In September 2018, we said goodbye to Bob Hawkes, a dear friend and longtime supporter of Natural Lands. Bob was a gentle, soft-spoken man with an endless supply of generosity and purpose that—in accordance with his estate plans—now extends well beyond his lifetime.
Bob and his late wife Betsy lived on a picturesque, nine-acre farm along a small tributary to Brandywine Creek, not far from our Stroud Preserve. The property had been in the Hawkes family since 1920, and the couple felt a deep connection to the land and memories created there.
Bob’s grandfather raised strawberries and other crops in the rich soil. Bob and Betsy continued the farming tradition, growing 85 percent of their own food and donating the surplus to area food cupboards. Bob and Betsy also kept a dozen beehives and produced their own honey.
To ensure the family’s nine-acre property was protected permanently, Bob worked with Natural Lands in 2009 to place the land under conservation easement—a decision he and Betsy had made prior to her death. “I was born and raised here, and my attachment to this place has always been very deep. For me, the easement is a sort of memorial to my family and my late wife, for whom I have so much love.”
A retired professor, Bob’s lifetime of care encompassed many—the local food pantry, the PA Association for Sustainable Agriculture, county and state beekeepers associations, the Volunteer English Program in West Chester, and others.
Upon his death, Bob’s generosity continued. He made significant gifts to Natural Lands via his IRA and estate, and—most touchingly—donated to us the cherished family farm. Per his wishes, the property is now sold to a new conservation steward with proceeds benefiting Natural Lands’ broader mission.
“This place is my heritage. Through Natural Lands, it will become my legacy,” Bob confided to us. And so it has.