Robert L. Hawkins, a retired University of Maryland School of Medicine researcher and deacon at Morning Star Baptist Church, died Feb. 5 of complications from dementia at Spring Arbor Senior Living in Severna Park. The longtime Catonsville resident was 94.
“He was a most passionate, sincere and dedicated member of Morning Star and he took pride in his work at our church which will continue to go on,” said Bishop Dwayne Debnam, who has pastored the Woodlawn church for 28 years.
“He was a very warm-spirited man who cared about people,” Bishop Debnam said. “He knew who he was in Jesus and it was clear in his service to God and the God he loved.”
One of eight children, Robert Leroy Hawkins was the son of Frank Hawkins, a carpenter and businessman, and Mamie Hawkins, a homemaker. He was born in Elkridge and raised on Race Road.
He attended the one-room old Elkridge Schoolhouse and then endured a two-hour commute to attend Cooksville High School. He later transferred to Frederick Douglass High School in Baltimore, from which he graduated in 1942.
He matriculated at Morgan State University, where he was a member of the wrestling and track teams. A member and president of Beta Sigma Tau fraternity, he earned his bachelor’s degree in 1952.
Mr. Hawkins then earned a degree in 1953 in laboratory science from the Franklin School for Arts and Sciences in Philadelphia.
From 1954 to 1956, he served in the Army and attained the rank of corporal.
He was married in 1954 to Lillian Ann Rideout, a schoolteacher, and the couple settled in Catonsville, where they raised their two sons.
Robert L. Hawkins was a fisherman and a nearly unbeatable Scrabble player.
Mr. Hawkins began his professional career as a medical researcher at the old Rosewood State Hospital in Owings Mills, and then became a research assistant in 1985 in the pediatric research department at the University of Maryland Medical Center.
From 1988 until his retirement in 2006, he was research coordinator in the University of Maryland Medical Center’s pediatrics department. Mr. Hawkins was the co-author of more than 20 published scientific articles.
He also obtained his real estate license and worked for the H. Williams Realty Co., and owned and operated RLH Home Tax Service, a tax preparation service.
He coached Catonsville youth league baseball and football.
“In that role he grew the organization’s reach and served as leader and mentor to a variety of young men,” wrote a son, W. Drew Hawkins, of Pasadena, in a biographical profile of his father.
He was a volunteer and vice chairman of the Western YMCA. His volunteerism earned him awards from Govs. Marvin Mandel and Harry Hughes, and the Catonsville Business Association.
In 1983, Gov. Hughes named Mr. Hawkins to the Baltimore County Board of Education, making him the first Black person to sit on the board. Until stepping down in 1989, he chaired its budget and audit committees.
The center of his spiritual life was Morning Star Baptist Church, which he and his wife joined in 1954.
During his 70-year membership in the Woodlawn church, he taught Sunday school, sang in the senior choir, was a trustee and board chairman, and was ordained as a deacon.
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The Rev. Dr. Anthony Brown, a church member for 40 years, said: “I got to know Bob and his family when I joined Morning Star. I was in my 20s, and he was one of those strong Black men who young Black men are looking for as mentors and role models, and he was the one I was drawn to and wanted to emulate.”
In addition to being an Orioles and Baltimore Colts season ticket holder, Mr. Hawkins enjoyed tending a 3-acre vegetable garden plot at his Suter Avenue home in Catonsville.
He was also a fisherman and a nearly unbeatable Scrabble player, his son said.
His wife, who later became a senior administrator for Baltimore City Public Schools, died in 1991.
Funeral services for Mr. Hawkins will be at 11:30 a.m. Saturday at his church at 1512 Woodlawn Drive.
In addition to his son, he is survived by another son, Frank Hawkins, of Delray Beach, Florida, and two grandchildren.