Conner Wayne Hawkins
August 21, 1935 – January 4, 2019
Conner Wayne Hawkins died peacefully at his home with his wife by his side on Friday morning, January 4, 2019. He was born on August 21, 1935 in Rogersville, Tennessee to the late Bart T. and Sallie Parker Hawkins.
Wayne graduated from Surgoinsville High School in 1953, and received his B.S. degree in 1957 from East Tennessee State University, where he was President of his Senior Class. He later received an MHA degree in health care administration from the University of Minnesota in 1971, completed graduate work in health systems management at Harvard University, and was a graduate of the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College.
Wayne began his VA (Department of Veterans Affairs) career in 1957 as a rehabilitation therapist at the Mountain Home VA Medical Center in Johnson City, Tennessee. From there he progressed up the VA career ladder, becoming a personnel manager in Waco, Texas, then an Associate Director at four VA Medical Centers, including Spokane, WA, Portland, OR, Nashville, TN and Dallas, TX. He was appointed Director of the Dallas VA Medical Center in 1976 where he served for 14 years. Under his leadership, the Dallas VA Medical Center became one of the VA’s flagship hospitals. Wayne came to Washington, DC in 1990 to serve as the Associate Chief Medical Director for Operations in VA’s Veterans Health Administration and became the chief operating officer in 1991 serving as the Deputy Under Secretary for Health for Administration and Operations until his retirement in 1995, capping a distinguished federal career that spanned 37 years. He was a dynamic and visionary health care executive who always put veterans first. He had a reputation as a straight shooter whose commitment to the VA health care system was unwavering.
During this same time, Wayne served in the military’s active and reserve ranks. While Director at the Dallas VA Medical Center, he was Chief of Staff of the 807th Medical Brigade and then Executive Officer of the 94th General Hospital (1,000 beds). He retired in 1987 with the rank of Colonel in the U.S. Army Reserve after 33 years of service. Wayne served in major leadership capacities in the Texas Hospital Association, the American Hospital Association, and the VA Chapter of the Senior Executive Association. In 1991 he was inducted as a Fellow in the American College of Health Care Executives.
Following his retirement from the VA, Wayne was a healthcare consultant for McManis Associates, Inc., APACHE Medical Systems, McManis-Monsalve Associates, Inc., and an independent consultant to the VA. After moving to Culpeper, Virginia in 2000, Wayne continued his public service, first on several community boards and then served on the Culpeper Hospital Board of Directors. He was also President of the Mitchells Ruritan Club.
Wayne received many honors and awards throughout his VA and military career but most significant are two Presidential Rank Awards, for Meritorious Executive by President Ronald Reagan and for Distinguished Executive by President George W. Bush, VA Secretary’s Distinguished Career Award and VA Secretary’s Exceptional Service Award, the Ray E. Brown Award for Outstanding Accomplishment in Health Care Management and the Outstanding Federal Service Health Administration Award, both from the Association of Military Surgeons of the U.S., and Exceptional Leadership Award from the U.S. Army Reserves Medical Service Corps and The Legion of Merit Award from the Secretary of the Army.
Wayne’s favorite past time in Texas and Virginia was being on the farm. His favorite saying was “he was just a country boy trying to make good.” He had a love of people, never met a stranger, and had a great sense of humor. He loved to tell a joke or story, was always positive, and what a smile! Even during his lengthy illness all these qualities were still evident. Wayne was an avid Dallas Cowboy fan, and a lover of all things sweet, especially his Blue Bell ice cream. He will be greatly missed by his family and friends but his spirit remains.
Wayne is survived by his loving and devoted wife, Patricia O’Bryant Hawkins, brother, Keith Hawkins (and wife Wanda), daughters Tamera Ashford (and husband Gary) and Sandra Hawkins, grandchildren Mindy Mendez, Nicholas Ashford and Jacob Ashford (and wife Ashton), and several great and great-great grandchildren. He was preceded in death by his brother, Bill Hawkins, great grandson, Xavier Mendez, first wife, Barbara Hawkins, and his beloved Brandy. The family wants to extend special thanks to Wayne’s caregivers, Sharon Washington, LaDonna Albert, Priscilla Reed and Robin Penn Thompson for the loving care they provided Wayne, as well as to the Hospice of the Piedmont, in particular Fannie Utz, Danielle Wallace and Julie Cox.
A celebration of his life will be held Saturday, January 19, 2019 at 1pm at the Mitchells Presbyterian Church with the Rev. John Grotz officiating. The family will receive friends for an hour prior to the service. A time of fellowship with the family will be immediately following the service in the fellowship hall. A burial with military honors will take place at a later date at the VA National Cemetery in Dallas, Texas.
In lieu of flowers, the family asks that donations be made in Wayne’s memory to the American Parkinson Disease Association (APDA), P. O. Box 801018, attention: Susan Dietrich, Charlottesville, VA. 22908.
Fond memories and condolences may be shared with the family at clore-english,com. The Hawkins family has entrusted Clore-English Funeral Home, and Driggers and Decker Family Funeral Home with these arrangements.
American Parkinson Disease Association
P. O. Box 801018 ATTN: Susan Dietrich , Charlottesville, Virginia 22908
- Visitation Saturday, January 19, 2019
- Funeral Service Saturday, January 19, 2019
Conner Wayne Hawkins
January 18, 2019
We always enjoyed our visits with "Daddy Hawk". This photo of he and Patricia was taken during a particularly enjoyable dinner at one of his many favorite restaurants in Myrtle Beach, SC. (June 2015)
I hope the many rich memories bring you great comfort.
With our deepest sympathy -
Dean and Sherry Doty
January 16, 2019
Bill and I were saddened by the news that Mr. Hawkins passed away! We knew him in the 80's when the bank where Bill and I were working partnered with the Dallas VA Medical Center to install an ATM machine at that location. The project provided many opportunities for us to meet with him in his capacity as the Medical Center Director, both at his VA office and at our Duncanville bank location. When Bill (now my husband) decided to sell his 1970 Mercedes, Mr. Hawkins became the new owner and was seen proudly driving it throughout the Duncanville area. He was always professional and friendly, easy to like and to admire.
Patricia, Tammy and Sandy, we send you and your families our thoughts and deepest sympathies.
January 10, 2019
I have many great memories of Mr. H from Annual trainings, reserve week-ends, & daily dealings with him at the Dallas VA Medical Center. I enjoyed seeing him when I worked for the House Veterans' Committee & the Washington VAMC. He made a great impression on my life as well as on so many other lives.
January 9, 2019
January 9, 2019
January 9, 2019
January 9, 2019