William Thornton Hawkins, 93, died on Saturday, December 24, 2022, after living bravely with Parkinson’s disease. A celebration of Thornton’s life for family and friends will be held at 2:00 PM on Tuesday, January 3, 2023, in the Norma Pulliam Chapel at Givens Estates in Asheville, NC. The family will greet friends informally in the chapel after the service. The family requests that those attending the service wear masks.
Thornton was born December 6, 1929 and was a son of the late Taylor and Bessie Hawkins of Canton, NC. Growing up with a sister and two brothers, Thornton graduated from Canton High School as a member of its first class to attend 12 years of public school. He began his college studies at Pfeiffer Junior College in Misenheimer, NC, and received his bachelor’s degree from Guilford College in Greensboro, NC, in 1951. Thornton felt called to the ministry and earned a Master of Divinity degree at Duke Divinity School in Durham, NC, in 1954. He was an ordained elder in the Western North Carolina Conference of the United Methodist Church and retired after 43 years of service.
While at Pfeiffer, Thornton met his beloved wife, Evelyn Grace Diggs. He never tired of telling the story of how he was "smitten" by Evelyn, and they married on September 2, 1951. After his graduation from Duke, Thornton and Evelyn began their ministry in the WNC Conference and served churches in Polkville, Candler, Guilford College, Reidsville, Murphy, Canton, Charlotte, Midway, Salisbury, and Hayesville.
After retiring to Haywood County, NC, Thornton continued to serve others, joining building team missions to Bosnia, Mexico, Costa Rica, and Unalaska, AK. He also volunteered with Haywood Habitat for Humanity and served on its board of directors. Thornton became a hospital chaplain, first at Haywood Regional Medical Center in Clyde, NC, and then volunteering at Mission Hospital in Asheville, NC.
Thornton was preceded in death by his wife Evelyn and his granddaughter Lauren Patrice Sigmon. He is survived by two daughters and sons-in-law: Patrice Hawkins Sigmon and Allen Sigmon; and Catherine Hawkins Hoffman and Roger Hoffman; by his brother and sister-in-law, Darrell and Sara Hawkins; and by many nieces and nephews.
Thornton’s family is grateful for the love and care of the staffs at Givens Estates, Mountain Home Care, and Four Seasons Hospice, whom he considered part of his family.
In lieu of flowers, please consider celebrating Thornton’s life with a donation to one of the following charities.
The sea turtle internship fund established in memory of his granddaughter Lauren. Checks may be written payable to: KBSTRRC Intern Scholarship Fund. Mail to: Karen Beasley Sea Turtle Rescue and Rehabilitation Center; PO Box 2095, 302 Tortuga Lane; Surf City, NC 28445; Attention: Terry Meyer
Haywood Habitat for Humanity; PO Box 283; Waynesville, NC 28786
The care of Thornton has been entrusted to Wells Funeral Home of Waynesville.