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Brother Ricky Hawkins and his wife Deborah:
I met Deborah Hobbs about 1977 or 1978. Her uncle Morris Hobbs was the Pastor of Antioch Baptist Church. Deborah was Carl Hobbs’ daughter and lived just across the county line in Warren County at Wanamakers Branch. The entire Hobbs family from down there came and attended Antioch Church. There was Jay and Lassie, the parents of Carl and Morris. Morris lived in Spencer, Tennessee. They would all come in my store in Beersheba about 1:00 p.m. on Sunday after church.
Carl and Catheryn had two girls, Deborah and Shelia, who were beautiful young teenagers. Morris and his wife had two beautiful teenage daughters also, so the entire family would come in and visit. They would buy treats and oh how we enjoyed them.
I had a helper in the store named Ricky Killian about fourteen. He could hardly wait until the Hobbs family arrived. Four pretty girls, jolly, happy, and friendly. I don’t remember which one Ricky liked the best; I think he liked all four of them.
By and by Deborah married a young man named Ricky Hawkins. He would go to church at Antioch and sit with Deborah under the watchful eye of Carl and Catheryn. Ricky Hawkins was from Dekalb County. He was a very good boy, a Christian and later became a preacher and the Pastor of Antioch where he served over sixteen years.
During this time he and Deborah raised two children, Ethan and Jessica. They were a popular family. They were in fellowship with all the preachers and pastors in the area. Rick is a guitar player. He and his sister and daughter Jessica along with Latease King would go places, sing and praise the Lord before Rick preached.
Deborah worked as bookkeeper for William Wanamaker. I don’t know how, but she kept books handled the payroll, and the checking accounts for about seven or eight of William’s enterprises. Deborah worked there and Rick was a mechanic for a company in McMinnville.
Deborah developed diabetes. It progressed rapidly so in her 40’s, she had to quit work and had to have surgery on one foot and she lost weight and became very sick.
In 2012 Brother Rick felt the call to another church and he left Antioch. Soon he was pastor of a church over near Short Mountain near the Warren and Dekalb county line.
By now Deborah’s blindness kept her from driving but it didn’t keep her from attending church and worshiping the Lord.
On Thursday, June 6, 2013, at age 51, the Lord called Deborah home. Her sickness, her handicaps, her problems on this earth ended. She and Rick were at home in Tarlton. Rick went outside for something and when he came back in, she was dead. High Funeral Home in McMinnville came for her.
A man from High’s, after finding out Rick did not have insurance showed him how to make choices arranging her funeral and a $10,000 funeral was held for just under $7,000. God was at work for this Minister of the Gospel.
At the first session of visitation, people would come to Rick, shake hands, and express their concern. Then he would feel something in his hand and when the person turned loose, Rick found either some cash or a check. These checks from individuals and from churches he would put in his pocket, shake hands with the next person and when he went home he had over $3600 in his pockets.
At the next visitation, the same thing happened and the gifts went over the top with even enough for a stone and some extra.
I’m reminded of Matthew 6:8 where the scripture says, “He knoweth our needs before we ask Him.”
I am the Grundy County Sheriff’s Department escort and I escorted the procession from the county line to the King Cemetery near Deborah’s home. My plans were to go over to the grave for the service after the last car turned in. Well, the cars started turning in going behind the hearse and parking on the hillside and on the side of the winding road. Soon the cars were bumper to bumper from the highway all the way to the cemetery and cars still on the highway waiting to turn in. I wish I had counted them. My plans went amiss because I didn’t feel I was able to walk all the way from the highway to the grave.
On Wednesday, the 12th, I drove over to the cemetery. I shared this story with my wife about the many cars. We came back to the highway and noticed Rick on his back porch, so we turned in and visited him.
What a testimony he gave us. I told Rick I waited at the county line from 3:25 until 5:00 before the funeral procession came along. I thought the speakers William Wanamaker and Mike Rigsby must have spoken a long time. Rick said, “No, Don, it was the large number of people passing by for the final viewing. Mike’s sermon was, “The Pastors Wife.” Bro. Wanamaker and Bro. Rigsby and I all said a few words but it was the number of mourners that took time.”
What a blessing. Bro. Rick said there was a service that was scheduled on Monday at the Pearls of Christ Church; a fellowship of churches that Bro. Rick and Deborah are a part of. They asked Bro. Rick should they cancel it or continue. He said, “I believe Deborah would have desired it be held.”
Well, four people got saved including Deborah’s son, her nephew and niece and her niece’s fiancé.
The Riedels is a popular group of gospel singers from Anderson, Indiana. Bro. Rick called them and told them about Deborah’s passing and how she would have loved to have them to sing at her service but he said, “I can’t pay you for the trip.” They simply said, “We’ll be there.”
They were and I believe he said the Pearls of Christ Church gave them a paying job while they were here at that fellowship meeting.
Friends, this is how it works. This is spirituality. There is lots of it in Grundy County where Deborah lived and lots of it in all our neighboring counties like I’ve described here in Warren County.
God Rest Her Soul Till We Meet Again. Amen
Note: This is a story that will be printed in a forthcoming book titled, “Spirituality in Grundy County” with a tentative release date of July 2017 by Don Hill.