Harvest House Founder Dies at 87, Passion Was to Help the Hurts of People
RH "Bob" Hawkins was born in Fairland, Oklahoma on March 10, 1922. At the age of 18, he received Christ as his Savior and Lord, and so began a life of service and dedication to God. Bob served as a staff sergeant in the United States Army, and then attended the University of Oklahoma, Northwestern Bible College in Minneapolis, and Westmont College in Southern California. While at Northwestern, Bob met Shirley Curtis, and they were married on August 7, 1953.
Bob and Shirley's joint commitment to sharing the gospel was evident from the early years of their marriage as they traveled for Scripture Press and then owned and operated two Christian bookstores. In 1965, Hawkins joined Ken Taylor in the very early days of Tyndale House Publishers and worked as Vice President of Sales and Marketing. Hawkins' marketing efforts expanded the circulation of Tyndale's The Christian Reader. His most rewarding accomplishment in his eight years at Tyndale was developing the distinctive green padded cover for the newly completed Living Bible, which he passionately promoted, marketed, and sold.
Hawkins noticed that very few Christian books were being produced to meet the real needs and hurts of "the masses." So at age 52, when most people are considering retirement, Hawkins—a risk-taker willing to step out in faith and in response to God's calling—founded Harvest House Publishers in Irvine, California in 1974, working out of his garage and a small office. Within two years, four Harvest House titles had sold more than 100,000 copies, and then the company landed a number one bestseller. Hawkins moved the company to Eugene, Oregon in 1981 because of the quality of life he envisioned it would offer for his employees and their families. The company has since grown to be among the top ten largest Christian publishing companies in the world, producing high quality and affordable books, Bibles, and products.