Editor's Note: "Louisiana Literature" highlights recently published books from area authors.
"It's Been Wondrous!" by Julia Welles Hawkins, CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, $28, 220 pages, paperback
Longtime Baton Rouge resident Julia Welles Hawkins, who turns 102 on Feb. 10, has released her life story, "It's Been Wondrous! The Memoirs of Julia Welles Hawkins."
Hawkins lives in University Acres in a house her husband, the late LSU professor Murray F. Hawkins, built in 1949. They were married for 70 years.
Last summer, at age 101, Hawkins set a world record in the 100-yard dash at the National Track and Field Masters meet at LSU. Her accomplishments in the Senior Olympics, first in cycling and then in running, have brought her widespread publicity. In addition to The Advocate, she been featured in four stories in Sports Illustrated and Runners World magazine, and has gotten coverage on national TV, in the Washington Post and other outlets.
In March, Hawkins is scheduled to compete in the USTAF national indoor meet in Washington, D.C. She says she doesn't practice often.
“At my age, you only have so many 100-yard dashes left in you, so you have to save them up,” she said.
"Hawkins' life story begins with a boat trip downriver from Chicago to Louisiana as the Welles family relocated to Ponchatoula. It's also a love story that spans seven decades, beginning on Julia's first day at LSU when she met her husband and lasting through their 70th wedding anniversary," a news release says. "It is a tale of struggles during World War II while her brother was in a German concentration camp and her fiancé at Pearl Harbor when it was bombed. The couple married by telephone, with the bride in Ponchatoula and the groom in Pearl Harbor. They were not reunited for two years.
"And finally, it is a family story of four children raised in a counter-culture environment that included a plethora of pets, outdoor adventures, reading aloud, family games and a focus on creativity. It is the story of a woman who has inspired hundreds with her flower arranging, gardening, bonsai trees and focus on physical fitness."
The book, edited by her daughter Margaret Hawkins Matens, contains more than 400 color photographs to complement the narrative.