James Barrett Hawkins

James Barrett Hawkins, 63, of Gallatin, TN, passed away on Friday, December 6, 2019, following a battle with lymphoma.


A funeral service in celebration of his life and faith will be held on Wednesday, December 11, 2019, at noon at the Gallatin First United Methodist Church, with Rev. James Johnson officiating. Visitation with the Hawkins family will be held on Tuesday, December 10, 2019, from 4 p.m. until 8 p.m. at the Family Heritage Funeral Home at 100 Albert Gallatin Ave. Another short visitation will precede the Wednesday service in Ramsey Hall of the church, from 11 a.m. until noon. 


Jim Hawkins was born on August 20, 1956 in Atlanta, GA. He was preceded in death by his parents, James Wendell Hawkins and Betty Frost Langston Hawkins. 


He is survived by his wife of 32 years, Betsy Rogers Hawkins; his children: Rachel of Watertown, MA, Jimmy of White House, TN, and Caryn of Memphis, TN; his brothers and their spouses: Bob and Cheryl Hawkins of Madison, AL, Chuck Hawkins of Queens, NY, and Drs. Andy and Diane Hawkins of Abingdon, VA; his all-but-adopted brother, Raj Sivananthan of Phoenix, AZ; six nephews; eight nieces; his uncle, Dr. James W. Langston and his wife Elizabeth of Eugene, OR; his aunt, Ann Langston of Larkspur, CA; and many longtime friends.


Jim grew up in Gallatin and graduated from Gallatin High School in 1974. He studied government and became certified as a high school teacher at Centre College in Danville, KY, graduating in 1978. He obtained his master's degree in educational policy studies at Peabody College of Vanderbilt University in the following year, then earned his law degree from Duke University in 1982. He clerked with the Chief Justice of the Tennessee Supreme Court before practicing law with Harsh, Kelly & Smith in Gallatin. In 1986, he shifted direction to work with BellSouth Corporation as a general attorney and manager. Jim and Betsy were married on February 28, 1987 at the Gallatin First United Methodist Church. Over the next 14 years, Jim and his family moved around the country with BellSouth, living in Trussville, AL; Minneapolis, MN; Atlanta, GA; and Birmingham, AL. In 2002, Jim returned to his hometown, becoming managing attorney at the Gallatin office of the Legal Aid Society of Middle Tennessee and the Cumberlands. In 2009, he opened his general practice and public interest law office on the Gallatin downtown square. He was elected to the Sumner County school board in 2016.


Jim was deeply involved in the community. He was a member of Gallatin First United Methodist Church, where he taught Sunday School and sang in the choir. He was actively involved with the Gallatin Noon Rotary Club; Habitat for Humanity; Boy Scout Troop 407; Children are People, Inc.; and the Sumner County Adult Education Advisory Council. He wrote over 400 articles for his "Tennessee Legal" column, which ran in regional papers. He enjoyed running and participating in local 5K races. Jim found energy and joy in connecting and talking with people, and he enjoyed capturing the photographic spirit of civic events. He had a way of making people feel special, cultivating friendships, and sharing the good in life. He loved spending time with his family; celebrating Sumner County and Tennessee history; the music of Bruce Springsteen; vintage quilts; homemade banana pudding and Purity boiled custard; Duke basketball; and hiking Mount LeConte in the Smokies. Jim said that he was called "to show God's love for us through our love for others," and he encouraged others to find the good and to show kindness to one another.


In lieu of flowers, memorial gifts may be made to Gallatin First United Methodist Church, 149 West Main Street, Gallatin, TN, 37066; or to a non-profit charitable organization of your choice. Online condolences may be submitted at familyheritagefh.com.  Family Heritage Funeral Home has been honored to assist the family with arrangements.

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