Obituary: Dorothy Leslie Murray Hawkins

Dorothy Leslie Murray Hawkins died March 20 at the age of 85.

Ms. Hawkins was born September 18, 1935. Pre-war Balboa Island and wartime Long Beach shaped her earliest years. She lost her father when she was only 13. The girl who emerged from those experiences had friends she would keep forever, and a strong sense of self.

Adventurous and open to new experiences from the start, she adapted when her mother moved the two of them from Southern California to Kansas halfway through high school. She came back to California for college, studying sociology at the University of Redlands, and making more friends who would last a lifetime.

She married and moved to Texas, where her husband was stationed in the U.S. Air Force. The time left a mark on her: the racism she witnessed shaped her perspective on the world and her place in it.

“She was a person who constantly sensed the most vulnerable person in a group and would draw them in, making them feel seen and genuinely valued,” her family shared. “Everyone wanted to confide in Ms. Hawkins. Her family marveled at how passing contacts—a person delivering a package, someone standing ahead of her in a line—would tell her of divorce, death, or illness, and she would console.”

She pursued certification in Lamaze technique, teaching and empowering women and their partners as they prepared for childbirth. She fought for Pomona Valley Hospital Medical Center to admit fathers into labor and delivery rooms. She was a proponent of breastfeeding. For many years she taught childbirth classes in the family living room. For those who were alone, she woke in the middle of the night, or, even more challenging given her biorhythms, first thing in the morning, to accompany them through giving birth.

She and Warren Hawkins married in 1976 on Mt. Baldy and began their life together, managing a merged family with teenagers. They later became worldwide travelers, but returned over and over to Paris and Assisi as favorites. 

The couple pursued their love of travel and learning new things for many years. Mr. Hawkins supported her spiritual development and giving nature, and over the years she became a lay hospital chaplain; served as a lay eucharistic minister for the homebound; was a hospice volunteer providing respite for families in their homes; delivered for Meals on Wheels; and was a driver for people needing rides to cancer treatment, among many other volunteer efforts. 

“She held in her hands the sacredness of life, being present at birth and death and every crucial moment in between,” her family said. 

Her spirituality was fundamental to every aspect of her being. As a longtime, committed member of St. John’s Episcopal Church in La Verne, she served on the vestry and was in leadership positions.

Any account of her life requires a mention of her love of animals. Her daughters brought a constant stream of pets home, and with a few exceptions, she loved each one. She always had at least one dog in her life, tending toward the feisty variety, including her current Westie, Sophie. It was perhaps the intersection of her spirituality and love of animals that led her to become a professed member of the lay Third Order of Franciscans, being a co-convener for many years.

She leaves behind Warren, her husband of 45 years; her three daughters and their spouses, Sarah Calvin and Cynthia Becker, Melissa and Peter Browning, and Elizabeth Calvin and Ingrid Lobet; grandsons Joshua Browning, Noah Browning and Gabriel Lobet; Mr. Hawkins’ sons and their spouses, Tim and Katie Hawkins and Matthew and Sherry Hawkins; grandchildren Lucas Hawkins, Jacob Hawkins, Heidi Lobretto, Matthew Hawkins Jr. and Jeffrey Hawkins; the father of her children, John Calvin; and a young man she considered to be her son, Athain Russell.

A small family service will be held this week, to be followed by a community celebration of life once travel is permitted.

In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation in her name to the West End Shelter for Animals of Ontario at, or St. John’s Episcopal Church of La Verne at


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