Cover photo for MELBA FERN HAWTHORNE's Obituary
1939 MELBA 2024


August 5, 1939 — March 14, 2024

Melba Fern Hawthorne gracefully completed her earthly journey and embarked on her eternal homecoming in the morning hours of March 14, 2024. Though her physical presence may no longer grace our lives, the indelible imprint of her caring spirit, radiant smile, witty humor and infectious laughter will endure in our hearts forever.

Melba, born on August 5, 1939, in Pass Christian, MS, was the cherished firstborn child of the late Tempie Arnold Malley and Oliver Adams. On July 17, 1960, Melba was joined in Holy Matrimony to Raymond Hawthorne in Gulfport, MS where she fearfully embraced her role as a devoted wife and nurturing mother to her four beloved children: Herman M. Simmons III, Reginald L. Hawthorne, Rhonda L. Hawthorne, and Wayne E. Hawthorne.

Melba began her illustrious career spanning over four decades as a floral designer first at Cardinal Flower Shop and later at Walker’s Florist. Melba's unparalleled talent in floral design transcended her professional endeavors and permeated every facet of her life. She enjoyed creating countless floral arrangements for weddings and churches, and her creative flair extended to the church's decorating committee.

A stalwart pillar of her community, Melba served as a faithful, long-time member of Mercy Seat Missionary Baptist Church. She participated ardently in various ministries, including the Education Ministry, the Women’s Intermediate Auxiliary (WIA), the Senior Women’s Mission Ministry, and was especially dedicated to the Usher Board Ministry and City-Wide Ushers Union. Her devout attendance at Sunday school, prayer meetings, and bible study reflected her unwavering commitment to her spiritual journey. Melba was also a dedicated Senior Matron of the Heroines of Jericho.

Melba’s final three years were spent in Midlothian, Texas, where she attended Community Missionary Baptist Church and made a lasting impression on everyone she encountered. She was the life of the party and loved to dance; anyone who knew her, knew when it came to her attire and hair, she would always ask, “does this look okay?!”

Melba now reunites with cherished loved ones who preceded her in death, including her beloved husband, Raymond Hawthorne, her mother, Tempie Arnold Malley, her sister, Christian "Bootsie” Davis, her brother, Earl “Sonny” McClaine, and her firstborn son, Herman M. Simmons III (“Rookie”).

Left to cherish her memory are her children, Reginald Hawthorne, Rhonda Hawthorne, and Wayne Hawthorne (Shana); daughter-in-law, Damaris Simmons (Herman); her grandchildren, Herman Matthew Simmons IV (Ebony), Bethany Simmons, Gabrielle Hawthorne, Julian Simmons (Cierra), Nicholas Hawthorne, Kelli Blair Hawthorne, Justin Hawthorne, and Raeven Hawthorne-Whitfield; a special nephew, Courtney Jones; one aunt, Gloria Bailey; two uncles, Raymond Arnold and Louis Arnold; a host of great-grandchildren, nieces, and nephews; and special and loyal friends, Kay Redmond, Ann Branch, Elizabeth Amos, and Mary Dedeaux.

Melba also leaves behind to cherish her memory her beloved, loyal friend and travel companion, Deacon Bill Robinson, affectionately known as Mr. Bill, and his extended family.

Melba Hawthorne's legacy of love, faith, and creativity will forever inspire those whose lives she touched. Though Melba has bid farewell to this earthly realm, her spirit remains eternally vibrant in the hearts of all who had the privilege of knowing her.

To order memorial trees or send flowers to the family in memory of MELBA FERN HAWTHORNE, please visit our flower store.

Service Schedule

Past Services


Saturday, March 30, 2024

10:00 - 11:00 am (Central time)

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Saturday, March 30, 2024

Starts at 11:00 am (Central time)

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Saturday, March 30, 2024


, Gulfport, MS

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