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Carrie Hawkins
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Carrie Lee
1927 - 2020
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Obituary for Carrie Lee Hawkins

Carrie Lee  Hawkins
Carrie Lee Hawkins died on Wednesday, January 22, 2020, in Baptist Memorial Hospital after celebrating her 93rd birthday the previous day. A committed person of faith, she lived her life in thought, word, and deed fully according to the Christian creed. She ended her physical life with the assurance of entering into the presence of the Triune God and becoming part of the Communion of Saints.

A resident of Starkville since 1965, she was born January 21, 1927, in Amite County to Hattie and Jehu Brabham as the fourth of six children. She spent most of her childhood in Magnolia, where her father served in various capacities as a public servant. Upon the ending of her father’s term as Sheriff of Pike County, the Brabhams returned to the family farm in the Gillsburg community of Amite County, where she assisted with operating the family’s general store and family farm.

After graduating from Gillsburg High School, Carrie attended Louisiana State University, where she studied social work, had a class with the renowned historian, T. Harry Williams, and developed deep relationships with classmates she maintained all her life. After attending an LSU football game with Merrill Hawkins, the two quickly became a couple and married in 1946. They were happily married for 55 years until his death in 2001. Leaving LSU to make their first home in Gillsburg, where Merrill served as school superintendent, Carrie finished her education with an undergraduate degree at Mississippi State University and a master’s degree from the University of Mississippi, both in elementary education. After their first married years in Gillsburg, the couple lived in Mars Hill and in Centreville, where their first child, Jane, was born. In the mid-1950s, the couple moved to Vicksburg, where Merrill served as superintendent and Carrie taught at Grove Street Elementary School and Bowmar Avenue Elementary School. While in Vicksburg, the couple’s second child, Merrill Jr. (Mel) was born. In 1965, the couple moved to Starkville, where Merrill served as Associate Dean and Dean of Education at Mississippi State, and Carrie taught fifth grade at Sudduth Elementary, followed by several decades as a third grade teacher at Emerson Elementary School, retiring in 1989. As a teacher both in and out of the classroom, she touched the lives of hundreds of children, none more so than her four grandchildren who adored their grandma.

Carrie had an emergency surgery for colon cancer in the summer of 1986, followed by chemotherapy treatments. In 1989, she had a second emergency surgery for complications from advanced and undiagnosed non-Hodgkins lymphoma and began a second chemotherapy treatment. With survival uncertain, she gave strict instructions on the gifts she wanted given to her two grandchildren on their birthdays for years to come. She surprised her doctors twice, beating cancer and surviving to see those two grandchildren grow to adulthood, two more grandchildren born and grow to adulthood, and meeting and playing with her two great-grandchildren, who similarly adored her.

Carrie was a dedicated Christian and active member of churches in every community in which she lived. In her youth, she was a member of First Baptist Church of Magnolia and Mt. Vernon Baptist Church of Amite County, where she made a profession of faith and was baptized in the Amite River. After marriage, she was a member of Mars Hill Baptist Church and Centreville Baptist Church and joined Crawford Street United Methodist Church when the couple moved to Vicksburg. When Carrie moved to Starkville, she became an active member at First United Methodist Church, where she served in numerous lay capacities, including a term as Chair of the Pastor Parish Relations Committee. Merrill and Carrie were active members of the Wesley Fellowship Sunday School Class. In recent years, she “attended” Sunday services through FUMC’s television ministry and gave strict instructions for no telephone calls during both the 8:30 and 11:00 televised services.

She was an avid Bridge player and an active member of social and professional organizations throughout the years to name a few, University Women’s Club, Junior Auxiliary of Vicksburg, PEO, and Rotary Ann auxiliary of the Rotary Club. She was a strong supporter of Meals on Wheels, both financially and physically, as she delivered meals for many years until she was physically unable to do so.

As was her wish, until her final days, she continued to live at the home where she raised her children. The family thanks her loving and dedicated caregivers: Ann McMillan, Danette Purnell, Edna Purnell Hill, Tammy Purnell Lanier, and Pauline Brooks.

Carrie Hawkins was preceded in death by her parents and her brothers and sisters, Elaine Denson, Welton Brabham, Alex Brabham, Mike Brabham, and Yvonne Brumfield. She is survived by her daughter, Jane Smith, and son-in-law, Bill, of Jackson; her son, Merrill Hawkins, Jr., and daughter-in-law, Kimberly, of Dandridge, Tennessee; her grandson, Lucien Smith and wife, Bethany, of Jackson; her namesake granddaughter, Carrie Virginia Smith, of Athens, Georgia; her namesake granddaughter, Anna Lee Hawkins, of Dandridge, Tennessee; and grandson, Conner Merrill Hawkins, of Dandridge, Tennessee; and by great-grandchildren, Liam Smith and namesake McEwen Lee Smith, of Jackson. She is also survived by special sister-in-law and dear friend, June Brabham of Shreveport, Louisiana, and many nieces, nephews and extended family members.

Visitation will be held on Sunday, January 26, 2020, from 1:00-3:00 at First United Methodist Church Starkville, followed by a service of death and resurrection at 3:00. Graveside services will immediately follow at Memorial Garden Park Cemetery.

Memorials may be made to the Carrie and Merrill Hawkins Education Scholarship Fund, c/o Mississippi State University Development Foundation, P.O. Box 423, Mississippi State, MS 39762 or First United Methodist Church Starkville.

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