Midland businessman remembered for generosity, patriotism and kindness
Photo: Daily News File Photo
Entrepreneur Donald A. Hawkins established a legacy of honesty and integrity in the Midland community. Donald, 98, died Thursday, Jan. 7 at Independence Village Senior Living Community.
Donald was born Nov. 28, 1922 in Bay City, to Minnie and Albert Hawkins, the youngest of three children. He served in the U.S. Army in the European Theater from 1942-45, during which time he was involved in the liberation of Belgium following World War II. Ever the patriot, Donald kept in touch with his fellow veterans and more than 50 years after the war, Donald visited the same family he had stayed with during the liberation.
After returning home from the war, Donald married Ann Adams in 1945, and had four children. Adams died in 1971, and Donald married the former JoAnn Shahin in 1977, happily adding three more children to his family. JoAnn, who survives him, recalls how Donald had a twinkle in his eye and treated his children and step-children equally.
“God has blessed us twice,” JoAnn said. “We both had beautiful first mates and we were happy, the two of us.”
In 1947, Donald got a job in The Dow Chemical Co.’s printing department in Bay City and in 1954 moved to Midland. The company faced a tough year in 1958 with a reduction in its salaried workforce. Not wanting the division to be seriously reviewed to be shut down when there was an economic downturn, Donald made the department’s services into his own business, initially called Hawkins Letter Service.
“They filled a little niche,” JoAnn said. “He loved it. He wanted to be in printing, even in high school.”
Hawkins Printing and Mailing Service provided wedding invitations, greeting cards, mass mailing services and direct mail. Donald worked for the business for 30 years before retiring in 1987. When he sold the building, his only stipulation was that the new owners raise the American flag every morning.
Donald’s involvement in the community spread to the Midland County Community Fund. He was appointed the city chairman of the 1960 fund drive, was the industrial division chairman in 1964 as well as chairman of the Health/Education/Government division of the 1968 drive. As a business owner he served on the Midland Chamber of Commerce board and was a member of Midland Economic Development Corporation.
Donald was also a member of the Midland Rotary Club – he was one of the chairs of the club’s inaugural pancake supper – Big Brothers, the Midland chapter of the American Red Cross and was active in Junior Achievement and the United Way. Donald and JoAnn contributed to many local organizations including Midland’s Open Door and West Midland Family Center.
“Don loved Midland. Midland has a warm place in our hearts,” JoAnn stated.
A funeral service was held Monday. The family plans to host a celebration of life when conditions allow for groups to gather safely in-person. Arrangements are being handled by Wilson Miller Funeral Home.