For decades, Evelyn Hawkins Hood influenced generations of Atlanta children as a teacher, activist, scholarship fundraiser and a regional and national officer of note in one of the “Divine Nine” sororities.
“She was so generous,” said Ann Broughton, Hood’s goddaughter. The two met at West Mitchell Street Christian Methodist Episcopal Church, where Hood taught Sunday school, directed vacation Bible school and served as the director of Christian education. “She became a sorority member because the chapter was working with children and with community service activities, and she wanted to be involved.”
For 42 years, she introduced children to books, reading and math in her second-grade classroom at C.W. Hill Elementary School in Atlanta. As a leading officer in the Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority she helped raise more than $600,000 in scholarships for deserving high school students.
After joining the sorority in 1950, Hood rose through the ranks of Sigma Gamma Rho to become chapter president, serving in different capacities on the local, regional and national levels. She spent 1974-1980 leading the organization as the 14th International Grand Basileus of Sigma Gamma Rho. She stayed involved until the end of her life, members said. The sorority has 500 chapters across the country and five in metro Atlanta. As Grand Basileus, she generated a stable cash flow for Sigma Gamma Rho and sustainable donations to the NCCAP and the United Negro College Fund.
Hood, 99, died April 6. A service will be held at West Mitchell St. CME Church, 560 Martin Luther King Jr. Dr., Atlanta on Friday, April 21, at 11 a.m.
“She was the epitome of class,” said Keisha Simmons, a past president of the Iota Zeta Sigma Chapter of Sigma Gamma Rho. “Here’s this woman who was our former international president, and she was so approachable. She took an interest in younger members, she would guide them into leadership.”
Born in Bibb County, Evelyn Hawkins Hood was one of the two children of Oran and Anne Spivey Hawkins. After finishing high school in Macon, she attended Paine College in Augusta and then moved to Atlanta, where she continued her studies at Atlanta University. She married Griffin native and fellow educator LoVette Hood and gained a large family of in-laws, nieces and nephews, many of whom lived with the Hoods while attending college in Atlanta.
“My mother always said Aunt Evelyn took her son, because she practically raised me as a young adult,” said M. Gerald Hood, who attended Clark University, now Clark Atlanta University, while living with his uncle and aunt. He later became an OB-GYN. “She fit right into the family, she was a very good cook. We were always having family picnics and get togethers. She loved cooking collard greens.”
In addition to her sorority, school and church activities, Hood found time to volunteer with the Martin Luther King, Jr. Center and the YWCA of Greater Atlanta. During the civil rights movement, she didn’t march with King, “because I couldn’t be all the way non-violent,” she once said. “I could not be beaten and not retaliate.”
Hood received numerous proclamations of appreciation from both the City of Atlanta and Fulton County. Her portrait hangs on the Wall of Fame in Mary Mac’s Tea Room, one of her favorite restaurants.
In addition to her nephew Gerald Hood, Evelyn Hawkins Hood is survived by nieces Traci Hawkins Dumas and Hope Hawkins, and numerous grand nieces and nephews and cousins.