Vale John Hawkins

hawkeye's picture

By hawkeye - Posted on 13 January 2012

No, this is not about me.

Just a few minutes ago I received a difficult-to-hear phone call from my cousin Annette. Her Dad, my cousin and good friend John, was killed yesterday returning from a training ride on his road bike.

Apparently he had turned to wave to a friend, hit a pine cone and in the ensuing tumble hit his head and was killed instantly. The damage to his helmet was relatively minor, much less than Annette had seen on previous occasions.

Even though John was in his mid-70s, he was fit and highly active, continuing to work full time as a real estate agent in the Manning River valley. He was a warm, intelligent man with a wonderful dry sense of humour and a passion for bikes. His character and integrity was formed by his strong evangelical Christian world view and he continued to work well past the time when most would have indulged in retirement simply because he enjoyed the contact with people. I reckon it kept him young.

He didn't lack for enthusiasm. I used to drop by when I was in the area and, if I had my bike with me, inevitably the question would pop up with a cheeky grin "Do you wanna go for a ride?"

Out would come his trusty Giant ATX mountain bike with Thudbuster seatpost and off we'd go exploring the fire trails and singletrack around Old Bar, shooting the breeze about common interests like politics, economics, real estate, church and mission, family and children.

Hawkeyes Jr and Sr, Khappinghat State Forest

I remember once when I rang ahead to let him know I'd be coming up and we started talking about whether a ride would be on, he mentioned he'd broken his wrist falling off a ladder painting. Then, after a pause, "But that won't stop me!" "You're sure?" "Yeah, not a worry, I'll be fine!" and I could hear the grin in his voice on the other end of the line. Sure enough, we had a fun few hours climbing hills and getting lost in the forest.

Each year he used to complete a 2-day road event in the mountains behind Taree, 160km in each direction and it was the climbing parts he enjoyed the most.

His family has consented to organ donation, since his superb physical condition led the hospital staff to think he was only 45.

My regret is that due to taking up a new role at work I did not take the usual break between Christmas and New Year and missed spending time with him this year. I had planned to show him around the Kiwarrak XC circuit.

John is survived by his wife, two adult daughters and a son, and numerous grandchildren.

I miss him.

Winco's picture

I'm sorry to hear of the loss of your good friend, Hawkeye. It reinforces to me how fragile our hold on living can be and we need to remind ourselves from time-to-time the importance of 'smelling the grass' and spend time with friends and family as much as one can. Sad

Antsonline's picture

I dont know the gentleman. but he sounds like a splendid chap, and a man who was something of a legend.
The pain of his loss must be made somewhat sweeter by the organ donation story. What a terrific validation of his life choices.

I'm sure he'd have smiled - although they probably wont want his wrist!


daveh's picture what sounds like a happy life. If I am in half that condition with half that energy at John's age I will be a very happy man indeed. I remember reading your post and seeing that picture some time and looking forward to all the potential years of riding ahead of me!

I am sorry to hear of your loss but can I commend the family on their consent for organ donation. At such a horrible time it is a brave decision and I always marvel at a family's consideration of others in consenting. An example to us all to follow if we find ourselves in the same situation.

craked's picture

A loss to the cycling community,my heart go's out to you and your family John.

Hop fiend's picture

he is now in a place where the hills are steeper,the descents smoother & where you can ride all the time-RIP

ChopStiR's picture

Sorry to read about your loss, sounds like he was a great man.

Pete B's picture

Sorry to hear this John.

My thoughts go out to you and your family.

hawkeye's picture

I attended the funeral today with my son at Taree Baptist Church.

It was packed. Perhaps 400 or so people in attendance from all over, a measure of the regard in which he was held by those who knew him.

His kidneys helped two people who had been on the waiting list for four years. It's early days, but it seems the transplants were successful and the kidneys are functioning as expected and the recipients have successfully passed urine. His lungs were also successfully transplanted as so far progress there looks promising. Unfortunately the liver recipient was very sick, and didn't survive the procedure.

Apparently to be viable, the lungs need to be able to pass a rating of 300ml of oxygen (per something, perhaps someone can help me with the detail) but John's lungs either hit or exceeded 500. Not bad for a bloke of 73.

No wonder his family fondly called him "superman".

While I'm still very sad and teary about his passing, because of his faith in Christ I'm glad to say it's not "goodbye", it's "I'll see you later."

GAZZA's picture

He's just been re'cycled!
Good on Him!

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