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Gospel singer Walter Hawkins dies at 61

Grammy winner and pastor was battling pancreatic cancer

RIPON, Calif. –- Walter Hawkins, a Grammy Award-winning gospel singer, composer and pastor from Oakland, died Sunday. He was 61.

Hawkins, who was battling pancreatic cancer, passed away at his home in Ripon, Calif., his older brother Edwin Hawkins said.

“Today, I lost my brother, my pastor, and my best friend,” said Edwin Hawkins. “Bishop Hawkins suffered bravely but now he will suffer no more and he will be greatly missed.”

Born in Oakland, Hawkins studied for his divinity degree at the University of California, Berkeley.

While at the university, he recorded his first album titled “Do Your Best” in 1972.

The next year, Hawkins became a pastor and founded the Love Center Church in Oakland, where he also formed a choir.

In the 1980s, Hawkins recorded a number of albums and earned nine Grammy Award nominations, according to friend and family representative, Bill Carpenter.

His “The Lord’s Prayer” won a Grammy in 1980 and he also performed on the televised Grammy Awards ceremony that year.

In 1990, Hawkins released “Love Alive III” which spent 34 weeks at the top on the Billboard gospel album sales chart, while going on to sell more than a million copies, according to Carpenter.

In 1993 his next album, “Love Alive IV,” also hit the top spot on the album sales chart. Between work on the two albums, Hawkins was ordained a bishop in October 1992.

At the time of his death, Hawkins was planning a new “Love Alive” CD concert recording for this fall.

Besides his brother Walter, Hawkins is survived by two children, two grandchildren and a number of nieces and nephews.

Funeral arrangements were pending.

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