Richard William "Bill" Hawkins of Oil City, PA, passed away on the morning of March 23 at his residence surrounded by his family.
Bill was born on June 15, 1944, and was adopted by his loving parents, Thelma and William Hawkins. He grew up in Pleasant Hills, Pittsburgh, PA, where he made many good friends who remained important throughout his life.
On March 16th., 1966, he married his beloved Sonja (Shaffer) Hawkins. Bill and Sonja enjoyed 53 years of devotion, fun, and traveling.
Bill graduated from Thomas Jefferson High School in 1962, where he played football, ran track and was in various clubs. True to his positive outlook on life, Bill greatly enjoyed his teenage years. After graduation, Bill attended Davis and Elkins college and Clarion University, where he received his B.S. and then an M.S. Degree in Special Education. He also received an additional degree in Educational Administration from the University of Alaska. Bill served proudly in the United States Marine Corps, including a tour of duty in Vietnam.
In his early years, Bill worked in the steel mills in Pittsburgh and later was a boiler maker with the Boiler Makers Union. After returning from Vietnam and finishing his education, Bill and Sonja moved to Alaska, where they lived for 23 years, including Dillingham, Kotzebue, Kodiak, and Anchorage, where Bill taught special Education, was a school administrator, and coached football, track, and basketball. He was active in every place he and Sonja lived, helping with community activities such as the Beaver Roundup, from dog team races to the Miss Dillingham Pageant. Bill and fellow members of the "Fat Boys Club" in Anchorage pursued a never ending quest for the best burger in the city. Many of Bill's "Alaska family" remained an important part of his life over the years, and he spent many hours keeping in touch with them through technology. Bill was the kind of guy whose unflagging friendship transcended time and space.
Bill enjoyed traveling in his motor home across Canada, down the Alaska Highway, and around the "Lower Forty-Eight." He also spent time in Russia, the Philippines, and Mexico. He valued knowledge and was an avid reader. He enjoyed hunting and fishing and was able to enjoy many wonderful hunting trips in Alaska with his beloved dog Angie. When he learned geese mate for life, Bill gave up goose hunting. He couldn't bring himself to kill a "mate."
Bill was a dog lover to the core. Once, while driving his beloved Boston terriers, Mack and Mollie, who were barking up a storm in the back of his van, Bill rolled down the window and said to a neighbor, "They're idiots." Then he added with a big smile, "But they're my idiots."
Bill was a member of the Alaska Masonic Lodge 0008, The Lodge of Perfection 363, Petrolia, and was a Shriner with the New Castle Consistory, Venango County Shrine.
Once, when visiting Oil City, Bill took in an Oil City Youth Football game and was so impressed, he decided to move to Oil City to be part of the program, where he became a coach. The needs of others always motivated Bill. He was a Big Brother and worked as a social worker with Community Services. Later he became the director of In-Home Care and the Families First Network and Early Head Start. He also served on the board of the Venango County Humane Society as its treasurer. As always, Bill made more cherished friends in those positions.
Bill was a great cook who loved to entertain his friends. The Christmas parties at Bill and Sonja's were incredible. With friends around the dining room table or on the front porch, Bill lived to the fullest his favorite saying: "Every day is a holiday for me." Those few words summed up his attitude toward life.
In addition to his wife Sonja, Bill is survived by his son, Richard Hawkins, Jr. and his wife Sue and their children Weston and Bryce, of Fleetwood, PA, and by his daughter Stacie Wurster and husband Michael of Tionesta, PA, and their children Thomas and Brittany. Bill is also survived by two nephews, Gerard Hawkins and Larry Hawkins. In addition to his parents, Bill was preceded in death by his brother Gifford Hawkins.
One of Pittsburgh's favorite sons, Fred Rogers, once said that his mother told him that when times were scary to "Look for the helpers." She could very well have been talking about Bill Hawkins.
As requested by the deceased, there will be no viewing. A celebration of Bill's life will be held on Saturday April 14 at 11:00 A.M. in The Crossing Free Methodist Church, 206 Wilson Ave. with Rev. T. Christopher Hill, Pastor, Presiding.. Friends will be received from 10:00 A.M.-11:00 A.M. in the church.
Military Honors will be accorded by the V.E.T.S.Honor Guard.
The family would like to thank the staff at Asera Care Hospice for the care and compassion .
Memorials may be made to the Venango County Humane Society 286 South Main Street Cranberry, PA. or to a charity of one’s choice.