Roland K. Hawkes

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  • "Yo, bro. Sistah here. Thanks for ice circle in the river...."
    - Carolyn
  • "Many condolences to the family and friends of Roland. May..."
    - L S
  • "See you under the compass rose at the top of the tower,..."
    - Steve Sesto
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WESTBROOK - Roland K. Hawkes, Ph.D., of Prides Corner, Westbrook, Maine, died Dec. 20, 2018. Roland had a zest for life, and loved sharing stories of his lived experiences in southern Maine, Massachusetts, Maryland, Iowa, Illinois, and southern Africa.

As a sociologist devoted to inclusive societies, Roland was a keen social justice activist. Like his father, Kenneth, Roland was an active advocate for racial and gender equity. He worked with black communities in Baltimore, and participated in sit-in demonstrations, marched on Washington, D.C., amongst Martin Luther King Jr. and other prominent racial justice activists of that time. Even while facing arrests and public threats he stood by his principles. He continued to stand for the justice of "marginalized" voices throughout his long life. His areas of concern and interest took him to issues of land use and natural resources management in Southern Africa.

Roland graduated from Tufts University with a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology, Boston University with an Master of Arts in Sociology and Anthropology, and a doctoral degree in sociology from Johns Hopkins University. In his early academic years, he served at the University of Iowa and then later as a visiting professor at the University of Minnesota. He taught for 16 years at Southern Illinois University in Carbondale, where he was professor emeritus. In 1987, he received a Fulbright lecturer position at the University of Zimbabwe, and later, in 2000 received another Fulbright Lecturer and Senior Research Fellow position at the University of Fort Hare, Alice, South Africa.

He retired and returned to Gorham in 2001. Over the years, he thrived on researching history, past and contemporary. He was particularly fond of the history of Portland and Westbrook, Maine. In his most recent years, he served as a docent with the Greater Portland Landmarks, providing guided tours of the Portland Observatory. On a good day he would climb the 104 steps of the tower with ease. The Portland Observatory was a special place for him, particularly sharing the history of Portland with young people. As he once shared, "I often remark that getting to the top of the Observatory is always a new experience. It always left me anticipating the next season!" On any given day, he could be found investigating the canal routes and calculating the original granite rubble that still remains, serving as ballast of the Observatory tower. In his reflective solitude, Roland challenged himself by programming his own puzzles, refurbishing electronics, and he enjoyed tinkering with new projects around the house. As a longtime amateur radio technician, he had a deep-rooted passion for people and technologies.

Above all, he had a profound love, admiration, and dedication for his wide-spread family. He was one of the three children of the late Rev. Kenneth C. Hawkes and June W. Hawkes. He is survived by Janet Hawkes, his stepmother; his partner, Otrude Moyo; his sisters, Carolyn Gaines (Charles Gaines) of Tucson, Arizona and Margaret St. Pierre (Phil Gagnon) of Falmouth, Maine; his two sons, Kenneth and Christopher Hawkes; his daughter, Lulama O. Moyo Hawkes; and many nieces, nephews, grandchildren, grandnieces and nephews, and great-grandnieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his ex-wife, Rosemary Hawkes; and his niece, Patricia St. Pierre.

The family wishes to thank neighbors, health and human service providers for coordinating his care prior to his passing.

Family and friends are invited to attend a memorial service on Saturday, Jan. 5, 2019, at 10 a.m., at the Westbrook Chapel of Dolby Blais & Segee, 35 Church St. Please visit to view Roland's tribute page and to sign his online guestbook.

Memorial donations in his name can be made to:

Portland Observatory

c/o Greater Portland Landmarks

93 High Street

Portland, ME 04101

Published in Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram on Jan. 3, 2019
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