Frances Jean Hawkins, 94, of Sparta, Illinois, died peacefully at 8:39 a.m. on Thursday, Nov. 4, 2021 in Sparta.
Frannie was an active citizen of Sparta for more than 70 years and was known for her spunky can-do attitude, resilience, and big charitable heart.
Frannie was born on Dec. 12, 1926 in the home of her parents, Edward P. and Martha "Katie" (Plumlee) Stanhouse, in Du Quoin, Illinois. She was the seventh of 10 children.
During the war years she worked in nursing at Park Lane Hospital in St. Louis and she loved to share the memories of her time during those years. On Aug. 31, 1945, she married Milton Charles "Pudge" Hawkins in Tamaroa, Illinois. Pudge and Frannie relocated to Sparta and lived there their remaining lives. He preceded her in death on April 12, 2009 after 64 years of marriage.
Frannie was extremely active in her community, living life fully while also overcoming many challenges. In her young married life she was a leader in Scouts with her children, taught Sunday school classes and served with the PTA as her children progressed through the Sparta schools. Frannie worked hard for the less fortunate and was instrumental in urging local leaders to establish public housing in Sparta. She was a longtime member of the Randolph County Historical Society and was a first-time participant at the annual Fort de Chartres Rendezvous.
She and two other women from the Historical Society met with the Illinois governor to execute the purchase of the Pierre Menard Home as a state historic property. She was also a member of Delta Theta Tau Sorority, serving as president during the publishing of the well-known and infamous "green cookbook."
While in her 50s, Frannie returned to school, graduating with a degree in Social Welfare at the age of 57 from SIU-Carbondale, after which she became the director of the Perry County Job Training Partnership Act program until her retirement at the age of 67.
In her 60s she overcame non-Hodgkins Lymphoma, beating the odds to survive another 35 years.
Frannie was well loved by many relatives and friends and an adopted mom to many. She was well known for her cooking and decorating skills, especially making pies. She enjoyed golfing, fishing, hosting parties and socializing with those she loved. Frances was the matriarch of her family and will be dearly missed.
Survivors include her one son, Charles Scott (Holly) Hawkins of Sparta; two daughters, Cindy Hawkins of Dallas, Texas and Christy Gentry of Sparta; daughter-in-law, Wanda Hawkins of Chester, Illinois; a sister-in-law, Opal Stanhouse of Du Quoin; eight grandchildren, Jeffery Hawkins, Chuck Hawkins, Evan Hawkins, Sara Ball, Travis Edwards, Clinton Hawkins, Collin Hawkins and Jeremiah Gentry; two great-grandchildren; a host of nieces and nephews; and longtime close friends, Jack and Kay Bivens.
She was preceded in death by her parents; her husband; two sons, Roger and Gregory Hawkins; six sisters, Lorraine Sisney, Gertrude Braml, Bobbie Engert, Lettie Gregory, Ruth Degler and Cecil Szczeblewski; and two brothers, William and Edward Stanhouse.
Funeral services will be held at 11 a.m. on Tuesday, Nov. 9 at the First United Methodist Church in Sparta, with Pastor Randy McGeehon officiating. Interment will be in the Caledonia Cemetery in Sparta.
Visitation will be held at the First United Methodist Church in Sparta from 9 to 11 a.m. on Tuesday, prior to the service. COVID-19 mandates will be adhered to.
Memorial donations may be made to First United Methodist Church of Sparta or the Randolph County Historical Society.
Pyatt Funeral Home in Pinckneyville, Illinois, has been entrusted with arrangements. For more information or to sign an online guest register visit www.pyattfuneralhome.com.