Bess Lomax Hawes Dies at 88

Bess Lomax Hawes 1921- 2009

By Michael Corcoran | Sunday, November 29, 2009, 05:47 PM

Bess Hawes, the youngest child of legendary University of Texas folklorist John A. Lomax, passed away Friday in Portland, Ore. She was 88.

A former member of the Almanac Singers, with Woody Guthrie, Pete Seeger and her husband Butch Hawes, Bess Lomax Hawes was born in Austin on Jan. 21, 1921 and spent her childhood at the family home on West 26th Street. She often accompanied her father and brother Alan on folk song-collecting trips in the south.

Throughout her life, she carried on her father’s work, tirelessly teaching traditional folk music at festivals, schools, and universities. In the ’70s and ’80s, she directed the Folk and Traditional Arts Program for the National Endowment for the Arts.

In 1993, she was awarded the National Medal of Arts by President Clinton.

Hawes attended the University of Texas for two years, but graduated from Bryn Mawr College in Pennsylvania.

She is survived by her three children, Corey Denos of Bellingham, Wash,, Naomi Bishop and Nicholas Hawes of Portland, Ore., and by six grandchildren and two great-grandchildren.

1 Comment »

  1. JACK GARDNER said

    Oh, this makes me so sad. I knew Bess as a folk singer, an Anthropology teacher at UCLA and Cal State Northride, a great instructor for the 5 string banjo, a caring. loving, sensitive woman of unsurpassed brilliance and history. Some of the best friday nights in my life were just relaxing at the old Ash Grove in the ’60’s or McCabe’s when Bess sang and related some of her history. God love you Bess, you will always be so special in the world of folk music. I guess you finally caught that train that never returned. – JSG

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