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College scholarship honors memory of trailblazing ‘woman of integrity’

Gladys Hawkins was a trailblazer.
In the 1960s, long before e-mail and Skype, she arranged meetings, kept detailed notes and did the work of the church as personal assistant to renowned minister J.S. Winston.
Back then “employment of full-time secretaries was rare, particularly in largely black congregations of the church,” said Darryl Bowdre, a family friend and minister for the South Central Church of Christ in Tyler, Texas. “Winston had hired Hawkins with a vision.”
Hawkins also had a vision to support Christian education. During her life she contributed and raised funds for the school Winston helped found — Southwestern Christian College.
Now, more than two years after Hawkins’ death, her family seeks to carry on her legacy by sponsoring a scholarship fund for young, working women to attend Southwestern, a historically black college in Terrell, Texas, associated with Churches of Christ.
Hawkins lived in Cleveland for 42 years and worked for Winston, longtime minister for the University Church of Christ, before moving west to Los Angeles. There she worked on the campus of Pepperdine University. She served on the board of the Los Angeles Bible College and was a ladies Bible class teacher at the Figueroa Church of Christ.
Calvin Bowers, minister for the Figueroa congregation, called Hawkins “great PR for the church.”
“She lived next door,” Bowers said. “She was there for late-night baptisms. If someone needed to get into the building, she was there.”
Repeatedly, the minister referred to Hawkins as “a woman of integrity.”
In the Durham, N.C., home where Hawkins spent her last years, family members have myriad plaques and awards emblazoned with her name from congregations across the country.
Despite the accolades, “her work wasn’t about a person. It wasn’t about being known,” said Karon Johnson, Hawkins’ granddaughter.
Johnson established the Gladys Hawkins Memorial Scholarship for young women who attend Southwestern. Faith Mufundisi, a Southwestern student from Zimbabwe, received the first scholarship in 2010.
Johnson speaks at women’s events across the country. She often refers to her grandmother’s legacy and accepts donations for the fund.
“She taught me how to love the Lord,” Johnson said of her trailblazing grandmother. “But she also showed me. … I am trying to honor her love for Christ by doing the same.”
CONTRIBUTIONS may be sent to the Gladys M. Hawkins Memorial Fund, c/o Karon Johnson, Southside Church of Christ, P.O. Box 3821, Durham, NC 27702. 

  • Feedback
    Gladys Hawkins, Mother Hawkins to me, was exemplary of a Christian woman worthy of being honored. Her smile lit up the room. Because of her I was an honoree at the annual L.A. Bible College banquet. Her ex-daughter in law, Margaret Hawkins, grand daughters, Karon Johnson, and Kendra Hawkins, and many others too numerous to name, loved her dearly. Margaret, Karon, and Kendra, still honor her by sharing her good deeds with others.
    Rose Allison-Singleton
    Inglewood, CA
    February, 9 2012

    Thanks for this article.
    Roxanne Ely
    Sunset Road Church of Christ
    Roebling, NJ
    February, 9 2012

Filed under: Partners Staff Reports

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