By John Pierce
Aubrey L. Hawkins approved my employment although I was young, single and nearing seminary graduation. It was the middle point that had stirred some curiosity.
In general terms, he had indicated to my immediate supervisor, D. Eugene Briscoe, his belief that married persons made better campus ministers. But he apparently had changed his mind or was open to exceptions. (Later I joked with single colleagues hired after me that my hand was on their open door.)
Apparently, relationships were more important than any unwritten rules to him — and we had one. It grew during the summer between my college graduation and the beginning of seminary. I served on the staff of the First Baptist Church of Roswell, Ga., where Hawkins, his wife, Mary, and their son Lamar were active members.
So, yesterday, when my close friend and longtime colleague, Bill Neal, called to inform me that our former boss had just died at age 93, some of those memories returned quickly. And they brought heartfelt thanksgiving.
We all have unique personality characteristics and Aubrey Hawkins was no exception. I will always remember how he began his phone calls to me:
“Pierce. Hawkins here.”
That was it, and then on to whatever subject was at hand. I even used that approach at times with colleagues who always laughed and knew exactly where it came from.
While the details are blurry, I also remember how his long career with the Georgia Baptist Convention did not come to a screeching halt. He retired; came back, and then took on some other role, I believe. Somehow, I have memory of attending his retirement dinner — for the third time.
What I remember most about Aubrey L. Hawkins, however, is that he was kind and supportive of me from my student days through my various career moves. Even after I became editor of Baptists Today his financial support of my work came to our office through the years.
Today, I’m remembering Lamar, Carol and Linda, and other members of the Hawkins family as they prepare to celebrate the long and fruitful life of this good man — and am praying for their comfort and peace as they say goodbye to his earthly presence among them.
And I’m also imagining his arrival at the pearly gates: “Peter. Hawkins here.”
(Here is a link to the obituary.)