Bill Hawk was a man of small stature, but his heart and soul matched Big Sky country. On Saturday, Dec. 8, 2018, he said his loving goodbyes to his wife, his son, his grandson, his goddaughter/stepdaughter and other close friends and family. Bill was born on his grandfather’s ranch near Chadron, NE, on June 24, 1935, to John William Hawk and Juanita Parker Hawk. A lifelong learner, Bill started his amazing scholastic career in a one-room schoolhouse until junior high, when they moved into town. After graduating from Chadron Prep High School, he earned his BA from Yankton College. He headed to Chicago Theological Seminary and the Univ of Chicago Divinity school, graduating in 1962.
Bill quietly and warmly welcomed everyone in his presence; he engaged people of all ages. Bill’s lifelong calling to connect with people through ministry started officially in a small church near Yankton, SD, in the 1950s and never ended. For the last several years, he continued to be inspired by the fellowship of a group here in Billings, “Spirituality On Tap.” A hardworking man, Bill’s 62-year career officially began with his first church in Hardin, and he delivered his last sermon at the First Congregational Church UCC in Billings on July 1, 2018. He also served in UCC churches in Tonasket, WA; Weiser, ID; Waimea (Kamuela), HI; Canandaigua, NY; and Helena, Fairfield, Power and Billings. Bill was a talented man, but it took him a few tries to get the hang of retirement, so he also accepted interim positions in Red Lodge and Puako, HI.
Bill’s family tree gets complicated because he chose to include so many in his family embrace. In 1958, Bill married Shirley Schmeckel. They had two children, Terisa (Kevin) and Kelly (Brian). He later married Sondra Simmons and loved her son, Rodney, as his own. Sondra’s grandson, Thom, was an important part of Bill’s life. In 2004, he married Janet Stickney and included her family in his caring and humor, and cherished her grandkids with an especially open and loving heart.
Bill experienced loss. He is predeceased by his parents; his daughter, Terisa; his son, Rodney; and too many more loved ones. He is survived by his wife, Janet Stickney Hawk; his son, Kelly (Brian); Terisa’s husband, Kevin. His siblings survive: Carma Anderson, Mary Ann Poppe (Eldon) and Jim (Jeryl) Hawk. Bill leaves dozens more children and grandchildren and very close friends he gathered into his family throughout his life.
Bill loved the outdoors, and all things nature. He was a farmer, a hunter and a passionate woodcarver. His talent was seeing what was already in the wood and using his tools to let it show. He volunteered at Compassus and enjoyed sharing his knowledge and love of art as a docent at the Yellowstone Art Museum.
Bill’s quiet strength will be missed. He was nonjudgmental, yet justice issues were primary for him. He was a lifelong minister but did not believe anyone needed to be “saved,” because they had been blessed at birth and God’s blessing continued to grace each of us our whole lives. This is why his first chosen hymn is “Just as I Am.”
Memorials may be made to: Billings First Congregational UCC, Yellowstone Public Radio or Yellowstone Art Museum.
A memorial service will be at 1 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 15, at First Congregational UCC, 310 N. 27th St.
Cremation has taken place and his ashes will be scattered at a later date.