picture of Dwayne smiling

The Hawkins Family Foundation continues a philanthropic vision begun by Dwayne Hawkins, founder and CEO of Crown Automotive Group. Being charitable was very important to him, but it was not about leaving a legacy behind. The legacy is the people he touched along the way. “You can’t put a price on the importance of the partnerships you make and the impact it can make in your community,” Hawkins said when the Rays gave him special award during a game in April 2019.

Dwayne was a noted businessman and philanthropist. He started with a single auto dealership on 9th Street North in St. Petersburg, and turned into one of the largest privately owned dealership groups in the nation, with more than 1,100 employees. His philanthropic philosophy mirrors the one he used to build his company show them the ropes, encourage innovation, and then step back. Crown, which has 22 dealerships in Florida, Tennessee, and Ohio, was launched on April 1, 1969, when Hawkins opened the door to his new one-car-showroom Pontiac dealership. He started with a simple idea to give people a better experience “when you treat folks right; they’ll remember what you did for them and keep coming back to you.”

In 2015, he was nominated for the Time Dealer of the Year award, one of the most prestigious awards in the automotive industry. “The dealers nominated for this award are dedicated business owners, auto lovers, and, most importantly, champions for their local communities, with a willingness to give back on a grand scale,” said Tim Russi, president of auto finance for Ally Financial, one of the award co-sponsors.

Additionally, Dwayne received many other awards for his generous giving of his time and resources including:

  • Endowed the Hawkins Family Foundation Cancer and Blood Disorders Professorship. The hospital recognized his support in 2019 with the Williams.”Bill” Belcher Award, named for the All Children’s Hospital’s first chairman of the board

  • Honored as a Lightning Community Hero in January, receiving a $50,000 donation from the Lightning Foundation and the Lightning Community Heroes program that he donated to the St.Petersburg Free Clinic, Florida Dream Center, Starting Right, Now and Christian Home & Bible School.

  • Member of the Pinellas Education Foundation board of directors and funded 15 Take Stock in Children college scholarships. He received the Pinellas Free Enterprise Hall of Honor Award for outstanding support of public education.

  • Championed cancer research efforts for eight years on the Moffitt Cancer Center Foundation board. During his time on the board, Hawkins established the $600,000 Hawkins Stem Cell Endowed Chair at Moffitt Cancer Center in 2012.

  • Named to the Class of 2020 at the Tampa Bay Business Hall of Fame.

Since Dwayne’s passing on December 24, 2020, his family continues his philanthropic vision through the Hawkins Family Foundation and Crown Automotive Charities.