James Ray Hawkins

November 21, 2023

James Ray Hawkins, BBA ’58, passed away Nov. 22, 2022. The Baylor Family honors the life of Jim, a Waco philanthropist and committed alumnus.

“Jim Hawkins was a dedicated member of the Baylor community who sought to support the faculty, coaches, students and student-athletes of this university in word and in deed,” said Baylor President Linda A. Livingstone, Ph.D. “We are praying for Jim’s beloved wife, Nell, and their family as they mourn his passing. Jim’s impact in Waco and at Baylor continues, and we give heartfelt thanks for the support, mentorship, encouragement and leadership he provided during his lifetime of service and connection to Baylor University.”

Nell and Jim Hawkins
Nell and Jim Hawkins

Jim was a longtime, faithful supporter of Baylor University along with his wife, Nell. It was common to see them sporting their finest green and gold at Baylor games, or at the Martin Museum of Art, where Nell has served as a longtime supporter through Art Angels. The Hawkinses have also long supported the Louise Herrington School of Nursing through the Going for the Gold Gala, where Jim would provide his characteristic, quiet support as Nell passionately supported Baylor’s future nurses. 

“Jim Hawkins consistently sought out places at Baylor University where he could make a significant impact on Baylor’s students and on the quality of our programs,” said David Rosselli, Baylor’s vice president for advancement. “From basketball to tennis to their own scholarships and the efforts they have put in promoting giving by the Baylor Family, Jim and Nell have left an indelible mark on Baylor. They have made an impact on the lives of generations of students. It’s a wonderful legacy that continues to bless our students and alumni, and as we mourn his passing, we must also celebrate and honor the legacy he leaves behind. We are truly grateful for Jim and Nell and their impact here.”

It was through Baylor Football that Jim became inspired to attend Baylor in the 1950s, declining a football scholarship at the University of Arkansas to instead pay his way at Baylor as a student. He recalled many years later that the energy and passion with which students supported their Baylor team at a Baylor vs. Arkansas football game that inspired him to take the harder path, working part-time to pay his way through Baylor. The Hawkinses have supported the generations of Baylor Bears who came after Jim, honoring his connections to the University through philanthropy by establishing scholarships.

With Nell, a Baylor Alumna-By-Choice, Jim volunteered of his time as a member of the Baylor Foundation and Hankamer School of Business Boards of Advisors. He and Nell also gave generously to the University, through their scholarships and, famously, to celebrate the 2005 National Championship victory by Baylor Women’s Basketball, a lead gift for the basketball practice facility at the Ferrell Center.

The Hawkinses also provided the lead gift for the Jim and Nell Hawkins Indoor Tennis Center. Jim and Nell were honored with the Baylor Legacy Award and the Judge R.E.B. Baylor Award for their extraordinary service and philanthropy to Baylor and its Christian mission.

Upon graduation, Jim became a successful executive in financial investing, first as a managing partner with Greenstein & Hawkins and later through the J Hawk Corporation, later known as First City Financial Corporation. Jim was an inspiring example of Baylor alumni who leave the university to make an impact within their communities.

Jim is survived by his beloved wife, Nell, and an extensive collection of family, friends and loved ones. In a testament to his life of generous community impact, the family has asked for memorials to be made to the James R. Hawkins Endowment Fund in the Hankamer School of Business, the MCC Foundation, the Cameron Park Zoo and Fuzzy Friends Rescue.