Samuel Edward “Ed” Hawkins, Jr., a retired radio technician and former general manager of WITH radio station, died April 12 of kidney failure in the village of Augsburg, a senior living community in Baltimore County. A longtime Parkville resident he was 90 years old.
Born in Baltimore, he was the son of Samuel Edward Hawkins Sr., a nurse clothing manufacturer, and Margaret Anna Mats Hawkins, a homemaker.
“My father studied violin at the Peabody Conservatory when he was young,” said his son, Dr. S. Edward Hawkins III. “He was always interested in the idea of transmitting radio waves on radio and television, and built his first Crystal his radio set when he was 13.”
In his youth, Mr. Hawkins repaired radios and televisions while his interest in broadcasting grew. He graduated from Baltimore City College in his 1951.
Mr. Hawkins studied engineering and electronics in the Navy and was assigned to Naval Submarine Station New London in Groton, Connecticut.
After leaving the military, he continued training and later taught at the Baltimore Institute of Technology.
“A lot of people returning from the military were trying to learn a profession during this time,” his son said. “My father was responsible for helping students get training and employment in the field of radio and television broadcasting.”
Mr. Hawkins met his future wife, Hilda Anna Van Rossum, at the former Baltimore Recreation Orchestra. They married in 1957 and both were amateur violinists.
In 1955, Mr. Hawkins joined the WITH radio station, which now broadcasts as WRBS. He managed its FM operations, maintained the transmitters and audio equipment on Route 40 West, and programmed the classical music heard on the station.
“He was known to be friendly and outgoing and wore a jacket and tie. He also liked newsboys,” said his son. “He duckpins his bowling in his league and was bowling in a jacket and tie.”
Hawkins then worked in the station’s downtown studio and became chief engineer for WITH AM and FM stations.
He worked for WITH for 25 years, becoming general manager and rebuilding the studio and AM and FM transmitter site.
He eventually became General Manager and led efforts to produce broadcasts in stereo.
In the 1970s, Mr. Hawkins founded the Broadcast Services Company and led the construction of one of the country’s first powerful high school radio stations, WKHS in Wharton on the East Coast.
His company rebuilt the WBJC-FM facility on Reisterstown Road.
In 1980, he left WITH to join Harris Corp. in Quincy, Illinois, selling broadcast equipment. He remained with the company until 1994.
In his final year with the company, he became the manager of government/consultant relations for Harris Union Broadcasting Station, stationed in Washington, DC, where he did business with the Pentagon and Voice of America.
Mr. Hawkins worked in corporate sales for CompUSA before joining Data World, a Bethesda-based broadcast mapping company.
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He then joined Reeves Telecom Co., where he oversaw engineers.
Mr. Hawkins has worked in the broadcast industry for over 51 years and was a certified life member of the Society of Broadcast Engineers.
He was a member of the Calvary Lutheran Church for over 65 years.
In 2002, he and his wife joined the Baltimore Museum of Industry as lecturers. He lectured on the broadcast and apparel industry before retiring from the museum in 2020.
“During his nearly 20 years at BMI, Ed has been a treasured figure and loved by both staff and visitors,” said Jessica Selmer, the museum’s education manager. “He was an excellent educator and a brilliant storyteller, captivating everyone with his colorful tales of his days working in the clothing industry during his teenage years in the 1940s.”
Survivors include his three daughters, Laura H. Strachan of Annapolis, Linda M. Stevens of Nottingham, and Caroline A. Sersi of Joppa. son, his Dr. S. Edward Hawkins III of Ellicott City; 14 grandchildren; and 3 great-grandchildren. His wife, Hilda Anna Van Rossum, a staff member at the Baltimore Museum of Industry, passed away in 2013.
A service to Mr. Hawkins was held on April 21 at the Trinity Lutheran Church in Joppa. A Celebration of Life will be held at the Baltimore Museum of Industry on July 14 from 6:30-9:00 PM.