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Ross Hawkins 1939 - 2020

Fern Davies

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Dr. H. Ross Hawkins

June 9, 1939 to July 9, 2020




We are saddened to announce the death of  Dr. H. Ross Hawkins. Ross was in Hospice of the Valley for five days in Scottsdale, Arizona, and died at 81 of complications from an aortic aneurysm.

Ross lived a ‘hummingbird-inspired’ and ‘joy-filled’ life. As Founder and Executive director of the International Hummingbird Society headquartered in Sedona, Arizona,  he touched many lives in the community with his unwavering enthusiasm for and deep knowledge of hummingbirds. This wealth was shared through the seven years of the successful Society-sponsored Sedona Hummingbird Festival that brought hummingbird lovers to Sedona from every state and 12 different countries.

Ross liked to say that he had a checkered past, as he began his career as a chemist, with a PhD from the University of California, Berkeley, and was employed as a research scientist for E. I. DuPont de Nemours in Wilmington, Delaware for 9 years.  Too gregarious to work in seclusion forever, he changed careers and became an investment advisor and worked as Vice President in investments for Morgan Stanley, retiring after 22 years.

In 1987, he married Beth Kingsley Hawkins, who shared her love of hummingbirds with him, and in 1996, while still working in Delaware. he founded the non-profit Hummingbird Society. Upon his retirement in 2006, they left Maryland (a state where the Ruby-throated hummingbird was the only nesting species and it didn’t stay for the winter) and moved to Sedona, with its abundance of hummingbirds. Traveling to learn about and photograph hummingbirds in their natural habitat, they made eight trips to Trinidad and Tobago and one to Costa Rica.  Ross himself made two trips to Robinson Crusoe Island off the coast of Chile to study the endangered Juan Fernandez Firecrown (hummingbird) and one to Honduras, hoping to and succeeding in finding expanded habitat for the Honduran Emerald hummingbird.

Few people know the back story of how he received the idea to create the Society. Michael Godfrey, Arthur Godfrey’s son, had made a definitive video of the hummingbirds up close in Arizona. As Ross spoke with him about it, Michael lamented that there wasn’t a Hummingbird Society and suggested maybe Ross was the one to create it. That was an AHA moment for Ross. The idea took root. He was shocked to learn that there was no organization to protect these tiny jewels. Once off the phone, Ross took a big blank white chart, drew a wheel with the Society at the center and spokes out from the center naming all the things he would need to know and do to found a non-profit, and the Hummingbird Society was born.  He then proceeded to put feet under his dream, defining a mission to help people understand and appreciate hummingbirds and to provide a channel to help save the ones that are endangered. Of 365 species of hummingbirds, 39 of the ones found in Central and South America are endangered. He summed up the purpose of the Society in this way: it is to teach people about hummingbirds, so they will understand them better; knowing that from that understanding and caring, will come support for their protection. In this way Ross connected many people more intimately with nature and created a way for many people to express that love.

If you knew Ross, you know how much he loved speaking and teaching about these precious flying gems, and he became certified as a Professional Speaker by the National Speaker’s Association in 2010. He also relished nature photography and he and Beth were  charter members of the North American Nature Photographer’s Association. They also joined the local Northern Arizona Audubon Society. In addition, he was a resonant baritone and an enthusiastic member of the local barbershop group, Harmony on the Rocks. With diverse musical tastes, he and Beth also sang the magnificent O Magnum Mysterium  with the composer Morten Lauridsen conducting.

Ross was born in Fayetteville, Arkansas to Dero B. and Mary E. Hawkins, Ross was preceded in death by his younger brother, Gary Hawkins. Ross grew up in Tulsa, Oklahoma. He is survived by his devoted wife Beth Kingsley Hawkins of Sedona, and his two amazing daughters;  Sandra West, and her husband Mike West of Lakewood, Colorado, and Anita Hawkins and her husband Rev. Craig Cowing of Rocky Hill, Connecticut.

Donations to continue the valuable conservation work of the Society are welcomed in honor of Ross, its founder, as we seek to find and fund a new director. To donate, go to www.hummingbirdsociety.org  and click on the button that reads, Join, renew or donate.

 In addition, the family would value help for the funeral expenses, since Beth’s Sedona Hummingbird Gallery has been closed since March, due to the risk of the Covid virus   A contribution in that regard would go to Beth Kingsley Hawkins P. O. Box 20398, Sedona, AZ 86341. We are grateful for your support.


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