August 21, 1942 - September 10, 2022
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“A Life Well Lived”
Gwendolyn Juanita Childred was the first child of John and Gladys Braynon born on August 21, 1942, in Miami, Florida. She attended Douglas Elementary and Dorsey Junior High and completed her high school education at Northwestern Senior High. After high school, Gwen decided to attend Florida A&M University and graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Primary Education in 1965. She later returned to her alma mater to receive her Master of Science in elementary education.
In 1966 she was offered her first teaching position at Poinciana Park Elementary, teaching first grade. She soon met the late Henry G. Hawkins and married in 1968. They were married for 22 years and had two children, Anita Bena and Kennedy Bryant Hawkins. While married to Henry, she was a committed and caring wife, as well as a loving mother. She and Henry had neighborhood events like Halloween parties. In 1990 Henry and Gwen decided to part ways after 22 years of marriage, but they remained friends.
Gwen continued her teaching career at Miami Shores Elementary, teaching 2nd grade. She was also in charge of many Black History plays and musical performances. In 1982, she wanted a change of pace and began working at West Little River Elementary, teaching 6th grade Language Arts. When the Dade County Public School System decided to move 6th graders to junior high in 1983, Gwen bravely decided to follow her students to middle school and teach at Madison Middle, where she taught gifted students. Gwen made Madison Middle School her last stop in education, and after 33 years of educating children, she retired.
In 2003 Gwen and Lonell Children eloped to Las Vegas and had a private ceremony. They moved to Rockledge, Florida, to begin a blissful retired life. While living in Rockledge, she and Lonell joined Mt. Moriah AME, and participated in many church activities and community engagements. They also enjoyed mingling with neighbor friends, having potlucks, playing card games, traveling, and going to the casino. She was often seen with a cute hat or cap, her sneakers, and ripping and running in the “Streets of Rockledge.” After her beloved Lonell passed away, Gwen stayed closer to home and enjoyed life at a slower pace.
In 2021 Gwen was diagnosed with metastatic breast cancer. Even in her last days, she refused to allow the pain to keep her down. She would often say out loud, “The Joy of the Lord is my Strength.” Our dear mother transitioned to Glory on Saturday, September 10, 2022. She lived, loved, and laughed, and we are so fortunate that God chose her for us.
Gwen leaves to cherish her memories, her daughter Anita Gordon (Michael), her son Kennedy Hawkins (Nakia), her step-daughter, Adriane Hawkins; her granddaughters Kenetra Stewart( Marquise), Tahtiana Johnson, Ashanti Johnson, and Nadezhda Thornton; her grandsons, Gunnar Aardappel, and Elias Aardappel, Jerome Funderburk, Jr., Jeremy Funderburk (Lauren), and 12 great grandchildren, her brother John Braynon, her sister Pamela Braynon, and a host of other relatives and friends. Her parents and her brother Michael Braynon predeceased her.