ALFRED-Anthony John Hawkins, 86, known to everyone as Tony, passed away peacefully at Elderwood Nursing Facility in Hornell (April 30, 2018), following a two-month illness.
Tony was born to Walter and Mary (Scoon) Hawkins on July 7, 1931 in Bristol, England, where he grew up an only child. Little is known about his early life. From sixteen to nineteen he took evening classes in math, physics and chemistry at a local technical college. David Rossington of Alfred met Tony in the early 1950’s at Bristol University where David was a student and Tony was an apprentice glass blower, learning the techniques of the trade that would support him the rest of his life. (See the picture above showing Tony at work at the College of Ceramics in Alfred at age 37.)
Tony served in the English Army from 1952 – 1954, followed by years as a glassblower at the University of Nottingham, University of British Columbia (Vancouver) and finally at Alfred University where Tony was the laboratory glass blower at the College of Ceramics from 1960 to 1983, when he retired. Tony had a rare ability to fashion molten glass, whether it became a piece of laboratory apparatus or an intricate animal given to a child or sold at Mary Lou Cartledge’s gift shop in Alfred.
In his youth at Vancouver and Alfred, Tony was an enthusiastic skier, a pursuit that unfortunately ended when an auto accident damaged his left knee in 1968.
A lifelong bachelor, Tony lived alone at 4960 East Valley Road, halfway between Alfred Station and Andover, for most of his fifty-eight years in the Alfred area. Tony loved movies and classical music, having an encyclopedic knowledge of both. In the years when Juilliard came to Alfred for summer concerts, Tony rarely missed one. When computers became popular, Tony quickly became adept, programming a Wine Grape Glossary still in use on the internet and establishing himself as a wine expert. He loved food, having a passion for cookbooks and recipes. For years he belonged to a group of gourmets who met once a month at a top notch restaurant for a meal. In later years he was an enthusiastic member of a bridge club in Hornell.
My wife and I (David and Aurora Palmer) met Tony around 1990 and were close friends for the rest of his life. I spent many happy hours with Tony “picking apart” current events, wine, movies and the colorful life of Richard Feynman, one of our mutual heroes. Recently Tony and I watched a ten-week series on the life of Einstein at Tony’s home. He will be greatly missed.
At sometime around 2010 Tony befriended Joan Speca, recently widowed and making a difficult adjustment to the loss of her husband. He and Joan became constant companions. He saw her through the difficulties of Alzheimer’s disease, handling her affairs and adopting her dog Sasha until Joan’s and Sasha’s death.
Since Tony’s passion for food did not include a strong desire to cook, he ate most meals at the Collegiate Restaurant (fondly nicknamed the Jet) after coming to Alfred in 1960. There he was on the first stool at the near end of the counter—three times a day in the early years, twice a day later on. At some point Tony’s name was placed on the stool top, where it still stands. Tony made friends at the Jet—two generations of owners (John Senior and Angie Ninos, then John-John and Chelly Ninos), Bob Heineman and many others. For several months before Tony’s death my wife Aurora and I took him weekly to the Duke House (patterned after an English Tea House) in Wellsville for Sunday brunch. Tony greatly appreciated its atmosphere, its tea and the hospitality of Nancy, Ruben and John.
At Tony’s request, there will be no calling hours or formal services. Friends are invited to attend a “scattering of ashes” on Saturday, May 19 at 2:00 PM at Tony’s home at 4960 East Valley Road, Alfred Station. Please come prepared to share stories and memories.
Funeral arrangements are in care of the Dagon Funeral Home, 38 Church Street, Hornell, NY.
In lieu of flowers, friends are asked to consider making a donation in Tony’s memory to any worthwhile charity.
To leave an online condolence or share a memory, visit www.dagonfuneralhome.com.