Monday, December 28, 2015
5:00 PM to 8:00 PM EST
Life Story Funeral Homes - Betzler
6080 Stadium Drive
Kalamazoo, MI 49009
Food and refreshments will be served.
At the family's request memorial contributions are to be made to those listed below. Please forward payment directly to the memorial of your choice.
Below is the contact information for a florist recommended by the funeral home.
Life Story / Obituary
James Hawkins, prankster and jokester extraordinaire, devoted and delighted father, has delivered his last punch line, and is finally resting in peace. A man with a huge heart for anyone, but especially for his son, his neighbors, and his son’s pets, Jim was always active and on the go, and was rarely seen sitting still--or without a Pepsi in hand. He loved all things fast and loud, from his beloved Washington Redskins, to his Classic ‘70s rock music. He leaves a quiet hole in our hearts, those of us who knew how large and caring his heart truly was.
Born on February 12, 1952, in East Chicago, Indiana, Jim was the third of John III and Florence Hawkins’ four children. The United States was in the thick of the Korean War and Communist suspicions, when he was born, yet most Americans were feeling more affluent than the country had felt since the 1920s. Sixty percent of American families owned cars, over sixty percent had phones in their homes, and a growing third of the population proudly displayed televisions in their living rooms. A new house cost just over $9000, while a new car averaged $1700. The United Kingdom unveiled the world’s first passenger jet, The Comet, unleashing a new mode of travel on the world. Harry Truman was President of the United States, while Elizabeth II became queen in England after her father, George VI died. Mr. Potato Head was invented alongside the polio vaccine, Kentucky Fried Chicken first opened its doors, and The Today Show debuted on NBC as the first of its kind of programming. Life was generally good in America, made even better in the Hawkins household, as they rejoiced over their new baby boy, born on the shores of Lake Michigan.
Jim’s father worked as a merchant marine on the Great Lakes, while his mother was a homemaker, kept busy by her four children. The family eventually moved to the Washington, DC area, where Jim graduated from high school in Newport News, Virginia. Always a mischievous imp, all through high school Jim enjoyed his music booming, his radios turned up loud, his muscle cars fast. After high school, Jim enlisted in the Navy, and dedicated the next 20 years of his life to serving his country through the Navy, a time period and service which he always cherished.
While he was stationed in Groton, Connecticut, he met and married Leah Hill in 1984. The next year, in 1985, they together welcomed their son, Kevin. The two divorced seven years later, in 1992, when Jim also closed his time with the Navy. The two remained close, however, committed to raising their young son together.
Upon his retirement from the Navy, Jim moved to the Grand Rapids, Michigan area, where he worked in a variety of businesses, including the dry cleaning business, and security and building services, the dry cleaning services eventually winning out. He never remarried, but was a dedicated father who greatly enjoyed watching his son as he was involved in his hobbies, including jeeping and four-wheeling. Although he never had his own dogs as a child, Jim certainly enjoyed his son’s pets, particularly his dog Tabby, whom he always kept an extra treat for. Jim continued his fascination for fast American automobiles and trucks, his favorite Classic ‘70s rock music blasting from the windows as he loved to drive fast. His favorites to turn up were 38 Special, the Eagles, and Bob Seger.
After hours, when he wasn’t driving or jamming, or hanging out with his cherished son, Jim could often be found watching his favorite television shows, from James Bond movies to Walker Texas Ranger or Matlock, with some big time wrestling thrown in for good measure--when his favorite Washington Redskins weren’t playing, that is. Although he was never truly mechanical, he enjoyed building model cars and airplanes anyway. Always fond of sweets, Jim also immensely enjoyed baking, though his friends and neighbors weren’t exactly knocking his door down for his handiwork, as he wasn’t known to be especially good at it. They did, however, enjoy simply hanging out or sharing a Pepsi with him. He enjoyed surprising them all with the Halloween CD he kept in his car, spooking his passengers when he turned his car on, one of his many pranks and jokes played on his friends and neighbors.
As he was so close with his son Kevin, and did so much with him anyway, Kevin moved in with his Dad in 1999 and lived with him through the end of his life. In 2010 they moved to Portage, Michigan and recently moved to Paw Paw. Jim underwent fusion surgery in his neck about four years ago, hoping to help with the chronic pain he dealt with. Unfortunately he never fully recovered from the surgery, an especially difficult endeavor, as sitting still was never very easy for him anyway.
Jim was preceded in death by his parents and by a brother, John Hawkins IV. Surviving him are his son, Kevin (Moni) Hawkins; his step-son, Joey Carroll; two brothers: Joe (Toni) Hawkins and Tom Hawkins; his former wife, Leah Carroll, and many nieces and nephews. You can visit with Jim’s family and friends while sharing food and refreshments with them on Monday, December 28, from 5-8 P.M. at the Life Story Funeral Home, Betzler-Kalamazoo at 6080 Stadium Drive. Services will be held there on Tuesday, December 29, and his burial will follow at Ft. Custer National Cemetery in Augusta, Michigan. Memorial donations may be made to the United Service Organization (USO) at uso.org/donate to help provide for US soldiers on active duty around the world.