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Friday, August 25, 2023
9:00 - 10:00am (Eastern time)
Friday, August 25, 2023
10:00 - 11:00am (Eastern time)
Friday, August 25, 2023
11:00am - 12:00pm (Eastern time)
Ralph Hawes was the first born of Raleigh and Lester (Hamby) Hawes in Belmont, North Carolina on February 5, 1928. Two brothers and a sister would follow. His mother died shortly after the birth of his sister in 1938.
His parents worked at the local textile mills, as would Ralph. The family was poor. To the dismay of his siblings, Ralph specialized in eating first and fastest at the dinner table.
In 1947, a friend asked him to go with him to the Army Air Forces recruiter in Gastonia to take an enlistment test. His friend failed, but Ralph passed. On September 7, 1947, he began his military service. He went to basic training at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas. In 1948 he deployed to Erding Air Base, near Munich, West Germany for the Berlin Air Lift. While he was there his father died. Ralph was twenty.
After Germany, he was assigned to Turner Air Force Base in Albany, Georgia. While there, he met and married Geneva Vance on February 28. 1953. Their first child, Ralph Junior, was born there. He went with his unit on the first mass deployment of jet fighters across the Pacific, travelling from Albany to Misawa Air Base in Japan.
In 1955, he was assigned to Ramey Air Force base in Puerto Rico but posted to a depot at Kelly Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas to manage the gathering and sending of aircraft parts to his unit at Ramey. Sons Raleigh and Tom were born at nearby Lackland Air Force Base.
In 1959, he was assigned to isolated duty at Sondrestrom Air Base in Greenland. Geneva and sons lived with her parents on their Sycamore farm while he was gone. Upon his return he was again assigned to Turner Air Force Base. Son James was born on the base. Ralph and Geneva gave up on trying again for a girl.
In 1964 the Air Force assigned him detached duties for a year with a CIA operation at Takhli Royal Thai Air Force Base in Thailand. Upon his return to Turner in 1965, he was chosen to be his squadron’s First Sergeant which would become his primary duty for the rest of his career.
In 1967, he was assigned to Little Rock Air Force Base in Jacksonville, Arkansas where the family spent four years. He traveled all over Europe during this assignment.
In 1971, he and his family were transferred to Karamursel Common Defense Installation in Turkey. While there he took the family to explore Istanbul and the ruins of Biblical Ephesus. In 1973, they were transferred to Ramstein Air Base, West Germany.
In 1975, his final Air Force assignment was to F.E. Warren Air Force Base in Wyoming as the Senior Enlisted Advisor for a missile wing that spanned several Air Force bases. He retired as a Chief Master Sergeant to Sycamore after 30-years’ service in May 1977.
He and Geneva built a house on a corner of her family’s farm where they would live for 46 years. He developed a love of fruit and vegetable gardening. He planted orange, pear, lemon, and persimmons trees. He grew a hickory tree from the nuts of a tree he would snack on walking to and from school in Belmont. He loved to keep busy outside maintaining his yard and using his chainsaw to clear fallen trees for his neighbors and friends until well into his 90s.
After teaching one year of ROTC at Warner Robins Northside High School, he worked 10 years as a Fire Safety Compliance Officer for the Georgia State Fire Marshall’s Office.
On February 28, 2023, Ralph and Geneva celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary. He adored Geneva and loved and supported his family until he passed at Tift Regional Medical Center on August 20, 2023, at 95 years of age.
He was a Master of the 32nd Degree of the Ancient and Accepted Scottish Rite since 1962.
He was also a longtime member of Bethel Baptist Church where he served as an usher and on the Funeral and Hospitality committee.
His is survived by the love of his life Geneva, sons Ralph of Sycamore, Raleigh (Kay) of Acworth, Georgia, Tom (Gerri) of Allen, Texas, James (Filiz) of Westminster, Maryland and grandchildren Ashton of Salt Lake City, Utah, Catherine (Ben) of Plano, Texas, Samuel (Natalie) of Dallas, Texas, and Harlin (Skye) of Honolulu, Hawaii. He valued his long friendships with Allen McCard of Sycamore and Robert A. Lee of Cheyenne, Wyoming as well as those friendships of many others who have passed.
Funeral services will be held at 10:00 AM Friday, August 25, 2023 at Bethel Baptist Church. Interment with military honors will follow in the church cemetery. The family will greet friends beginning at 9:00 AM until 10:00 AM Friday at the church.
His family would like to especially mention his affection and appreciation for the staff at Maple Court Senior Care in Tifton as well thanking the doctors, nurses, and staff at Tift Regional Medical Center who tirelessly attended him in his last days.
His helpful nature, friendly smile, and sense of humor endeared him to everyone who had the fortune to meet him. He will be missed.