Dr. Bruce Hugh Hawkins, Sr. left this world on April 16, 2021. He spent his last few weeks at home surrounded by his family and friends. His sweetheart of 71 years was by his side until the end. For many years, most people knew him as Dr. Hawkins, my dentist, or Bruce, my friend and neighbor. However, since the birth of his first grandchild thirty-six years ago, he has been known to almost everyone as Pappy. Pappy was a hard-working, fun-loving man. He loved life and he loved his family.
Pappy met the love of his life at Mars Hill High School. Betty Jean Lambert stole his heart in the tenth grade and he often told people that he didn’t know what he did to be so lucky that she chose him. At the end of their sophomore year in college, Bruce and Betty decided they were meant to spend their lives together.Pappy was accepted at Emory University School of Dentistry and they moved to Atlanta in 1956 with a baby girl, Deborah, on the way. Following his graduation, there was a baby boy, Hugh,on the way. Pappy enlisted in the U. S. Air Force and theymoved to Barksdale Air Force Base in Shreveport, Louisiana. Two years later, Pappy finished his service and spent the next 32 years practicing dentistry in Mount Holly. During those years, Nana and Pappy added two more sons, Doug and then Roger, to their family.
Pappy served as a member and as President of the Mount Holly Jaycees and a member and President of the Lions Club. He was selected as the Mount Holly Young Man of the Year. He served on the Gaston County Board of Education and the Gaston County Dental Association.
When the time came for Pappy to retire, he and Nana returned to their roots, building a home in the North Carolina mountains. They found land on the Toe River and created their own special paradise where they loved entertaining family and friends who became family. Pappy took up woodturning and found great joy in turning vases, bowls and lamps. He would carry these pieceswith him and sometimes gift them to strangers.
Pappy’s favorite foods included banana pudding, fresh coconut cake and his half glass of white wine. He loved sitting on his back porch overlooking the river with a cup of coffee. He always asked why would anyone want to be anywhere else. A year after moving into their mountain dream home, Pappy was diagnosed with cancer. He never complained. He had several hospitalizations when doctors didn’t expect him to return home.He surprised everyone over and over. Fifteen years after his cancer diagnosis, Nana and Pappy lost their oldest son unexpectedly. Their faith, their love and their family carried them through the tough times and they continued to find joy in family and in each other. Pappy told Nana how much he loved her several times each day.
Pappy’s toughness inspires us. The love they had for each other lifts us up.
Pappy was predeceased by his parents, Herbert and Delilah (Buckner) Hawkins and his son Bruce Hugh Hawkins, Jr. Left to cherish his memories are his devoted wife, Betty Lambert Hawkins; his daughter, Deborah (Keith) McManus; daughter-in-law Vanessa (Hugh) Hawkins; son Douglas (Susan) Hawkins; son Roger (Denise) Hawkins; grandchildren Ashley (Josh) Kelly; Chelsea (Andy) Harley; Ashley (Nathan) Burleson; Allison (Connor) Sisk; Haley Hawkins and fiancée J.P. Wilder; Caroline (Jordan) McCumbee; Hunter Hawkins and fiancée Melissa Kuhn; Tanner (Sarah) Hawkins; River Hawkins; and 12 great-grandchildren. Bruce is also survived by half-siblings Terry Hawkins and Risee Wagner. The family wants to express our most sincere love and appreciation to Susie Hedger, who lovingly assisted with Pappy’s care.
The family will be receiving friends on Monday, April 19th from 6-8 p.m. at the First Baptist Church, Mt. Holly, NC. Funeral services will be Tuesday, April 20th (Pap’s 87th birthday) at 1 p.m. at First Baptist Church, Mt. Holly, NC followed by internment at Hillcrest Gardens Cemetery.
A livestream of the service will be aired here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X2jWvzwv9Kk
Painter Funeral and Cremation Services is serving the Hawkins family. www.painterfuneral.com
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