Ken “Buddy” Hawkins
Ken “Buddy” Hawkins, 76, passed away May 12, 2019, at the Dominican Hospital in Santa Cruz, California.
Buddy was born May 2, 1943, in Scottsbluff, Nebraska, to Kenneth and Doris (Holten) Hawkins. When he was two years old, the family moved from Nebraska to a ranch on Lower Prairie Dog in Sheridan. He spent the next 12 years as a ranch kid and surrounded himself with his dogs, horses, sheep, and baby calves.
In 1956, his dad purchased a business in Sheridan, the Spot Carburetor and Electric, and the family moved into Sheridan. Bud loved mechanics and learned from the best.
On Oct. 4, 1959, he was deer hunting on a ranch on Lower Prairie Dog with his Dad and a friend when the accident happened. He was paralyzed from that moment on for the next 60 years. After being hospitalized for many weeks, he was transferred to Gottsche Rehabilitation Center in Thermopolis for the next three months. While in Gottsche he made a date with some of the police force and sneaked out to see the town from a patrol car. He didn’t come back until after midnight and was in trouble with the administration.
After leaving Gottsche, his parents heard of a clinic in New York that was famous for treatment of cases like Bud’s. His Mother accompanied him to New York and he was there for several months. There were no strict hospital rules and he and other patients saw New York in wheelchairs.
This hospital helped to change his outlook on life. Bud went back to Sheridan High school upon his return from New York and with the help of his great friends who carried him and his wheelchair up three flights of stairs morning and night he was able to graduate with his class. During this time, he became interested in learning to play the guitar, which remained a passion for the rest of his life. He never went anywhere that his guitar wasn’t by his side.
The fall after graduating from high school, he enrolled in Sheridan College. During his sophomore year at Sheridan College and as a member of the student senate, he wrote a history of SC after discovering a widespread lack of knowledge among the students on this subject. After graduating from Sheridan College, he went to Arizona State in Tempe and earned a degree bio-chemistry.
While attending college, he was the leader of a rock ‘n roll band, “The Electra’s.” After graduation, in 1965, he became a microbiologist for the county public health office in San Jose. He would visit the rehabilitation facility next door and give demonstrations to the handicapped clients in maneuvering techniques of a wheelchair. He also worked with engineering students from Stanford University to study his designs and for them to earn academic credits. After work Bud would return to his garage/machine shop and that’s where his talents truly bloomed.
He created a stand-up wheelchair, elevating seat wheelchairs, and mono-skis for the disabled. During all this building of wheelchairs, he purchased a used 1978 400cc Hondamatic and began tinkering in earnest, ending up with a pragmatic blend of Roman chariot and motorcycle. Bud rolled his wheelchair onto the pages of Cycle World magazine in an article about the Hondamatic 400 powered side hack. He has seen people almost have accidents watching him ride this motorcycle, but he also got a lot of thumbs-up.
The love of the Bighorn Mountains called him back on several occasions to go on snowmobile trips with his dad and friends. He took a trip through Yellowstone Park and had an incident which put him to work on designing a snowmobile for paraplegics. He designed the machine and seat so he would not fall and could keep up with the snowmobile bunch, as well as carry his wheel chair with him. Bud and his dad spent many hours together on this project and his dad was never more proud than when saw what Bud could accomplish with his mechanical skills.
After 28 years with the county health lab, he retired to Boulder Creek, California. His project then was building a handicapped house on top of the Santa Cruz Mountains and continuing his work on design and mechanics. He played his guitar with a group of musicians and played for church groups.
Buddy was preceded in death by his parents, Kenneth and Doris Hawkins and Baby Sister Deanne Kay.
He is survived by his Sister Doree (Larry) Kobold, nephews Steve and Greg (Sharon) Kobold, great-nephews Tel and Miles Kobold, great-nieces Maddie Kobold and Paige (Michael) Cox, great-great-nephews, Kasyn and Easton Cox, and great-great-niece Mylee Kobold.
A private graveside service will be held. There will be a reception as well as a video of his incredible life at noon on Friday, July 19, 2019, at the Elks Lodge.
Memorials honoring Buddy can be made to the Shrine Crippled Children Fund c/o Kalif Shrine, P.O. Box K, Sheridan, Wy 82801.
Online condolences may be written at www.kanefuneral.com.
Kane Funeral Home has been entrusted with local arrangements.
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