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Charles C. 'Corky' Hawk

Corky HawkDied: February 3, 2022

In approaching this tribute, the name “Corky” was so deeply embedded in memory that one had to pause to come up with the proper name of Charles Hawk. Corky died unexpectedly on February 3, 2022, leaving a wide circle of friends and his wife, Yolanda Romero-Hawk.

Corky was a product of the West, coming to Yale in his freshman year as a graduate of Denver South High School. He was a resident of Timothy Dwight College and an economics major. He distinguished himself as a college aide in TD, serving as the Chief Printer to then-Master Thomas Bergin. In that capacity he was responsible for printing and posting the numerous edicts issued by the Master to govern, inform, and bring order to the “Republic” we were citizens of. Corky also served as the Chair of the Mott Woolley Council for his college-mates.

Upon graduation, he attended the University of Michigan Law School. He joined a Grand Rapids law firm, working for 29 years with a specialty in labor law. As part of his practice, he had the opportunity to argue before the U.S. Supreme Court. But his career took a sharp turn in 1997 when he abandoned law practice and moved to Taos, New Mexico. He never formally practiced again, using his legal skills only periodically for civic and historic projects, mostly land or water disputes.

He took up a second career, pursuing his strong interest in the history, archeology, and culture of the Southwest. He would spend countless hours exploring and mapping ancient native trails, villages, and cultural sites, discovering them and documenting his findings.

He received a citation from the New Mexico Heritage Preservation Alliance, for his “Excellence in Stewardship in Historic Preservation.” Other awards were presented from the Daughters of the American Revolution and the State of New Mexico.

He contributed articles to historic anthologies, published his studies in local historical journals and newsletters, and served as an active leader in historical societies. He also turned out to be a skilled craftsman with wood working, producing personally designed furniture and other furnishings. Some of these skills were applied in his leadership in the restoration of a historic mill in Taos.

His personal life was also divided into two distinct parts. While at Yale, he began dating Mary Anne Sagnelli of Albertus Magnus. They were married following law school and made the move together to Taos in 1997. Unfortunately, she passed away at age 61, leaving Corky a widower. Following a long period alone, he met and married his second wife, Yolanda Rivera-Hawk in 2013. In the Class 50th Reunion book, he stated “I learned that I was not too old to again fall in love.” With her background as a teacher and artist specializing in Spanish colonial devotional art, she shared in Corky’s many explorations, field studies, and historic projects.

– Memorial written by James Roberts

Remembrance: Jerry Lieberg

Corky was a great friend to be around – a mischievous smile that welcomed everyone. We were across the hall from each other in Lawrence freshman year. We were kindred spirits – being from the Intermountain West, Colorado and Idaho.

There were several enduring memories from freshman year. There were the evening discussions in Commons that seemed to go on for hours and then for days. There were so many issues that seemed so important at the time. We were learning how to listen, think, and adapt.

Being from “west of the Hudson River,” we learned early on that what we now call fly-over country was a missing piece in the geographic education of many. Corky, Bob Donaldson, and I spent weeks convincing some that we had begun our trip to Yale via stagecoach to a rail connection. And then we had to spend weeks unconvincing them.

And there was Vietnam. Corky got a huge map of Vietnam that he mounted on a door in his room. Many evenings we would go through the Times articles on the battles from the previous day and plot the military activity.

Freshman year I connected with a senior who was also from Idaho. He connected me with the Salt Lake City Auto Auction. The company bought late model cars in the Philadelphia area and would pay something less than $50 for students to team up and drive the cars to Salt Lake City. We were on our own for expenses. I made the trip 7 times and Corky was part of the group on 4 or 5 trips. I was the only one who lived past Salt Lake – I always delivered the cars. We drove straight through with two exceptions. On a trip in a white Cadillac convertible we got caught in a blizzard in Nebraska – state police were blocking the highways and four of us crammed into a local motel for the night. On another trip, when we got to Denver, Corky’s mom convinced me to take a break and I spent the night at their home. It was fun getting to spend time with his parents. We used to be able to make the trip from Yale to Philly on a bus and then drive across country for less than $40 each. It was a 2200 mile trip and gas was $.30 a gallon.

On one of our later trips, we had a heated debate on whether or not to take the toll road across Pennsylvania. I don’t recall Corky’s side of the issue but the cheapskates prevailed. We saved about $6 and spent over 12 hours crossing the Keystone state. Never again. We used to average 60± for the entire trip – we averaged 30 crossing Pennsylvania.

At TD Corky put out printed material – including custom creations – with the old letterpress that existed at that time. I remember going to the press room with him and marveling at how he mastered putting the letters individually into the tray and printing. I remember helping him clean the press . . . once. And Corky loved popcorn. I don’t recall what illegal appliance he used to cook it, but it was frequent and shared.

Remembrance: Herb Stein

Corky was a character! He was friendly, outgoing and spoke his mind. He didn’t hesitate to tell people what he thought of them or if he disagreed with them, but he did it without an angry tone or obvious disrespect. He said what he thought. When I came to Yale in 1962 from my home in New York, I met my new roommates: Corky, from Denver and Bob Donaldson, from Seattle. Corky was outspokenly positive about Denver. He loved it there, although I don’t think he lived there at any point or for any length after graduation.

He went to law school after college and ended up in Michigan, working as a clerk for judge at one point. Much later, he moved to Taos, New Mexico, where he became very active with the local historical society, spending hours, as I understood it from him, searching for arrowheads and other artifacts in the area. His obituary has a picture of him from a few years back being honored at meeting of the historical society there. To me, he didn’t look very much different than the way he looked when I met him at Lawrence Hall. He didn’t seem to age in appearance like the rest of us.

He was kind and caring. I remember walking into our rooms at Lawrence Hall and seeing a strange boy, possibly a little younger than us, sleeping on the couch. It turned out that Corky had met him, learned that he was homeless and a little lost and invited him to come in to get some rest. I forget what eventually happened with him, but it stands out as a memory of Corky’s kindness and his willingness to go outside the usual boundaries.

He also could be playfully destructive. At some point, I think also in the first year, he was kicked off campus for a couple of weeks for throwing water bombs out of a window and hitting a couple dressed up and going to or coming from a New Years Eve party as I remember it.

He met his girlfriend and future wife at a mixer. Her name was Mary Anne Sagnelli, a student at Albertus Magnus College. She was a pretty, nice and sweet girl, and she and Corky were very much in love almost from the beginning. My sense is that he saw her as someone to value and protect. Corky was not someone to date around. He found his love quickly and was faithful to her forever. Many years later, when we were mostly out of touch, I heard from Corky that Mary Ann had died and he was grieving. I was of course sad to hear it, both for his loss and because I had known and liked her. I lost my wife a couple of years later and we shared our grief, distantly and briefly. I don’t remember how long it took, but Corky met his second wife Yolanda while he was living in Taos, New Mexico. It sounds like it was a somewhat similar relationship.

As I remember it, Corky was always something of a leader at TD, someone who was generally well-known and liked, and someone who was involved in group activities.

A few years ago, I got a message that is still on my phone: “Hey, Herb. Herb, this is Corky, calling from Taos, (gave his phone number). Call me when you can. Hope you’re taking care of yourself.” I did call him back and over the next few years, we spoke to each other irregularly, but with a feeling of close friendship. I think the last call I got from him, sometime last year in the fall, was from his car. He was outside the dentist office waiting for his wife, who was getting her dental work. We spoke for a while, and I assumed I would hear from him again.

But one weekend I was checking my messages and got one from Corky’s second wife, Yolanda. She was tearful and very distressed, saying, possibly more than once, “My Corky is dead.” It was very sad, and came as a shock to me. I called her back when I got home later that weekend, and have tried to stay in touch. As I hear it, he was everything to her.

I didn’t speak to him very often, and I’m sorry now I didn’t call him some time in that interval after I spoke with him “outside the dental office.” I assumed I would speak with him again, and I very much miss him.