Greg Hawkins (James Gregory Hawkins, if you’re an official government document), of Pell City Alabama, died in Sacramento on Saturday, December 18, 2021, around lunchtime, which was a real shame because Greg hated missing a meal (he was proper Southern, after all). He was 65.
Greg was a devoted husband to Jan (he famously said “I woo” in 1981 during their nuptials) with whom he was married for 40 years, and father to Maggie and Mollie, whom he used to get great joy out of embarrassing at Wal-Mart by placing souvenir bicycle name plates on his forehead and singing songs for everyone within a hundred-foot radius to enjoy (though he admitted later in life that he had “a voice for print and a face for radio.”) Greg taught his daughters to appreciate the finer things in life, such as food (he grilled a mean steak), music, and safe driving techniques (head on a swivel!). He never hesitated to find the humor in any situation and made everyone around him laugh. Greg was just funny that way.
He was deeply passionate about many things throughout his life, and a very gifted saxophonist (the answer is yes: he was better than Kenny G). Music was his first love, and his playing was a mixture of classical technique and “hillbilly bebop.” He was a proud Jacksonville State University Marching Southerner alum with a classical saxophone degree. He went on to teach beginner band in a variety of schools in Alabama, and continued to do so near Sacramento, California. Ultimately, Greg dedicated himself to the art of improvisation. He played on many recording sessions and toured the United States and most of Eastern Europe playing Christian music. He committed himself to a life of love and creativity and inspired everyone around him to always follow their passions.
Greg also appreciated the fine art of piddling, watching college football, drinking black coffee (no coffee cup lids, because those are for sissies, and Maxwell House is fine, thanks), reading novels, and watching funny movies or reruns of The Andy Griffith Show with Jan. He rarely met a food he didn’t like, except liver and onions. Don’t even get him started on liver and onions. He disliked bad drivers, snooty people, and anyone talking or breathing too loudly or making any noise of any kind if a saxophone started playing on the television, radio, or far-off distance, to which he would hold up a hand and say a word simply described as, “TCHSH!”
Besides his main squeeze Jan, Greg is survived by daughter Maggie and son-in-law Xavier, their three children Diego, Sophie, and Stella; his daughter Mollie and son-in-law Todd, and their dog Gus, who was a great friend to Greg’s beloved dog and companion, Pepper. He also leaves behind mother Sue Brown, sister Cindy Rich, mother-in-law Ruby J. Clinkscales, sister-in-law Joanie Davis, brother-in-law Larry Davis Sr. and their children. He is preceded in death by his brother Christopher Hawkins and his wonderful grandmother, Clara Griffin Sims, grandfather James Sims, and father-in-law Ernest M. Clinkscales.
The family plans to hold a celebration of life in Greg’s honor in the spring in Alabama. In lieu of flowers, please consider ordering a copy of Greg’s Christmas album, which he released in November 2021, Emmanuel (https://greghawkins.hearnow.com/). Grab a cup of coffee and enjoy listening to it, as he said it was his life’s best work. Have a big slurp of coffee during the last song, “Go Shout It from the Mountain,” which Greg himself described as his “Elvis has left the building ending.”
Heaven just earned itself one heck of a saxophone player. They’re having a large time.
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