‘A true Trojan’: Community mourns Hawkins

Published 8:23 pm Monday, September 7, 2015

Dr. R. Douglas Hawkins, shown here in his art studio in late 2014, was known for his passion for the community, the university and the arts. he passed away on Saturday, Sept. 5.

Dr. R. Douglas Hawkins, shown here in his art studio in late 2014, was known for his passion for the community, the university and the arts. he passed away on Saturday, Sept. 5.

All who knew and loved Dr. Robert Douglas “Doug” Hawkins are having difficulty in expressing the void his death has left in their personal lives and in the Troy and Pike County communities.

“We know how it feels, we just don’t know how to say it,” said Wiley White, Johnson Center development coordinator. “I only knew Doug for a few years but he was such a good soul. He was filled with love and the joy of living. He didn’t keep anything to himself. He shared all he had. He gave of himself like no one else I have ever known.”

Hawkins died on Saturday, Sept. 5, 2016, in a Montgomery hospital following open-heart surgery.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

Within an hour of his death, a sense of loss gripped the Troy community and was extended in many directions in the coming hours.

The Luverne native and his wife, Rachel, moved to Troy in 1959. He purchased the veterinary clinic where he practiced for 52 years. During his time in Troy, Hawkins was an integral member of the community. He was appointed to the Board of Trustees of Troy State University in 1980 and continued to serve closely with the university. He was a charter member of the Troy Jaycees and the Pioneer Museum of Alabama. He was a Rotarian for 52 years, a deacon at First Baptist Church in Troy and a past-president of the Pike County Chamber of Commerce. Hawkins left his handprint all over the City of Troy, Pike County and Troy University.

Troy Mayor Jason A. Reeves said the Troy community has lost a friend and one who made immeasurable contributions to the betterment of the City of Troy.

“Through Dr. Doug Hawkins’ devoted service to Troy University, he helped transform the university and the community into what we have become, impacting thousands of lives for the better,” Reeves said. “His legacy will be felt as long as Troy remains. He is simply irreplaceable.”

Troy University Chancellor Dr. Jack Hawkins Jr. said with the death of Hawkins, Troy University has lost a giant among men.

“We stand on the shoulders of giants at Troy University and foremost among these giants was Dr. Doug Hawkins,” the chancellor said. “With his passing we have lost one of the best friends and most loyal supporters a university could have. Many of the major initiatives of the university over the last 35 years, benefited from his vision and whole-hearted support.

“On a personal level, I have lost a valued colleague and friend. His support on the board of trustees was invaluable, and I always knew where I stood with Dr. Doug. He was a true Trojan.”

Lamar Higgins, Troy University Board of Trustees member, said Hawkins was a man-maker and he credited Hawkins with making him the man he is today.

“I met Doug Hawkins when I was president of the SGA at Troy University,” Higgins said. “He is the reason I am on the board of trustees.”

Higgins recalled a time when Hawkins went to the capitol to talk with Gov. Fob James about another matter concerning the university.

“He told the governor that while he was there, he wanted him to appoint Lamar Higgins to the university’s board of trustees,” Higgins said. “The governor said he would consider it, but Doug told the governor he was not leaving the office until Lamar Higgins was appointed to the board.”

When Hawkins was committed to something or some one, he saw that commitment through, Higgins said. And that commitment was extended to his family, his church, the university and his community.

“There could be no better icon for Troy and Troy University than Dr. Doug Hawkins,” Higgins said. “I have lost a true friend. All of us who knew Doug have lost a true friend.”

The Hawkins’ family shared one of their patriarch’s often-shared directives. “You come here naked and you may leave with some clothes on, but you never know how much time you have in between, so always use your time wisely.”

And, there is little doubt that Doug Hawkins used his time wisely, not only in his veterinary practice but also in his daily life, said Mack Gibson, a longtime friend.

“Doug had a passion for whatever he was doing,” Gibson said. “He was passionate about his role as a family man. He was passionate about Troy University; he was passionate about the Troy community; he was passionate about his church. He was passionate about art. He was passionate about life. How many people can you say all that about?”

Gibson said Hawkins was also a visionary.

“He could envision the way things ought to be and he went out and saw that those things got done the way they ought to be done,” he said. “Doug could get things done and he made them work in a way that benefited Troy University and the Troy community. Boy, are we going to miss that.”

Hawkins was a longtime art collector and, in recent years, he had started to paint.

“I could not believe the art the Doug was creating. It was amazing,” Gibson said. “He was beginning to develop his own style. Doug had talent. He was on the cusp of creating art you could not imagine. We have missed out on that. Doug was a dear friend. He meant a lot to a lot of people and he meant a lot to this community.”

Dr. Jean Laliberte, Troy University associate vice chancellor for development, said Hawkins was an icon at Troy University and his contributions will continue to positively impact the university for generations. “At 35 years, Dr. Doug Hawkins was the longest serving trustee in the university’s history,” Laliberte said. “He and his wife, Rachel, organized the Greek system at Troy University and he chartered the Pi Kappa Phi fraternity and served as chapter advisor for 25 years.”

Scott Hartley first met Hawkins nearly 35 years ago. “He was my (fraternity) advisor,” Hartley said. “He was the same age as my dad and was very easy to look up to, very easy to talk to.”

Hartley said Hawkins kept an open door policy for the fraternity members. “Any time one of us had a question or a problem, we could go to his office and he’d say, ‘come on back let’s talk about this.’ And, he wouldn’t delegate … he would help you get things done.”

Hartley said Hawkins’ ability to turn ideas into reality was impressive. “If he ever got an idea into his mind, he would turn it into a goal,” he said. “And it would definitely turn into a reality … whatever it was, he could make it happen.”

Hartley said Hawkins’ impact on the university and community is beyond measure. “His death is a tremendous loss for the community and for Troy University,” he said.

Not only was Hawkins instrumental in organizing the Greek system, he was also responsible in part for bringing the International program to Troy University, Laliberte said.

“Doug loved the international students and, as a Rotarian, he arranged a dinner with the Rotarians and international students each year. He was always willing to share his time, talents and treasures with Troy University.”

Laliberte said Hawkins was a hands-on individual.

“Doug was a true Trojan and a faithful and loyal friend to Troy University and to the entire Trojan family. He will be sorely missed,” she said.

Doug Hawkins will be remembered in many ways – in what he did and what he said and, most of all, in the way he lived his life.

Hawkins’ father’s best advice to him was to keep his nose clean.

By all accounts, Doug Hawkins kept his nose clean his whole life through.

What better can you say about a man?