Howard Charles Hawkinson, 87, of Oak Park, died on Dec. 24, 2012 at West Suburban Hospital. Born on April 5, 1925 in Aurora, he graduated from East Aurora High School in 1943. He enlisted in the Air Corps before the commencement ceremony and served until the end of World War II.
He completed his bachelor's degree from Aurora College, went on to obtain a master's degree from Northern Illinois University, and completed two years of study toward a doctorate.
Beginning his career as an educator at McCleery School in Aurora, he became principal at Aurora's Smith School and went on to become a longtime principal at Hatch School in Oak Park. He was loved and admired by all who knew him and always had a smile on his face and a good word to say about everyone.
"He was one in a million, truly," said his daughter, Kathy Erickson. "When I was growing up, I always took it for granted that men in general, and husbands in particular, were considerate, kind and willing to pitch in. He used to whistle when he volunteered to wash the kitchen floor for my mother while she was cleaning house on the weekends after they both worked a long, hard week in their early 'salad' days, when he was juggling a job and going to college at the same time.
"They always sat up in the evenings and talked together as if they were on their first date, and even recently, when they'd come to my house to stay a night or two, I'd hear them chatting downstairs together in the morning. They met when they were only teenagers and grew up in the same town, and Dec. 27 would have been their 66th anniversary.
"Even while he was struggling with discomfort in the hospital, his first concern was for my mother, his Nellie. The nurse was in the room when he woke up one night, looked over at my mother, and told her that she was beautiful and he loved her, and of course, she told him back, and the nurse said it was one of the most touching things she had ever seen because it was so heartfelt."
Howard Hawkinson is survived by Nell, his beloved wife of 66 years; his children, Kathy (Judd) Erickson, Susan Nelson, and James (Emilia) Hawkinson; his grandchildren, Robyn Nielsen and Jeffrey Kerr; his great-grandchild, Liam Nielsen; and his sister, Jean Gray.
A memorial service will be held at St. Giles Catholic Church in Oak Park on Saturday, Jan. 12, with visitation at 10 a.m. and Mass at 11 a.m.
In lieu of flowers, the family kindly requests any donations be made to Mercy Home for Boys and Girls, 1140 W. Jackson Blvd., Chicago, IL 60607.