Hawke, Rev. Richard E.


The Rev. Richard E. “Dick” Hawke, 84, a long-time Western Pennsylvania pastor, mission advocate and former Pittsburgh District Superintendent, died suddenly at home in Chapel Hill, NC, on Saturday, June 25, 2016.

He is survived by his wife, Marybelle; daughter, Cynthia Joy Hawke Renn and her husband, Bill; and grandchildren, Evan and Lydia. He was preceded in death by his daughter Jennifer Hawke-Petit and granddaughters Hayley and Michaela Petit, all of Cheshire, Connecticut.

Rev. Hawke was born in Grove City, PA on Nov. 29, 1931, one of five children of Virginia Pearson Hawke and William Earle Hawke. His father died when he was nine years old. To support the family, his mother took on many odd jobs, cleaning and serving in hotels and restaurants.

Following graduation from high school, he enlisted in the US Marine Corps, where he served as a Chaplain's assistant. He was honorably discharged in 1952 and returned to Grove City College, where he was football captain for three years.  While a college student, he served as a student minister at Grace Methodist Church and Epworth Church.

Richard married Marybelle Buchanan, a registered nurse at Grove City Hospital, in June of 1953. In 1956, he was licensed to preach and admitted on trial to the Erie Methodist Conference and 
began studying at Drew Theological Seminary. He earned an M.Div. and was ordained an elder in 1959.

Rev. Hawke served as a pastor at Kings Chapel and Pulaski in the New Castle area, Slippery Rock, Dormont and Greenville First UMCs before being named Pittsburgh District Superintendent in 1978. In 1984, he moved to Stone UMC in Meadville, where he served until retirement at age 63 in 1994.

After retirement, the Hawkes moved to Venice, Florida, but spent summers in the Slippery Rock area, attending Slippery Rock UMC. In 2014, they moved to Chapel Hill, where their daughter and family live.

During their ministry, the Hawkes were active in mission, traveling to, among other places, Alaska and Liberia. He served as Conference GBGM Mission Secretary  

“I was the first male dean of the School of Mission and both Marybelle and I have been teachers at the school and served on the board for a number of years,” Hawke said in 2007 when announcing establishment of the Hawke-Petit Endowment Fund in the Conference to receive donations in memory of tdaughter Jennifer Hawke Petit, her daughters, who died in July of that year in a home invasion. “Other than the local church, the School of Mission had more influence on our ministry than anything else.”
The Hawke-Petit Endowment Fund was set up to provide:

  • Scholarships for children and youth to attend the Cooperative School of Christian Mission (now Mission u), as well as support for the school’s programs and leadership;
  • Scholarships for youth to participate in Volunteers in Mission work /travel experiences
  • Camping scholarships for children and youth at Western PA Conference Camps

The endowment’s purposes reflect the ministry of the Hawke family and the commitment of the three women to children and youth.

A memorial service for Rev. Hawke was held June 28 at University United Methodist Church in Chapel Hill.