Move-in day this semester was, as always, a flurry of activity. Friends greeted friends, people unpacked their clothes and settled back into their dorm rooms, and students braved the line in the bookstore to pick up textbooks.
But amid the usual excitement, Mount students received some sad news that gave many a pause. Fred Hawk, resident of Taneytown and beloved Patriot staff member, passed away over break, on the day after Christmas.
It seemed fitting that Fred worked the dessert stand, for he is universally remembered as a sweet man. Co-workers described Fred as easygoing and soft-spoken and will miss his gentle presence and sense of humor. For students, he was a grandfather figure of sorts. He was always ready with a smile and, for his regulars, a bag of cookies (and sometimes with an extra snuck in). His cheerful attitude and friendly, genuine interest in the students’ lives brightened many otherwise stressful, tiring days.
A veteran of the U.S. Air Force, Fred worked at Random House for several decades. Working at the bakery in the Mount St. Mary’s dining hall was his retirement job. His kindness and willingness to lend a hand made him a valued employee both at Random House and at Mount St. Mary’s. And he truly enjoyed working at the bakery in Patriot. Co-workers noted his love for the students he served. Fred was never bored or bad-tempered at work because, for him, work was a day spent interacting with the kids at the Mount.
His enthusiasm extended beyond his work, as well. Fred was father to four daughters, grandfather to thirteen children, and great-grandfather to three boys. A devoted family man, Fred often talked of his love for his family, and eagerly anticipated breaks in the school year for the chance they provided to visit with his many relatives. He would speak of the children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren that were so important to him with anyone who cared to listen. Several students even personally knew one of Fred’s beloved great-grandsons, who took swim lessons at the ARCC from the Mount swim team.
It can be easy to get swept up in the many little stresses and cares of daily life, to forget to smile at those around us, take time to count our blessings or look at the bright side of things. We might not appreciate the sweet, sunshiny presence of a co-worker, or realize how much someone like Fred meant to the Mount Community, until it is beyond our ability to tell them so in person. Fred’s passing is both a cause for sadness and a time to slow down for a minute and reflect on his legacy. Fred’s memory can remind us to find joy in the people around us, just as he did.