Rochester, Minn., is known as the hometown of both the Mayo Clinic and route operator Dick Hawkins. “The Hawk” was not only one of Minnesota’s largest route jukebox, games and later vending owners, but also served as president of both MOMA and the national AMOA back in the ’80s. Hawkins is best known, however, as co-founder of the VNEA (“Valley League”) with Chuck Milhem. This most successful of all coin-op promotions held its very first international tournament in Rochester’s Kayler Hotel.
Dick passed away on Saturday, Jan. 28, 2017, at The Waters on Mayowood care facility where he’d been struggling with a return of his cancer as with the effects of memory loss. Born in Rochester back in 1941, he founded D&R Inc. (later to become D&R/Star) in 1963. The local 8-ball league he and brother Dave started up one day, in fact, eventually became the template for VNEA. (He was also highly instrumental in the formation of AMOA’s National Dart Assn.).
Dick Hawkins is also known as the AMOA chief who tangled with the AAMA manufacturers in a legal issue over video game boards during the Chicago Expo back in 1987. He was the highest-profile game operator at the time and the argument focused lots of attention on a side of the business now long forgotten. One result was a more honest dialog and eventually a closer union between operators and manufacturers that exists to this day (as in the combined Expo held each March).
On the personal side, Dick loved to hunt big game and frequently traveled to Africa to exercise this passion. Stuffed trophies lined the walls of his homes over the years. Lots of his time outside the industry was also devoted to his Masonic Lodge and Shriners Club work. He was also an avid supporter of the Gamehaven Council of the Boy Scouts of America.
Survivors include his wife Margie, sons Scott, Michael, Paul and daughter Renee and spouses, plus nine grandchildren. Services are scheduled for 10 a.m. on Friday, Feb. 3, 2017, at Ranfranzvine Funeral Home (5421 Royal Place, Rochester). In Lieu of flowers, friends and mourners are asked to make a memorial contribution either to the Shriners Children’s Hospital, the Boy Scouts of America or to the Alzheimer’s Assn.
Minnesota’s and the coin-op nation’s favorite son. . . at least for a time in our history. . . is gone now, but so much of what he created, especially in coin-op sports, carries on. May he rest in God’s peace.