He was born in Roanoke Rapids, North Carolina July 2, 1928 to Willis Ely Hawkins, Sr. and Grace Rebecca Smith Hawkins. Bill attended Roanoke Rapids High School where he was class President, an Eagle Scout, starting center fielder on the baseball team and was named best all-around student in the senior class. Upon graduation in 1946, he enlisted in the Army Air Corps to take advantage of the GI Bill so he could afford a college education. He enrolled at North Carolina State University after completing his military service and graduated in 1952 with a BS in Ceramic Engineering. Having obtained his college degree, he immediately joined General Shale Products Corporation where he worked his entire career starting as an Assistant Plant Superintendent and retiring as President and CEO in 1993. He also served as Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Brick Institute of America during his time at General Shale.
Bill married the love of his life Ann in 1956 and had four children. He was a wonderful husband, father, and role model for his family, as well as, a true gentleman. He always had a smile on his face and was willing to listen and give advice to those who asked. He traveled the world with Ann and left a wealth of wonderful memories for her. Bill was well read and considered himself a lifelong learner.
In addition to being devoted to his family, Bill was committed to both his church and the community. His great love for Munsey Memorial United Methodist Church allowed him to serve in many leadership positions including Chairman of the Administrative Board, the Finance Committee, Staff Parish Committee, and the Building Committee. He also served on the Futures Committee and as a Sunday School teacher for 60 years.
Bill strongly believed business leaders had a responsibility to serve their community in addition to their business obligation. This belief resulted in his involvement in numerous local business and non-profit organizations. He was very involved with the medical community in Johnson City for nearly 20 years, serving as Chairman of the Board of Johnson City Medical Center and served as a Board Member and Executive Committee Member of the Mountain States Health Alliance. He also served as Chairman of the Board of Directors of Blue Ridge Medical Management and as a Board Member of the Johnson City Medical Center Foundation. He was humbled to receive the prestigious “Spirit Award” from Mountain States Foundation and also the Meritorious Service Award from the Tennessee Hospital Association.
Bill was involved in numerous other local organizations including service as a Board Member of the Foundation of East Tennessee State University, a member of the Presidents Trust of ETSU, a member of the Board of Visitors of Quillen School of Medicine, and Chairman of the Johnson City Regional Planning Commission. He also served on the regional boards of directors for First American Bank and Bank of America. For his service to ETSU and the local community Bill was named an Honorary Alumnus of ETSU, received the Milligan College Leader of Christian Service Award and was inducted into the Johnson City/Washington County Chamber of Commerce Hall of Fame,
Bill was a proud Eagle Scout and was active in scouting throughout his life. He served on the Executive Board of the Sequoyah Council of the Boy Scouts of America and received the Silver Beaver Award. He was also named a Distinguished Eagle Scout, an honor reserved for a select few.
Bill was preceded in death by his parents and his sister Betsy Lane. He is survived by Ann, his loving wife, of 63 years; his four children: Gayle Hughes (Jim), Willis Ely Hawkins, III (Jennie), Carol Ellis (Jim), and John Hawkins (Renee); his many grandchildren: Whitney Ricker (Justin), Jacqueline Montileone (Joe), Ann Louise Broome (John), Jack Hawkins, Haley Ellis, Anna Grace Hawkins, Willis Ely Hawkins, IV, and Amanda Hawkins; and his great-grandchildren: Jackson Ricker, Rebekah Grace Ricker, and Brooks Montileone.
The family will receive friends from 11:30 – 1:15 at Munsey Memorial United Methodist Church in Johnson City on Tuesday, May 21, 2019. A memorial service will follow at 1:30 pm with interment to follow at Monte Vista Memorial Park. Honorary pallbearers will be the Solon Gentry Sunday School Class.
In lieu of flowers, memorials may be sent to the Holston Conference Foundation for contribution to the Ann and Bill Hawkins Endowed Fund for the benefit of Munsey Memorial United Methodist Church at PO Box 900, Alcoa, TN 37701-0900.
This obituary was lovingly written by the Hawkins family.
Memories and condolences can be at www.tetrickfuneralhome.com. Tetrick Funeral Services is honored to serve the Hawkins family. 3001 Peoples St. Johnson City, TN 37604. (423)610-7171