Working with a Smile

May 1, 2017

Starting this month, we will spotlight a city worker once a month.


They say if you love what you do you'll never work a day in your life. 67-year-old Ray Hawthorne proves this to be true. Just ask anyone in the City of Jacksonville. Few residents probably know Hawthorne by name, but they've most likely seen him picking up trash in the community. He welcomes each passing motorists with a friendly wave and big smile.

Hawthorne is the city’s street cleaner and he couldn't be happier about it. He has been back employed for the city for nine years now and has no plans of quitting anytime soon, “the good Lord willing."

Stanley Carr, Hawthorne’s supervisor, said he is proud to have him on board.

“He always has the most positive attitude regardless of what life throws at him," Carr said. “He takes pride in his work and it shows.” “I look forward to seeing him every morning reading his Bible in the parking lot before 6 a.m.” Hawthorne has been married for 35 years to wife Sibbie and has six children. He is chairman of the deacon board at New Hope Missionary Baptist Church.

Hawthorne tells stories about how some motorists stop and tell him how he makes their day. One cold, dreary morning a lady stopped to tell him how she was dreading going to work that day, but then she saw him smiling and waving while picking up trash alongside the road. She was headed to a warm office and she said God put him in her life that morning to show her she needed to be thankful for all she had. Now they are good friends. Hawthorne credits God for everything good in his life and never passes up a chance to witness to his community both young and old.

“I try to find joy in every day,’’ said Hawthorne. “Sometimes all folks need is a smile to brighten their day." Let Hawthorne inspire us all to find the good in each day.

Photo and story by Anita Kilgore