We lost one of our own, Terry G. HawkinsBy PAT BROWN,
This week I received the dreaded news that I had hoped would never come: my friend and colleague Terry Hawkins of our Dumas Clarion newspaper had lost his battle with cancer. The good news was that he would no longer face the pain and suffering he had endured these past several months.
Terry was a victim of cancer, a certain kind that attacked different parts of his body, but he put up one heck of a fight. This was actually his second battle with cancer, his first being with leukemia. This most recent bout was with a form that struck his pancreas but not the type that we are all familiar with.
Terry was a prince of a fellow, one whom we in the paper business should aspire to be like. Terry got his start at The Dumas Clarion in 1974. With a short hiatus he remained with the paper until last week. When he became too ill to drive to work his staff would pick him up and bring him to the office. But for the last two weeks before he died he was not even able to do that. He operated the office by remote.
A memorial service was held for him last Wednesday at 4 p.m. at First United Methodist Church in Dumas. Someone asked, why so late? It was simple. He wanted his staff to be able to attend if they wanted to but he knew they had to get the paper out. So 4 p.m. gave them enough time after deadline that everyone could attend if they locked up the office. Locking up early doesn’t happen very often, but for Terry they did it.
He had planned what he wanted for his service. A black lady sang her rendition of “Amazing Grace” and another favorite of mine was sung by everyone, “It Is Well With My Soul.”
I thought the preacher had missed the mark in his funeral sermon until he got to his own relationship with Terry. He painted a picture for all to see.
I was just a guest in Dumas, but many there “knew” me because of Terry’s discussions with them about me. I was really surprised, and it pleased me to know he thought highly enough of me for folks to have an idea of who I was.
I asked if it would be okay with his lady friends if I planned a reception in Terry’s memory at the office. However, I first had to get permission from Debbie Shae, the ring leader of their Rat Pack. They took personal care of Terry to the end. Their assistance included taking Terry to his doctor’s appointments, paying the bills, helping plan out all the funeral details, and whatever else needed to be done.
After some pleading they allowed me to plan the wake at the office. I did not tell them until later that I planned to speak. However, once I finished I suppose I could have passed the plate for a collection. We had applause, there was laughter and I think everyone enjoyed my perspective on my friend Terry.
I joked that he would not have officially approved of the get together but it really would have tickled him.
While I was there we had to plot the future of the newspaper, The Dumas Clarion, without Terry’s leadership. I named as new publisher a current staff member, and that pleased everyone immensely.
During the transition, which went on for a couple of months, the staff performed in a superb manner--never missing a step and more importantly a deadline.
Community members as well as former employees came out of the woodwork to help with the paper while Terry was sick, and some are still in the process of that, not with the idea of being paid but to make sure things were done properly for Terry. What a testimony to someone.
I referred to Terry as Mr. Dumas Clarion, Mr. Dumas Arkansas and a few other things, especially when I was cleaning his office. He had records since he started in 1974.
I hope someday that I can garner the respect that Terry had earned from his community. Until then we will keep plodding along.
Terry G. Hawkins