JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Robert "Bob" Charles Hawkes died July 15, 2012, at Haven Hospice Roberts Care Center, Palatka, Fla. He was born Oct. 23, 1921, in Biwabik, Minn., the son of Lt. Col. Howard G. Hawkes and Hazel Manchester Hawkes.
He graduated from Concord (Mass.) High School in 1940, Springfield College in 1947 and earned his master’s degree in speech and hearing at the University of Illinois in 1963. During World War II he served in the Army Air Corps as a survival aquatics instructor for three years. He taught physical education and coached several sports for six years in Wolfeboro, N.H., and at North Yarmouth Academy, and was superintendent of Opportunity Farm for Boys, New Gloucester, when he received a spinal cord injury when a hay conveyor fell on him. He was also the director of the Bangor Regional Speech and Hearing Center for 16 years before moving to Florida, where he was a speech therapist at Alden Road School, Jacksonville, Fla. Bob was an inspiration to many he met. He competed in the 1959 and 1960 National Wheelchair Games in Flushing, N.Y. He won three swimming events and was selected to the first U.S. Wheelchair Team to compete in the International Stoke-Mandeville Games – later the Paralympics – in Rome, Tokyo and Israel. He continued to compete at the master’s level in various sports for many years and he also competed in wheelchair road racing until the age of 78 and Hobie Cat regattas at the Rudder Club, Jacksonville, Fla. He served as a mentor and peer counselor to many individuals with spinal cord and head injuries. Among his many accomplishments, Bob is a member of National Wheelchair Athletic Association Hall of Fame, Sports Hall of Fame of Maine, New England Wheelchair Athletic Hall of Fame, Athletic Hall of Fame of Springfield College and North Yarmouth Athletic Hall of Fame. In 1959 North Yarmouth Academy established the Bob Hawkes Award for male and female athletes who demonstrate outstanding leadership, citizenship and sportsmanship. He received the Distinguished Merit Award from Jacksonville Track Club, Humanitarian Award from Achilles Track Club of New York, Harold Scharper Service Award from the University of Illinois, Distinguished Service Award from the University of Maine at Farmington, the Honorable Charles E. Bennett Achievement Award from Rotary Club of Arlington, Jacksonville, Fla.; Outstanding Community Service Award from the National Daughters of the American Revolution, Celebrate Independence Award from Genesis – now Brooks – Rehabilitation Center, Jacksonville, Fla., and Distinguished Alumnus Award from Springfield College. He also served as director of the Maine White House Conference on Handicapped Individuals in 1976.
He was predeceased by his wife of 64 years, Rebecca Keith Hawkes. He is survived by his son, Richard and Dawn Hawkes of Coto de Caza, Calif.; his daughter, Diantha and Donald Grant of Jacksonville, Fla.; his brother, Ted and Janet Hawkes of Portland; his grandchildren, nieces and nephews.
A graveside service will be held 1:30 p.m. July 28 at Chase Cemetery, 94 Highland Cliff Road, Windham. In lieu of flowers, he requested that donations be made to Haven Hospice, 8301 Cypress Plaza Drive, Suite 119, Jacksonville, FL 32256; the Robert C. Hawkes Scholarship Fund, Springfield College, 263 Alden St., Springfield, MA 01109 or the charity of your choice. Arlington Park Funeral Home, Jacksonville, Fla., has arranged for his cremation.