Vernon E. “Coach” Hawkins, Jr., age 92 of Georgetown, Ohio left this world on Saturday, May 6, 2023 at the Ohio Veteran’s Home in Georgetown, Ohio. He was the beloved husband of the late Donna Joan (Stansberry) Hawkins and devoted father of Christy (Lee) Lucas and Tracy Hawkins. Coach was the loving grandfather of Logan (Emily), Layne (Alisa), and Landen and the very proud great grandpa to his “Lil” Lorraine. Dear brother to Sue (aka Katherine) and brother-in-law to the late Daryl Stansberry and to Jane Stansberry, and had a great fondness for his many cousins, nieces and nephews.
Vern was born April 14, 1931 in Forestville, Ohio to Vernon Hawkins Sr. and Beulah (Fox) Hawkins. Vern went to Anderson High School (Class of ’49) where he was a phenomenal runner and football star. He was inducted into the Anderson Athletic Hall of Fame as Tight End for the undefeated 1948 Anderson Redskins football team and for being a long-standing school record holder in the mile run in track. When his AHS school record was eventually broken, he was thrilled for the athlete and remarked that it was about time someone beat his own time. For many years now, Anderson High School’s Track & Field Invitational, held annually, includes the famous Vern Hawkins Mile.
Because of his running talent, Vern was recruited to the University of Cincinnati Track & Field team with an athletic scholarship that gave him the opportunity to get a college education. After just two years of college, in 1951 Vern left UC and joined the U.S. Navy as the Korean War erupted. He served as an Aircraft Mechanic stationed in Bermuda. In late 1955 at the conclusion of his enlistment, Vern was honorably discharged from military service and he returned to Cincinnati. By coincidence, Vern ran into his old coach from UC who had heard Vern was back in town. His scholarship was immediately reinstated, and he returned to UC and its track team. Two years and many, many miles later, Vern graduated from UC in 1958 with a degree in education. A few months later, Vern accepted a teaching position at Georgetown High School, where he would teach for the next 46 years. He also earned a master’s degree from Xavier University in that time.
One day, Vern accepted an invitation to Community Lanes in Georgetown for an evening of bowling. While there, he met Donna Stansberry and they married just six months later. They were adventurous, fun and outgoing, and shared some pretty great stories of Corvette Club scavenger hunts. Daughter Christy arrived in 1969 followed by daughter Tracy in 1971. In 1973, Donna accepted a position as Secretary at Georgetown High School. Coach and Donna were inseparable until Donna’s passing in 2011. It was a well-kept secret that in addition to two daughters of their own, Coach and Donna opened their hearts and home to countless kids in need over the years.
In addition to teaching health and physical education, Vern really enjoyed teaching students to drive. Oh, the stories – too numerous to recount here! He had started the cross-country program upon his arrival at GHS in the Fall of 1958, and it was then that he first became known as Coach. Over the decades, he also coached track & field, basketball, volleyball, baseball, and softball – finding athletic talent and training numerous state champions - both individuals and teams. In an effort to save the girls’ basketball program at GHS, he volunteered to coach the varsity and reserve teams and developed one of the strongest programs in Southwest Ohio. Soon after, he was inducted into the Coaches Hall of Fame at the Ohio High School Athletic Association. He would later be inducted into the Georgetown High School Athletic Hall of Fame and the Brown County Athletic Hall of Fame. Coach was also a Registered Official in Ohio (cross country, track & field, volleyball) and Kentucky (cross country, track & field) and a long-standing member of the Southwest Ohio Track and Cross Country Officials Association. In 2013, he was the first Inductee into the SWOTCC Officials Hall of Fame at the DII/DIII Track & Field meet.
After his “retirement” from teaching and coaching in 1996, Coach continued officiating volleyball, cross country, and track & field. The 2021 Vern Hawkins Cross Country Invitational was his final meet as an official because Coach openly hinted that he was looking forward to just sitting back and enjoying the meets from then on. He also stayed busy after retirement working as a substitute teacher, selling the admissions tickets to volleyball and basketball games at GHS, starting and timing hundreds of 5k runs/walks throughout the community, volunteering at the Brown County Fair, supporting his grandsons in any and every adventure they sought, and regularly treating his family to Hilton Head vacations. He became a member of the F.O.E. Lodge in Georgetown in 2017, where he could be found most evenings visiting with friends.
Coach celebrated his 92nd birthday at the Ohio Veterans Home in April. On Saturday, May 6, 2023 with Christy and Tracy by his side, Coach peacefully crossed the finish line of life.
Funeral services will be held at 11:00 A.M. Saturday, May 13, 2023 at the Georgetown High School, 987 Mt.Orab Pike, Georgetown, Ohio 45121. Visitation will be from 3:00 P.M. – 8:00 P.M. Friday, May 12, 2023 at the school. Interment will be in the Confidence Cemetery in Georgetown, Ohio with military services by the Carey Bavis American Legion Post #180 in Georgetown, Ohio. The funeral service will stream live on the Cahall Funeral Homes Facebook page. The Cahall Funeral Home in Georgetown, Ohio is serving the family.
If desired, memorial contributions may be made to the Coach Hawkins Scholarship Fund c/o any First State Bank.
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