Howard J. Hawkins
March 31, 2008
Howard Jonathan Hawkins was born in Berlin, NH on May 8, 1913. He was the fifth of six children born to Charles A. Hawkins of Fredricton, N.B. and Rose E. Wilkinson of Sherbrooke, P. Q. Howard was educated in the Berlin Public Schools where he learned the printer’s trade and graduated from high school in 1931. Being a young entrepreneur, he established his own printer shop in the cellar of his family home and paid his way to Keene State Teachers College. In 1939, Howard joined the Prudential Insurance Company.
Howard married Edith Lorette Chouinard of Berlin on September 14, 1940. In lieu of a wedding, they eloped and purchased their life-long home on Harding St. where they have lived together for over 66 years. They have two daughters; Gail and Cynthia.
Howard was drafted into the Army in February 1944 and was trained to be a rifleman in the 301st Infantry of the 94th Division. In September of 1944, he left for Europe aboard the Ile de France, a luxury liner that had been converted into a troop ship. He fought in the trenches of Northern France and marched across France into Germany and Czechoslovakia. On Christmas 1944, he marched into Belgium and fought in the Battle of the Bulge. Howard was decorated with the Bronze Star Medal for saving his commanding officer of the battlefield. He also earned the Combat Infantry Badge and Good Conduct Medal, an EFO ribbon with a 4 Battle Stars and the Victory Medal.
In November 1945, Howard returned to his family in Berlin and resumed his job with Prudential, selling life and accident insurance policies. His long held beliefs in the intrinsic values of life and the protection of family inspired Howard’s success as an Insurance agent. He held the position of staff manager of the Berlin office for 25 years and worked a total of 33 years for the company. Howard received several awards during his long career and retired from the company in 1978 when he was 64 years old.
Howard and his wife Edith shared a lifelong concern for the welfare of others. Together, they held fast to deeply rooted humane values…a profound respect for all individuals and support of a free-thinking, democratic society. They were truly generous with their energy and resources and genuinely hospitable towards virtually everyone who stepped over the threshold into their home. Edith and Howard hosted many an inquiring mind at their dinner table and on occasion opened their home to volunteers who worked for “political hopefuls”. During the years that their daughters attended Berlin Public Schools, the Hawkins’ family hosted several exchange students. One of the students, Nessim Bensoussan, and his wife Nicole continue a close family relationship to this day. Many years after Ben lived with the Hawkins family, Ben and Nicole’s daughter was married in the living room of Howard and Edith’s home.
Throughout his life, Howard was fervently active in the Methodist Church community. He and his wife hosted many a minister and his family in their home and helped them to integrate into the Berlin community. Howard was considered to a “true pillar” of his church community. He continued to be the treasurer for the Methodist church until the late fall of 2007. Howard and Edith did all that they could do to insure the survival of this dwindling church community. Howard was thoroughly committed to community service and devoted himself to church and school organizations, service clubs and charitable organizations. He was a community representative on the Staff Development Committee for the Berlin Public Schools. He sat on the board of AVH Mental Health and was a member of the AVH Building Fund Committee. He was also chairman of the Red Cross and president of the United Way. Howard felt that a good education was the birthright of every human being and dedicated much of his time to projects that furthered financial possibilities for young people to receive the education that they deserved. He joined the Rotary Club in 1947. He was twice the president of the club and remained an active member until the end of his life. In 1997, he was honored with the esteemed Paul Harris Fellowship Award; “In appreciation of tangible and significant assistance given for furtherance of better understanding of friendly relations among the people of the world.”
Howard believed strongly in the cornerstone principles of The Salvation Army. He felt that, “service is how we earn our space in this world.” He once said, “I’ve been lucky, but, how many others? The least we can do in this world is to give a little of ourselves as thanks for what the good Lord has given us.” Howard was an active volunteer for the Salvation Army for over 40 years., was a long-time member of the Salvation Army Advisory Board and was the Drive Chairman for the Salvation Army Building Fund Drive in 1974. Along with his good friends, Freddie Prince and Channing Evans, he devoted countless hours to fundraising for the Salvation Army, United Fund, United Way and the Rotary Club. Howard was a quiet man with an understated sense of humor, who understood the power of persuasion when it was inspired by a good cause. He continued to fund-raise for the Salvation Army and Rotary Club until the end of his life. In later years, Howard single-handedly sold more raffle tickets than any member of the Salvation Army and the Rotary Club. Many a friend and family member benefited directly from Howard and Edith’s generosity.
In the spring of 1981, representatives from the service clubs, charitable organizations, church and school organizations and nearly 100 friends and family members gathered at the Town and Country to honor Howard for his years of devoted community service. Although Howard and Edith traveled several times through Europe and for several years traveled to Florida, their home and commitment to the Berlin community remained the foundation and central focus of their long life together.
Howard is survived by his wife of 67 years, Edith L. Hawkins; two daughters Gail A. Horton of New York, NY and Cynthia J. Roussel of Paris, France; a younger brother Charles Hawkins who resides in Florida.
Funeral services will be held on Wednesday April 9, 2008 at 11:00 AM in the Chapel of the Bryant Funeral Home, 180 Hillside Ave., Berlin. Interment will be in the New City Cemetery. Relatives and friends may call at the funeral home on Tuesday evening from 7 to 9 PM. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Salvation Army, 15 Cole St., Berlin, NH, 03570 or to AVH Home Health and Hospice, 59 Page Hill Rd., Berlin, NH, 03570.