Development & Alumni Relations Office 

James Hawthorne, BA 1951 (died 7 September 2006)

(Appreciation by John Cullen, Belfast)

My first contact with James Hawthorne was through a grey Le Velocette which silently sped past the top of Knockvale Park twice each day like an alien from an outer planet. The mysterious rider, my childhood hero, was soon to be revealed as none other than an outstanding teacher and public servant, the remarkable James Hawthorne.

Shortly after my arrival at Sullivan Upper in 1953 I noticed that the Velocette had been replaced by a beautiful Ford special in British racing green. James Hawthorne had a commanding knowledge of many subjects including Geography, Algebra and Geometry. He was patient, just and compassionate with an excellent sense of humour. In certain classrooms the floors were of polished timber in which slippers were required wearing. One day my slippers were not to be found in the cloakroom and I foolhardily and rather self-righteously proceeded to class in my shoes. James Hawthorne, with his eagle eye, soon detected the infringement and immediately called me to book. I was perfectly convinced of the propriety of my actions and proceeded to justify myself. The conversion was as follows:

'Cullen, why are you wearing shoes in the classroom? You know perfectly well that slippers must be worn in 4a.’ 
'But sir I have nothing else to wear. My slippers have been taken from my locker.'
‘Do you think this gives you any right to wear shoes in 4a?’
'Yes sir.’ 
‘Then take them off!’

It was like the Wisdom of Solomon in a nutshell and I have never forgotten it.

I last saw James Hawthorne about three years ago. I was walking down Malone Road opposite Methodist College one bright Spring morning when out of the blue I heard the mellifluous tones of an instantly recognisable voice that I had not heard in over forty years. It was James Hawthorne. Sleep well dear friend and counsellor.
(For a full obituary by David McKittrick, please visit The Independant website).


Back to list




Top of Page