Friday, November 8, 2013

Andy Yates: My Friend Jack Hawke -- A True Gentleman and Scholar. You'll Be Missed.

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My Friend Jack Hawke: The Pennsylvania Yankee was the Southern Gentleman of North Carolina Politics

by Andy Yates
Andy and JackThis has been a very tough week of reflection for me. At 9:03pm on Monday night I got a call informing me that Jack Hawke had passed away. I have shared lots of tears but also laughed and smiled a ton as I reflect on my friend Jack Hawke.   Jack is a legend of a man, but most importantly to me he is a friend, a mentor, a role model and a father-figure.
Jack Hawke is the father of the modern Republican Party in North Carolina, and the positive impact he continues to have on our state cannot be overstated. Some of the highlights include Campaign Manager for Congressman Jim Gardner’s upset victory in 1966, Campaign Manager for Gov. Jim Martin’s election in 1984, longest serving chairman in the history of the NCGOP, chief strategist for Jim Gardner’s winning Lieutenant Governor’s campaign in 1988, the architect of the Republican takeover of the NC House in 1994 for the first time in the 20th Century,  campaign consultant for Congresswoman Virginia Foxx in 2004 when she won as tough and as expensive of a Congressional primary as has ever occurred in North Carolina, and the campaign consultant for Governor Pat McCrory’s big win in 2012 (the first time a Republican nominee for Governor has ever out polled the Republican nominee for President).  Without him we would not have a Republican Governor and Lieutenant Governor, a Republican Senate and House, and a Republican majority on the NC Supreme Court for the first time in 1872.
However the measure of the man and his greatest impact is on the lives that he touched.  Jack Hawke has been a friend, a mentor, a big brother, a father-figure to so many in our state, inside and outside of politics. His legacy will live on for decades to come.
The son of a Methodist minister from Pennsylvania and a past president of the New Jersey College Republicans, The Pennsylvania Yankee was the Southern Gentleman of North Carolina politics.  He was always honest and forthright.  Everything he did was ethical and above board. I never heard him say a curse word and the worst thing I ever heard him say about anyone was that they were acting like a jerk.  He was always positive, always upbeat, and always had something up his sleeve.  His sense of humor was timeless and his laugh contagious. Talking to Jack just made you feel better, no matter what was going on, it just made you feel better.
Everyone mattered to Jack.  He had time for everyone. There were no unimportant people to him. When it came to campaigning two of the first things Jack taught me is to take time to speak to everyone and let them know they are appreciated and to lead by example…never ask someone to do something that you won’t do yourself.
I met Jack Hawke for the first time at the NCGOP Convention in Hickory in 1999. I was a freshman in College volunteering on Bill Cobey’s campaign for State Party Chairman.  We were meeting to discuss what needed to happen that weekend when Jack Hawke walked into the room.  I was immediately blown away by both his wisdom and the respect showed to him by everyone in that room. Our paths would cross a few more times over the next 11 years and as a student of North Carolina politics I certainly knew and appreciated the legend that is Jack Hawke, but I didn’t really get to know Jack until June of 2010.
When Jack Hawke hired me in June of 2010 to manage Ilario Pantano’s campaign for the 7th Congressional District, someone told me that managing a campaign with Jack Hawke as the consultant is like getting a Master’s Degree in Politics.  I quickly learned they were wrong. It was more than that. It was at least a PhD not only in Politics but also in life and in how to be a better person.
It was definitely true that I learned more in 5 months of working for Jack Hawke then I learned in 8 previous years of working in politics (not just because Jack was so smart but because he took the time to mentor & teach), but I learned so much more about life and living.
Jack wouldn’t just tell you to do something, he would take the time to explain the why behind it (unless of course it was something he found irrelevant in which case he would laugh and say “handle it, handle it, handle it”). He didn’t just dispense orders. He sought out your advice and input Jack respected everyone’s opinions and always listened.  He demanded your best and you gave your best because you never wanted to disappoint him.  He openly shared his experiences and lessons from 40 – plus years of campaigns with me….the good, the bad, and the funny.  He taught me to always give it my best, to always work hard, to always be respectful, to always do what is right, and to never back down.
When the campaign ended, Jack didn’t abandon me.  He kept me under his wing and was always there for me, just a phone call away.   He mentored me to the point that I’ll be talking to a client, I’ll give them advice, I’ll stop and wonder where that came from, then it will hit me that it came from Jack Hawke.  Up until the very last time I talked to him, Jack was upbeat and positive. He wanted to know what was happening with my life and my business, he was dispensing advice, and offering his help and assistance.  It didn’t matter how much he was suffering, he was FAAANTASTIC and he was there for his friends.
Without Jack Hawke I don’t know where I would be today but I I wouldn’t be the person I am today.
As many know, Jack’s trademark was to say “FAAAAAN-TASTIC, Thank You” whenever someone asked him how he was doing.  To which I would always reply “That’s what I wanted to hear,” and it really was because no matter what was going on it always made me feel better to hear him say that.
Whenever something strange, weird, or unusual would happen on the campaign trail, I would tell Jack “I better write that down. That’s going in the book” to which Jack would always respond “When you write your book just remember to be kind to an old man.”  Well Jack, I could never be as kind to you as you have always been to me.  Thank you Jack for being as good of a man as I’ve ever known.
What I would give to be able to pick up the phone one more time, call Jack Hawke, ask him how he is doing, and hear him respond “FAAAAN-TASTIC, Thank you!” Or better yet to meet him for lunch at the Player’s Retreat in Raleigh.
I’ve said this to Jack and my close political friends have heard me say this before, but I still want to be Jack Hawke when I grow up!
Andy Yates | November 8, 2013 at 9:38 am | URL: