a high school teacher-coach, Paige Hawkins of Richmond; his son, Mark Jeffery Hawkins of Virginia Beach; his sister, Patricia Goslee and husband Jim of Poquoson; nieces, nephews and a special friend, Ann Kellam of Virginia Beach.

A memorial service attended by 200 friends was held at 3 p.m. Saturday in the Great Bridge Chapel of Oman Funeral Home & Crematory, 653 Cedar Road, Chesapeake. The Rev. W.T. Perkins officiated. The family received friends at the funeral home following the service, and later at his home in Chesapeake. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made in Oliver Hawkins's name to Heartland Hospice, 540 Corporate Woods Drive No. 150, Virginia Beach, VA 23462 or to the Lions Medical Eye Bank, c/o Southside Lions Club, 904 Glenda Crescent, Chesapeake, VA 23322. The family extends their appreciation to all doctors, nurses and staff at Chesapeake Internists, Cancer Specialists of Tidewater and Heartland Home Health and Hospice. Special thanks are extended to Myra Townsend and Rae Grecco.


Oliver’s Eulogy as given at the service by friend Hugh Amory, June 11,2005

The word comes from the ancient Greeks. Eulogy means “Good Talk”. It is very right to talk today about Oliver Hawkins for he was an uncommonly good man. To celebrate goodness in Oliver is to celebrate the great goodness in all of us and the goodness of God.

For the past five months since I first visited Oliver and saw the physical effects of the terrible disease, good talk about my brother, my friend, Oliver has turned in my mind. Not a day went by that he was out of my thoughts. For 66 years, he created life stories in our community and I am full of his stories, but they are only mine and everyone here has their own stories of Oliver. We who are here at this ending are now aware that we could only experience a small bit of the tapestry of his life. This marvelous man who brightened life¹s pathway for us was many things to many people.

As I thought of this “good talk”, I thought of his daughter and son, Paige and Jeff, and Ann Kellam, the angel who opened her heart and her house to him at the ending. When cancer was first diagnosed, Ann insisted that Oliver move into her house so that she could be in charge of his care. I thought of his family and mine who grew up and grew older with him, and of the community of folks Oliver loved so; the old friends from Cradock; friends from the Carolina beach; friends from work and from the Lions Club who knew his great personality and his commitment to care for others. In particular, my thoughts were about those friends who would be at these final services--the extended family that Oliver made his own and a way to relieve the pain that is in our hearts.

Oliver, our father, lover, son, neighbor, brother and friend is dead. And, today is not make believe, where good always wins and heroes don¹t die-- today we feel the pain of losing one of our real life heroes.

It is not easy to know as we grieve here today that we already have a new relationship with Oliver. Our remembrances of a wonderful man, whose warmth and love helped to show us the way, will soon take the place of today¹s¹ pain and sense of loss and that place will be filled with fine golden memories.

Even now, he is a part of our best memories.

He will be remembered as a gentle man of unfailing courtesy, and good manners and overriding kindness. When deciding whether to be right or be kind, Oliver always decided to be kind. This is a legacy he leaves us…kindness.

He will be remembered for his delightful sense of humor, a quick intelligence, keen wit and laughing eyes. Oliver loved a good story and could tell one.

He will be remembered as loyal...if you were Oliver Hawkins¹s friend, you had a great friend and you knew it. He was my friend and he never let me down.

He will be remembered as loving protective father. Paige and Jeff received a special gift of a special brand of love from a loving, caring daddy.

He will be remembered for showing those who knew him as he suffered through his final disease that the capacity of the human spirit is infinite. He hung on against odds and beat back a disease that would have claimed a weaker man quicker, and cheered all of us who were down in the dumps during his sickness. He will be remembered for strength and courage.

I have known Oliver for half a century. We were friends from our schooldays beginnings. We played football together through high school. Oliver was a gifted athlete and student leader. He was named to the All-City Football Team and quarterbacked our Cradock team to a 7-3 record with the three losses. Only 14 points separated us from a perfect season. We were amazed with his ability to accomplish so much. He was a good student, our class president for four years and an officer of the school student government. Back then, he was known and respected by everyone and he kept that personal quality his entire life, through service in the Marine Corps and at Procter and Gamble during a successful sales career. He earned respect without making demands. This is his legacy…“R-E-S-P-E-C-T”

When his old classmates realized that Oliver was sick there was an outpouring of cards and emails and visits. I have a few typical excerpts to read. There were a great many more:
“You were the most popular, friendliest, most athletic, best looking guy in our class. I don't think there was anyone in the class of '57 that didn't admire you.”

“... you've been in my thoughts and prayers since the first of the year - when I heard about your sickness. I have you on my daily prayer list. And I pray God will comfort you and bring you peace...”

“This makes me so sad! I have known Oliver since we were in elementary school and I always thought he was a great person. It is hard to believe that someone who was always so big and strong could be beaten by cancer. He will be greatly missed.”

“Oliver was full of life and energy when we were youngsters. He never had anything but an irrepressible laugh and a big smile for everyone he met. He touched many lives when he was our class leader, a superb athlete, and best all around guy.”

“My thoughts are with you every day of this struggle. If ever there is something that I can do for you, anything, please call me.”
His old friends loved him. His new friends loved him. He lived a life that makes me proud to have been his good friend. Oliver leaves us with loving memories. His wonderful legacy is a legacy of love.

It comforts me to know that we are spiritual more than mortal beings and that beyond this spirit¹s mortal mask is immortality, which fire, cannot burn, water cannot wet, wind cannot dry, weapons cannot cleave, sickness cannot destroy. The spirit is ancient, unborn and never dies. Oliver¹s spirit will be with us always. It is eternal. It cannot die.

And finally... nearly 375 years ago the English Poet, John Donne, wrote his epic poem, DEVOTIONS. The poem begins with the phrase… “No man is an island unto himself” and ends with the equally well-known words…

“Do not send to know for whom the bell tolls---it tolls for thee”.

I know that today the bell is tolling for me.

Farewell Oliver, my brother, I have loved you mightily…always…and I love you now.