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Hawkins left mark on this newspaper, Beaverton community

by: Mike Lucas,

This newspaper stands on a foundation built by Elbert Hawkins. The 89-year-old former owner and publisher of the Valley Times died last week in Santa Barbara, Calif.

He owned the Valley Times from 1951 until March 1981, when he retired after selling the paper and the Tigard Times to the Register Guard Publishing Co. of Eugene.

He was a community leader who saw that the fates of his newspapers and the cities he covered were intertwined. Hawkins was a cheerleader and a critic, an agitator and a guide.

Hawkins' contribution to Beaverton can be seen today in the Beaverton Area Chamber of Commerce (which he helped start and was its third president), the Tualatin Hills Park and Recreation District (which he promoted when it was just getting started 50 years ago) and Highway 217 (which he also prodded the Legislature to build).

In short, Hawkins was an old-fashioned newspaperman who tried to be in the middle of just about everything that happened. He believed that a good newspaper made a city better, and vice versa.

Hawkins wasn't a giant of the industry, and he didn't like being thought of that way. He and longtime Beaverton-area reporters like Jeanne Leeson, who died at 93 just two weeks before Hawkins, were ordinary people doing extraordinary things.

They were optimistic about the future and realistic about the present. Their efforts helped shape this region.

We at the Valley Times today live in a fast-paced world that for all its cutting-edge technology and go-go-go-ness is still very much like the world Hawkins and Leeson inhabited.

They believed, as we believe, that a good community deserves a good local newspaper. We strive to fulfill that promise every day.

Elbert Hawkins was a man who spent his life telling other people about the world that swirled around them. He was a newspaperman of the highest order.

We are saddened by his passing, and honored to share his dream.