Mary Alice Hawkins

Mary Alice Hawkins

by Allen Johnson

Mary Alice Elrod was born in Hamilton Ohio in 1921.  She was the youngest of four children.  Her father, Ezekiel Elrod, was a Methodist minister whose assignment was to pastor in churches that were struggling—financially, politically, and spiritually.  Mary Alice’s mother, Clare, was the church organist and pianist.  The family would usually stay at one church for about three years until it was time to move on to the next troubled church.

Mary Alice began her college education at Union College in Barbourville, Kentucky, just 70 miles west of her hometown, Benham, Kentucky.  Graduating with a B.S. in 1952, she majored in education with emphasis in vocal music, her first love.  It was easy to see that she was very active in college.  Here’s a synopsis of her activities:

Chairman Freshmen Orientation Committee, Who's Who Among Students in American Universities and Colleges, U.C.C.A., B.X.A., I.R.C., W.A.A., Treasurer and Reporter for Playlikers Club, Special Speakers Bureau, Choir, Band, Double Quartette, "Family Portrait," "Glass Menagerie," "Hedda Gabler," Student Drama Director, American Student Leaders Publication. Profession sought: Teaching.

And then she began her master’s program.  She was half way through her master’s degree in music when the head of the department told her that she had to redo all of her course work, that she was not prepared to continue her education as a musician.  Mary Alice was devastated.  But she was also determined.  She decided to take her master’s degree in the subject of her second love, English.

In 1958 she married James Hawkins, a pharmacist.  At the time of the interview, October 2014, they were still married.  James Hawkins had two children from his first marriage.  “They were are children,” Mary Alice said.

When I interviewed her, I told her that she was a legend at McLoughlin Junior High School for being a disciplinarian and a task master when it came to grammar. “Where did that come from?” I asked.

“It came from my father,” she said.  “He was always very pedantic.  There was a proper way of doing things, and it had to be done correctly or not at all.”

From 1999-2007 Mary Alice was ordained to the Sacred Order of Deacons at the All Saints Episcopalian Church in Richland.  Her primary ministry was in the areas of pastoral care, worship, and liturgics.  When the priest was absent, her duties included delivering the sermon and conducting the Eucharist. 

I ended the interview by asking her what she enjoyed most about teaching.

“I enjoyed the kids, but I especially liked the idea of making them better writers.  That was truly satisfying.”