Ernest Middleton (Brody) Hawkins and Mary Verenice Cooper
Ernest Middleton (Brody) Hawkins was born May 13, 1927, in the Cloverdale community of Rising Fawn, GA. His parents were Grady Hawkins and Velma Riddle. His middle name came from Dr. D.S. Middleton who delivered him. He grew up on the Hawkins family farm in Cloverdale. Brody attended Rising Fawn School and Dade County High School. He served in the U.S. Army right after the end of WWII. He was a military policeman while stationed in Europe and much of his time was spent guarding trains returning displaced persons to their homes and providing food and supplies for those who needed it. He was assigned guard duty at the Nuremburg Trials and guarded two of the Nazi war criminals on trial there. When he came home from the service, he remembered seeing electric lights in his home for the first time. He farmed for a while and then worked in Chattanooga. He had two brothers and two sisters, H.G., Mary, Catherine, and Raleigh. In September of 1953 he married Mary Verenice Cooper of Valley Head, AL.
Mary Verenice Cooper was born July 8, 1932 near Valley Head, AL. She was the daughter of Horace Cooper and Nancy Gifford. The Coopers lived on a farm a few miles down the road from the Hawkinses. Verenice attended Valley Head School for grades 1-12. She graduated in 1950 and then entered the Baroness Erlanger School of Nursing in Chattanooga, TN. She completed her R.N. training there in 1953. Verenice had two brothers, one sister, and one half-sister. They were Foyl, Ray, and Willene Cooper and Eloise Barnes. After completing her training as a nurse, she married Brody Hawkins and went to work at Children’s Hospital in Chattanooga, TN.
Brody and Verenice had two children: Linda Elaine, born January 29, 1955, and Ronald Edward, b. June 14, 1956. Both Linda and Ronnie attended Rising Fawn Elementary School and graduated from Dade County High School. Linda received a B.A. degree in English and a Master’s degree in English Education from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. She is currently head of the English Department at Dade County High School. Ronnie received a B.S. degree in civil engineering from Georgia Tech and is employed by TVA in Chattanooga. Linda married Lane Wilson in 1983 and they have one son Samuel Lane, born May 12, 1990. The Wilsons live on Hawkins Lane in Cloverdale. Ronnie Hawkins married Melody Morgan in 1981. They have three children: Benjamin Morgan Hawkins, b. January 25, 1983; Jenny Lynn Hawkins, b. September 7, 1984; Rachel Lea Hawkins, b. June 13, 1987. Ben Hawkins married Belinda Larsen and they have one daughter Madison Laurel Hawkins, b. Oct. 13, 2002. The Hawkins families also live on Hawkins Lane in Rising Fawn.
Brody and Verenice built a house on the Hawkins family farm in Cloverdale. Brody worked for Combustion Engineering for a short time before going into construction work. He was a carpenter and a member of Carpenter’s Local 74 in Chattanooga, TN. He worked on houses, bridge construction and finally commercial construction. He was employed for most of his career by two companies: H.E. Collins and Mabry and Parker Construction in Chattanooga. He worked as a foreman and then as a project superintendent. He supervised remodeling work at Erlanger Hospital, built warehouses, housing projects and other commercial buildings. Most of his work was in and around Chattanooga, but he also worked on projects in Waynesboro, VA, Wilmington, NC, and Anderson, SC.
Verenice Hawkins worked at Children’s Hospital until the birth of her first child. She stayed home and worked most of the time while her children were young. She did work part-time and for short periods of time on and off at Children’s Hospital. She worked for several years as a substitute teacher in the Dade County School System. She went back to work part-time in the 1970’s and then full time at the Dade County Health Department. She was the public health nurse in Dade County until her retirement in 1996. She still serves on the Dade County Board of Health and several other committees in the community. She is a member of Cloverdale Baptist Church.
Brody Hawkins died November 17, 1998 at Memorial Hospital in Chattanooga, TN after a brief illness. He is buried in the Beene Cemetery near Valley Head, AL. Verenice Hawkins is a member of the AARP, the Dade County Historical Society and the Dade County Friends of the Library. She also finds time to do volunteer work at Dade Elementary School and to make a garden. She is still very active as a mother, grandmother and great-grandmother.
Written by Linda Hawkins Wilson