Harvest House Founder Dies at 87, Passion Was to Help the Hurts of People
Press Release—Eugene, Oregon—February 10, 2010—RH "Bob" Hawkins, Sr., the visionary founder of Harvest House Publishers and a loving husband, an inspiring father, and a cheerleading grandfather, went home to be with the Lord on Tuesday, February 9, 2010. He was 87 and died following a long and arduous battle with Parkinson's disease.
A Memorial Celebration Service will be held on Tuesday, February 23, 2010, at 1:00 pm. at First Baptist Church of Eugene, Oregon. Arrangements and private burial will be at Rest Haven Memorial Park in Eugene, Oregon.
Harvest House Publishers was the vision of an innovative, risk-taking, faith-extending man by the name of Bob Hawkins Sr., who believed the paperback book could carry the Christian message to the masses.
Hawkins received the Lifetime Achievement award from the Evangelical Christian Publishing Association (ECPA) and the Life Impact Award from the Christian Booksellers Association (CBA). Hawkins was instrumental in the establishment of ECPA, and served several terms on its board and as its president from 1985-1986.
Harvest House president Bob Hawkins, Jr., stated, "My father was known as a confident visionary and enterprising entrepreneur in the Christian publishing industry. He played a key supportive role in helping authors impact literally tens of millions of lives by sharing Christ's love through the thousands of books he published and sold with unparalleled passion."
Hawkins, Jr., continued, "But he also leaves a more personal legacy—one of investing in the lives of others. Along with his honest faith in God, he had a resolute belief in the potential of people—family, friends, authors, and business associates." Longtime Harvest House author Emilie Barnes, once said of Hawkins, Sr., "Without his faith in me over 25 years ago, I would not have been able to write over 70 books. He saw something in me that I wasn't able to see in myself. He took a gamble to publish my first book, More Hours in My Day. His vision gave me the encouragement to be all that he saw in me..."
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.
In 1991, at the age of 69, Hawkins turned over the reins of the company presidency to his son, Bob Hawkins, Jr., and officially retired from Harvest House. However, he continued to influence the publishing program by bringing quality authors to Harvest House when he was impressed by their ministry or he felt they had a valuable message to convey.
Bestselling Harvest House author Stormie Omartian described Hawkins as "a man of integrity, an ambassador of good will, a messenger of peace, a kind-hearted soul. A gentleman, a gentle man, clearly planted, ever growing in the palm of God's hand. One who loved many and was much loved in return."
Hawkins is survived by his wife of 56 years, Shirley, three children, four grandchildren, and leaves behind a legacy of countless friends whose lives are richer because of his impact, influence, and faith.
About the Publisher:
Harvest House is among the top ten Christian publishing companies, publishing more than 160 books each year and carrying a strong backlist offering more than 700 titles. Over 100 million Harvest House books have been sold worldwide through diverse distribution channels, and additional millions have sold in over 35 different languages.