Dolan Gene Hawkins, 85
A celebration of life for Dolan Gene Hawkins, 85, a 1956 graduate of Gainesville High School, will be held at 10 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 18, 2023, at the Chapel at Maranatha Village in Springfield.
He died Oct. 29, in Springfield. He was born May 26, 1938 in Grabeel to Richard and Thelma (Nance) Hawkins. Growing up on a dairy farm in the hills and hollows of the Ozark mountains instilled a love for the land and hunting and fishing. He went to Council Grove (also known as Grabeel), a one-room schoolhouse. He attended church from a young age, never missing a Sunday at Franklin Grove Missionary Baptist Church till he graduated from high school in Gainesville and began attending college at the School of the Ozarks.
Dolan also attended Ouachita Baptist University where he discovered a sport that was not available to him in high school, football. This changed the course of his life, and he became a teacher, coach and referee. For a season during this time, he was the first white coach of a black football team in the Arkadelphia, Arkansas area, stepping in when their coach couldn’t continue. After his own college practice, he would run several miles to coach this team. He purchased blazers for each player with his own money.
He eventually graduated from the University of Arkansas with a Bachelor of Science degree in education. There he played football as a walk-on for the Arkansas Razorbacks, even playing in a Cotton Bowl game. Coach Hawkins taught and coached at Hampton, Arkansas, Prairie Grove, Arkansas, Lockwood, Ava, Butler and Rogersville – and not just football but also basketball, track and golf. Highlights of his career were starting the football program (including constructing the field) at Rogersville, and a 1967 Missouri state championship in track and field plus a winning streak encompassing several football seasons while at Lockwood.
During his years as a coach and teacher he would take summer jobs to help make ends meet, jobs like driving truckloads of dynamite cross country or teaching drivers' education. He wasn’t sure which was the more dangerous.
At the age of 39, the course of his life changed again when he suffered a heart attack while officiating a basketball game. He could no longer coach.
After the heart attack, one of his favorite jobs was delivering limousines built by Executive Coach Builders of Springfield, all over the U.S.. He ran for congress in 1976. He also founded Hawk-Eye Hunts going back to his love of the land and hunting. He guided hunting trips for deer, wild turkey, wild boar, elk, moose and bear into his 70s. At one time he personally held the record for the #1 atypical and #3 typical turkey.
For 30 years he and his wife Shirley were “winter Texans” wintering in South Padre Island, Texas, where they were active in a local church including missions to Mexico. Together they formed lasting friendships while Dolan taught Sunday School as well as played Santa, spoke at juvenile detention centers and handed out hundreds of Spanish Bibles. He had a heart for the lost and never met a stranger. If he did, he'd introduce himself, tell them a joke and hand them a Bible.
A walk in the woods, hunting, fishing, family, friends, road trips and Jesus; these were loved by Dolan. Throughout his life he was known as a loving son, brother, husband, father, uncle, Papa, friend, coach, mentor and guide, as well as a teller of tales, a puller of pranks and an aficionado of "Dad jokes."
He is survived by his loving wife, traveling companion, fishing buddy and best friend Shirley (Edwards) Hawkins. They recently celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary. He is also survived by his children: Kimberly and husband Wayne Swigut of New York, Jennifer and husband Owen White of Little Rock, Arkansas, Eddie Spain and wife Becky and Tammy and husband Kirk Watson, of Springfield; grandchildren: Jacob Spain, Luke Spain, Alex Spain-Wilson, Joshua Swigut, Kyle Watson, Devon (White) Kalkbrenner, Jesse White, Dallas White, Miranda White and Francisco and Jamie Reyes Medley; 12 great-grandchildren; sister Peggy (Hawkins) Mullins of Springfield; and brothers J. D. Hawkins and wife Sharon of Punta Gorda, Florida, and Joe Hawkins and wife Karen of Nixa; as well as nieces, nephews, and cousins as well as many friends.
He was preceded in death by his parents, his daughter Stacy Hawkins and his grandsons Francisco and Jamie Reyes Medley.