Richard Wilson Hawkins

Richard Wilson Hawkins

Richard Wilson Hawkins, 70, of DeWitt passed October 23, 2018. Richard was born in Swickley, Pennsylvania on February 26, 1948.

How do we provide a ledger of someone’s life? We don’t. We live in the memories. This is a snapshot. There is always room for mystery.

Richard was an educator. He graduated from the University of Michigan with a teaching degree and taught 37 years at DeWitt Public Schools. He believed that one of his greatest callings was working with the DeWitt Education Association as Union President and serving on the MEA Board of Directors.

He was an avid bicyclist, from yearly inn-to-inn bicycle trips in Vermont, to his bicycle trip of a lifetime which took him from Astoria, Oregon to Bar Harbor Maine one summer. Raising money for multiple sclerosis pushed him to complete the physical challenge of running two Detroit Free Press Marathons and biking many MS 150 bicycle rides.

Playing the trumpet in high school to marching with the University of Michigan Marching Band as one of the “Marching Men of Michigan,” led to his love for U of M football and 30 plus years of season tickets and watching the Michigan drumline. Go Blue!

He believed in the democratic process, and celebrated the election of Barak Obama as one of the greatest triumphs for our country. He abhorred racism. He believed in civic responsibility. He knew we could do better as a nation.

Richard never gave up on the belief that he could beat CNS lymphoma. He had unwavering faith in his University of Michigan medical team, and faced every setback with dignity and grace and optimism.

Richard is survived by his wife Nancy, his brothers Robert of Englewood, FL and Gary (Connie) of Boulder, CO; nieces Karmean Bellhorn, Lisa (Raghavendar) Komula, Lisa Hawkins Johnson and nephews Kyle Hawkins and Dylan Putnam Smith. He was preceded in death by his parents.

A life well lived. A Celebration of Life will be held Tuesday, October 30, at 3:00 pm at Christ United, 100 West Webb Road, DeWitt, MI, 48820. In lieu of flowers, please send donations to the Sierra Club Michigan Chapter. Fond memories and expressions of sympathy may be shared at for the Hawkins family.


  • Sierra Club Michigan Chapter


  • Celebration of Life Tuesday, October 30, 2018

Richard Wilson Hawkins

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Glenn Carr

November 15, 2018

So sorry to here of Rich's passing. I met Rich in 1970 as we worked together at Michi-lu-ca, a Lutheran Church camp in Northern Michigan.
I knew him to be a warm and fun loving person, always upbeat and with a smile.

Gary McGovney

November 8, 2018

Richard Hawkins had a profound impact on me and on DeWitt High School during my time there as a student from 1979-1983. He anticipated the huge impact computers would have in the future and the need to teach their use well before college, so he successfully lobbied the administration to purchase the school's first personal computer and created an independent study program for me to learn how to use it with him.

He took a few courses at Lansing Community College and convinced me to as well. When fellow teachers asked him if that was a good idea, after all how would he feel if I got a better grade than him, he replied that nothing would make him prouder or happier. I believe that response best sums up his approach to learning and teaching; he believed and lived the ideal that teachers should strive to make their students as successful as possible - learning with them and encouraging them to push even farther if they can. When I saw computer labs cropping up at DHS on return visits after graduation, I knew exactly who was responsible and I'm know our (at that time) little school benefited greatly from Mr. Hawkins’ efforts and foresight.

As a student I did not know much about his outside life, so I'm thrilled to read some of these other memories and hear that it was full of the friends, activities, passions, and love that he richly deserved. He has certainly left a legacy of passion for lifelong learning and fascination with science and technology in this former student, and I’m sure in countless others as well.

Michael Soltysiak

November 1, 2018

Hawk was the very best of any friends that I have in my life. His professional integrity was unquestioned. He was the man that you wanted in your corner when life's difficulties arose. Over forty-four years that I knew the Hawk, we skiied and camped together many times. When we weren't solving the worlds problems at the Tarry Town(Vics and Draft House), Chi-Chis, Reno's or at a Sci-Tech Faculty Club Meeting, Rich was always available as both a professional colleague, and best of all, as a close and trusted friend. His insights and problem solving abilities were unmatched and invaluable. I wish that I could personally convey to every young teacher at DeWitt the debt of gratitude that they owe this man for the collective bargaining agreement that contributes so largely to the success of the educational community of DeWitt. The turn-out of forty-four years of teaching colleagues at his memorial attests to the high regard held by all. Please accept my best regards, and sympathies Nancy for your loss of Richard. I will miss him, but I will never forget his friendship. His friendship will continue to govern and improve my life until I too can one day say, Hakuna Matata! Mike(Betsy) Soltysiak, Savannah, Georgia

Tom Zielaskowski

October 30, 2018

I met Rich in 1975 at the DeWitt Middle School. He was a physics teacher and I did a little of everything. I was always impressed with his passion for the Union and his leadership benefited the teaching staff. Very unselfish man. His cross country skiing was a treat to watch with those short legs. He once fell and did a face plant and Barry and I never let him forget it. My sincere condolences to Nancy and his family. Rich left this world a better place. He will be missed but never forgotten. I wish his family the best.

Leila Whitinger

October 30, 2018

To Nancy and Rich's family members:

I first met Rich when he was a beginning teacher in DeWitt and over the years, we became good friends. During his first few years in DeWitt, we carpooled to work and I learned a lot about his family members, his goals and ambitions. We remained good friends for many years until I left Michigan for another job. He was a good communicator and even though I was living in Minnesota during his bicycle trek across the country, I was able to keep up with his progress via the internet. Rich was a unique individual and I know that all of you will miss him.
I regret that I am unable to attend his memorial services but I want to share my condolences and let you know that you are in my thoughts.

troy creed

October 28, 2018

I have known Richard since the third grade at Horsebrook elementary school. We went to CW Otto Jr high and then JW Sexton. I hadn't seen Rich for 50 years until our class reunion at Reno's. Same guy I knew so long before. A big smile, like he knew something about me. But he was ok. I'm so sorry and my condolences go out to his family. Rest easy Rich.


Dr. Gregory Mann

October 28, 2018

Rich was part of that awesome Trumpet section and a good friend. Always quick with a joke, I remember him fondly and wish his family my heartfelt sympathies.