Nov 20, 2017Florida fruit and vegetable leader Wayne Hawkins dies
Born in 1932 in Oakland Park, Florida, Wayne was the son of the late Eustis Lawrence Hawkins and the late Leila Grace Johnson Hawkins. After graduating from high school, Wayne served in the U.S. Air Force from February 1952 through February 1956, and then attended the University of Florida, where he graduated in 1960 with a degree in agricultural economics.
In 1962 he organized the Florida Sweet Corn Exchange and the South Florida Vegetable Exchange. A few years later he established the Zellwood Sweet Corn Exchange, the Leaf and Radish Exchange, and the North Florida Vegetable Growers Exchange. In 1974, Wayne became manager of the Florida Tomato Committee. During his 25-year tenure, he helped guide the Florida tomato industry through a time of extreme transition driven by intense foreign competition and unprecedented domestic consolidation. He encouraged cooperative action, organizing the first Florida Tomato Growers Exchange in 1989.
Wayne was also a savvy PR man, working tirelessly with the media to gain positive exposure for his industry and enhance its public image. He was an enthusiastic supporter of agricultural research, and under his guidance, the Florida Tomato Committee developed a strong working relationship with the state’s universities.
Despite the demands of his job, Wayne still found the time and energy to give back to his community. He worked with Future Farmers of America, 4-H, and other youth groups to encourage young people to enter into careers in agriculture. In the late 1990s he convinced the Florida Tomato Exchange to contribute $100,000 to the University of South Florida to establish a scholarship fund for children of migrant farm workers. Upon his retirement in 1999, he established the Wayne Hawkins Agricultural Scholarship Fund at the University of Florida for students majoring in food and resource economics.
Wayne’s leadership in the agricultural community earned him many awards and honors. In 1984 he was selected by the National Academy of Sciences to represent the U.S. tomato industry on a 16-day goodwill mission to China. During the trip he helped teach Chinese tomato farmers better growing, handling, and marketing practices. Florida Agriculture Commissioner Bob Crawford presented him with a Distinguished Leadership Award in 1999. That same year, he was given a Classic Award by the Florida Strawberry Growers’ Association in recognition of his efforts to promote the industry. In February 2007, Wayne was inducted into Florida’s Agricultural Hall of Fame.
Wayne enjoyed fishing, reading, and working in the yard.
He leaves behind his loving wife, Carole “Flea” of Orlando, Florida; his three sons: Derryl Hawkins of Orlando, Florida, David Hawkins of Palm Bay, Florida, and Drew Hawkins of Winter Springs, Florida; his daughters-in-law: Christine (Derryl), and Phyllis (Drew); his grandchildren: Amber, Jay, Sarah, and one brother, Ronnie Hawkins, and one great grandson, Sebastian Milan Hawkins.
In addition to his parents, he was also preceded in death by one sister, Martha Grace Stewart, four brothers: Larry Hawkins, Jack Hawkins, Edward Hawkins, Donnie Hawkins, and one grandson, Christopher Hawkins.
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