From the July 2005 issue of The Fossil
Lee Hawes retired from The Tampa Tribune at the end of 2004, after fifty-two years of service. He filed his final "History & Heritage" page for the Sunday Tribune on December 26, 2004. Fellow Tribune columnist Steve Otto, his colleague for thirty-five years, called Lee "the institutional memory of this town." Lee first came to the attention of the Tribune in 1941, when the newspaper reported on the 11-year-old Lee's weekly mimeographed neighborhood newspaper the Flint Lake Diver. The Tribune renamed its research center "The Leland M. Hawes, Jr. Archives & Research Center" and granted him a lifetime building pass and a research "nest" to pursue his "retirement" projects.
Honors for Lee did not stop with his retirement. On January 28, 2005, he was the guest of honor at a luncheon hosted by the Tampa Bay History Center and the University of South Florida Special Collections Department. Over 400 persons, including AAPA colleagues Fred Liddle and Sean Donnelly, attended. Tampa Mayor Pam Iorio proclaimed January 28, 2005 to be "Leland M. Hawes Day."
Lee is certainly not letting the grass grow under his feet following his retirement. Besides serving as Vice President for The Fossils, he is currently running for AAPA President.
The following thoughts about Lee by Fred Liddle were originally printed in The American Amateur Journalist for March 2005 under the title "A salute to a good friend who made a difference in my life":
For every old saw there is said to be an "exception that proves the rule." Thus, the old myth that spinsters and bachelors tend to be self-centered must be true because of the exception: Leland Hawes.
On the occasion of his end of the year retirement from "Mother Trib," honors were heaped on him, not only by management but even more so by the many co-workers whose lives he touched.
Lee's interest in the job didn't end with the completion of his shift or assigned duties. Like the newspaperman he is, he always had his eyes out for a story. When he heard of or spotted a news item, he would always tip off the appropriate colleague in the department that should cover the story: features, business, whatever.
Nor should we forget another segment of the population whose lives he touched: the readers. Leland and I lunch together frequently and I couldn't keep track of all the times he was approached by acquaintances or total strangers who told him how much they enjoyed his Sunday "History & Heritage" page.
On a personal basis, when my New York employer closed his shop shortly before the 1971 Tampa AAPA convention, I told Lee I'd have to forget about attending. He immediately urged me to fly down if I could, offered to let me stay at his house and save the price of a hotel room. And in spite of all the convention details that needed his attention, he broke away long enough to take me to the Tribune building and introduced me to the superintendent of the photoengraving department. This led to a job of nearly 20 year duration.
I'm grateful to say he touched my life, too.