Born May 10, 1931, Keith is survived by his wife of almost 32 years, Cheryl O’Connor Hawkins; his son, Gary (Heather) Hawkins of Los Angeles, CA; his daughter Cynthia (Ronald) Turner of DeWitt, NY; his daughter Paula (Daniel Lawton) Hawkins of Falls Church, VA; his grandchildren Sterling Hawkins, Berkeley Hawkins, Schuyler Hawkins, Haviland Hawkins, Allison Turner, Elliot Turner, Seamus Lawton, and Cordelia Lawton; and two great-grandchildren. He was predeceased by his first wife, Mary Katherine Johnson Hawkins; his brother, Eugene Hawkins; and his parents, Gladys Leevis Hawkins and Clifford Daniel Hawkins.
Owner and President of Green Hills Farms supermarket, Keith was proud of his roots on a family farm in South Onondaga, and often talked about getting his start selling eggs and Christmas trees. He transformed the vegetable stand started by his grandmother and moved by his father in 1934 to its Route 11 location into a flourishing, community-based grocery store. Over the course of his career, he would eventually own over nineteen businesses, including supermarkets, a wholesale grocery business, and a motel and other real estate in Florida. He also served on the board of directors of several area banks and businesses.
Keith was valedictorian of his 1948 graduating class at Onondaga Central School and received the school’s Wall of Distinction honor in 2012. Keith graduated magna cum laude from Syracuse University in 1952 with the top marketing student award. He remained dedicated to education throughout his life, serving as member and then president of the board of trustees of Manlius Pebble Hill School during a critical period in the 1970’s.
Keith was a member of the Skaneateles Country Club. Books and music were always an important part of his life. He loved to travel, and visited over twenty countries. But his heart was happiest at home by the waterway in Lauderdale-By-The-Sea, FL, or lakeside in Skaneateles. Being near or on the water was a source of great joy for him. The large “Hello There” sign Keith had permanently posted on his lawn in Skaneateles reflected his warm, outgoing, and generous nature. His kindness and optimism — and that infectious laugh! — will be missed by all who knew and loved him.
There will be a private family service at the Robert D. Gray Funeral Home in Skaneateles. Friends and family are invited to a celebration of Keith’s life on Sunday, June 9, 2019, at 11:00 a.m. at Skaneateles Country Club, West Lake Road, Skaneateles.
In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to Crouse Hospital Foundation and SAVES.
To send condolences, visit robertdgrayfuneralhome.com.