John Hawkins, the former RI Senate majority leader, father of the R.I. Lottery and a political power in Rhode Island for generations, died early Monday of a stroke. He was 80.
He was active until the last few hours of his life, said his nephew, William Hawkins, who along with other family members was at Hawkins bedside at Rhode Island Hospital when he died at 12:20 a.m. He had stopped one of his favorite spots, Twin Oaks in Cranston just hours before collapsing at his Providence home.
Hawkins represented a district that included some of the Mount Pleasant and Manton neighborhoods in Providence and neighborhoods in Johnston and North Providence.
In 1973, Hawkins was the leader of the measure that established the Lottery. He later was director of the state lottery.
An old-school politician who also ran unsuccessfully for U.S. Senate in the 1976 Democratic primary that was won by an underdog, car dealer Richard Lorber, who defeated a multi-candidate field that also included Gov. Phil Noel. Lorber lost the general election to Republican John Chafee, who four years earlier had lost a Senate campaign to Democrat Claiborne Pell.
Hawkins was also instrumental in General Assembly approval of Police Officers Bill of Rights. He was appointed to the Lottery directorship by Gov. Bruce Sundlun and ousted by Republican Gov. Lincoln Almond.
Funeral arrangements are incomplete, according to William Hawkins. John Hawkins was the brother of former state Sen. Catherine Graziano, D-Providence.