Dr. Bernard Russell “Bernie” Hawley, pastor emeritus of First Presbyterian Church of Salina, died quietly in his sleep on July 19, 2010 at the Presbyterian Manor in Lawrence, Kansas from complications of Parkinson’s disease.
Bernard was born November 22, 1926 in Ludlow, Massachusetts to Dr. Charles A. Hawley and Barbara Dickinson Kimball Hawley. At a young age, he moved with his family to Iowa City, Iowa, attending the “experimental school” at the University of Iowa. The family eventually moved to Atchison, Kansas, where he graduated from Atchison High School.
He attended the University of Kansas as a Summerfield Scholar before enlisting in the Navy during World War II. During two years in the Navy, he served as a crewman on a seaplane tender. After completing his service, Dr. Hawley attended Hamilton College in New York, before returning to Kansas and graduating from Ottawa University in 1949. It was at Ottawa University, he met the love of his life, Lois Jeanne Dick, who became his wife in 1950.
After graduating from Ottawa University, he began a career in radio broadcasting as part-owner and on-air talent at KOFO in Ottawa, and on KFDI in Wichita. In 1954, he found his true calling in life was to minister to others and in 1955 he entered McCormick Theological Seminary in Chicago. During his second year at the seminary, he accepted a position working with a church in Clinton, Indiana, while continuing his studies. He graduated from McCormick in 1958 at the top of his class and was awarded a fellowship for further study. He declined the fellowship to raise his family and accepted the role of assistant pastor at Woods Memorial Presbyterian Church in Severna Park, Maryland. In 1959, he was named pastor of the church, a position he held for six years before returning to Kansas to be near family.
Dr. Hawley was called to be pastor of First Presbyterian Church of Salina in 1965. Over the course of 22 years with the church, he was instrumental in bringing the Presbyterian Manor to Salina, an accomplishment he remained proud of throughout his life. He attended ecumenical conferences in Italy, Spain, Hungary and Switzerland and upon returning shared his knowledge with the congregation and community. To enhance the spiritual health of the congregation, he led church members on tours of the Holy Land and to see the Passion Play in Germany. An active member of the community, he was a member and president of the Rotary Club. He served on the Board of Directors for McCormick Theological Seminary and the Presbyterian Manors of Mid-America. While serving at First Presbyterian Church, he was honored with a doctorate from Sterling University. Dr. Hawley retired from the First Presbyterian Church in 1987 and became an interim pastor serving congregations at San Marino Community Church and Palm Desert Community Church in California. In 1991 he and his wife retired to Surprise, Arizona.
Dr. Hawley helped America mourn the loss of the Space Shuttle Challenger crew in 1986. He was asked to officiate at the national memorial service for the seven fallen astronauts held at the Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas. In 2003, NASA once again called on him, asking him to lead a memorial service for Robert Gilruth, considered the “father of America’s human space flight program.” In June 1986, Senator Bob Dole of Kansas asked him to offer the opening prayer for the first televised Senate hearings. He had the joy of leading the wedding services that united his four children with their spouses.
Survivors include his wife of 59 years, Jeanne Dick, and their four children, of whom he was immensely proud: Dr. Steven A. Hawley of Lawrence, KS (Eileen), Dr. Diane K. Hawley of Eugene, OR (Bernard), Dr. John F. Hawley of Earlysville, VA (Kathryn), and the Reverend James R. Hawley of North Platte, NE (Amy); and two grandchildren, Jamie Lynn Hawley and Aaron Hawley. He was preceded in death by his parents, a brother Charles D. Hawley and a sister Mary B. Hawley.
A memorial service will be held at 2:00 p.m. Thursday, August 5, 2010 at First Presbyterian Church of Salina. The family suggests memorials to the First Presbyterian Church of Salina, 308 S. 8th Street, Salina, Kansas 67401.