Beloved influential professor, pioneering department head, loving family man, a personal friend, excellent mentor and fellow fly fishing enthusiast, Murray Free Hawkins Jr. died March 7, 2013 at the age of 95. He was born in 1917 in Cincinnati, Ohio, to Mary Stone McBryde Hawkins and Murray Free Hawkins, Sr. He attended LSU and received a B.S. degree in Chemistry in 1938 and an M.S. degree in Physics in 1940. Hawkins co-authored the world-renowned textbook Applied Petroleum Reservoir Engineering. The Craft and Hawkins Department of Petroleum Engineering at Louisiana State University is named in his honor. Former students of his have programs or buildings named for them.
Hawkins is survived by his wife of 70 years, Julia Welles Hawkins; his children: Lad Hawkins of Jacksonville, Florida, Warren Hawkins of Houston, Texas, and Asheville, NC, Margaret Hawkins Matens of Sewanee, Tennessee, and Julia “Jugie” Hawkins Battle of Sunset, Louisiana their spouses, children and grandchildren.
He served as an officer in the U.S. Navy during World War II in the South Pacific. He was on duty in a small boat in the harbor when Pearl Harbor was bombed. He joined the LSU Department of Petroleum Engineering in 1946 as a professor of petroleum engineering and director of the LSU Geology Camp in Colorado. He was head of the Petroleum Engineering Department from 1964 until 1977. He made deep and lasting impressions on students and professors who have themselves gone on to serve important roles in the petroleum industry. He was significant in developing the LSU Department of Petroleum Engineering to one of the world’s best. His former students were instrumental in naming the department that he led the “Craft and Hawkins Department of Petroleum Engineering” in 1988.
I worked for Murray for a few years and found him to be one of the best bosses possible; a fantastic mentor. I remember one conversation in particular. I was trying to impress him with my work at the time when he surprised me with a response that has resonated with me ever since. “If someone isn’t trying to hire you away, them maybe you aren’t living up to your potential.” He wanted the best and was aware that the best people would move on to continue to grow.
He was a plain, down-to-earth fellow who built his house with his own hands, and was a proud gardener. His character and strong fundamental, basic foundation enabled his to excel in his chosen field of educating. He was always able to select the simplest most direct example possible to make a clear explanation that ‘most everyone could follow and grasp; from a pencil stub suspended by cotton twine to demonstrate a drill string to silly putty demonstrating geological deformation, to a soaked sponge between glass plates to demonstrate a reservoir.
Murray Hawkins you are missed!