John D. Hawke, Jr., 28th U.S. Comptroller of the Currency
John Daniel Hawke, Jr., son of Olga Buchbinder and John Daniel Hawke of Rockville Center, New York, died at his home in Washington, DC on January 3, 2022, at the age of 88 surrounded by family.
An accomplished lawyer who served in all three branches of the United States government, Hawke was once called “the senior lawyer of American banks” by the New York Times.
Known to almost everyone as Jerry, he was a loving father and grandfather, devoted husband and brother, loyal partner and friend, confident cook, and handsome writer. His dry wit, quick wit, and moral standard were evident in everything he did.
Hawke was born in New York City on June 26, 1933 and raised in Rockville Center, where he attended South Side High School. As a child, he accompanied his father, a civic leader, on his tours as an air raid guard. A child of the Depression and World War II, he still enjoyed an enchanted childhood, proud to become an Eagle Scout and a summer camp bugle.
Hawke graduated from Yale University, where he majored in English. A member of Elihu, one of the university’s oldest societies, he has bonded for life to friends he made there and to their wives.
After college, he joined the US Air Force at Eglin Field, Florida as a second lieutenant and worked as an information officer. He and his colleague Hunter S. Thompson spoke of becoming writers and debated literature. Years later, Thompson would call him collect in the middle of the night to ask if he still considered The Great Gatsby to be America’s greatest novel. Hawke considered becoming a teacher and flirted with an offer to read English at Oxford, but chose a different path, which he sometimes regretted.
The top law graduate, he served as editor of the Columbia Law Review and legal assistant to Judge E. Barrett Prettyman of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit.
In the early 1960s, Hawke worked as legal advisor to the House of Representatives’ small education subcommittee. As he left on a trip to San Francisco in 1961 for field hearings on the arts, staff from Congressman Jack Shelley’s office asked him to deliver a box of sugar cookies from the cafeteria to Longworth House Office Building to their colleague Josephine Marie Reddan. He did, and he fell in love at first sight. They were married on June 15, 1962, had four children and had a wonderful life together until her death in 1991.
Hawke practiced law at Arnold & Porter for almost 60 years, including stints in government. He established the Company’s financial institutions practice and was President of the Company from 1987 to 1995. Previously, Hawke was Legal Counsel to the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve from 1975 to 1978 under the direction of President Arthur Burns.
In the early 1980s his practice of law took off, attracting many of the nation’s largest banks and financial institutions to his clients and placing Hawke at the center of some of the industry’s most important issues. In 1985, Hawke argued the Federal Reserve Board of Governors v Dimension Financial Corporation case in the United States Supreme Court and won an 8-0 victory. He is the author of a treatise on banking regulation and was appointed to a special group to study the role of the futures market in the stock market crash of 1987. Mentor of a generation of promising banking lawyers within the law firm, he also taught banking law at Georgetown Law School and at the Boston University School of Law, where he was chairman of the board of directors of the Morin Center for Banking Law Studies.
These experiences prepared Hawke for two major presidential appointments at the peak of his career. President Clinton appointed him Undersecretary of the Treasury for Home Finance in 1995. He oversaw financial policy and legislation, with frequent trips to the Hill to testify, worked on the ceiling showdown. debt with Congress in 1996 and helped roll out the new bill. A moment to remember was maintaining the fort when the historic Treasury building caught fire in the summer of 1996 while Secretary Robert Rubin was on a business trip overseas. When Hawke called the secretary to let him know about the fire, he said, “Bob, I have good news and bad news. The bad news is that the building is on fire. The good news is, it wasn’t the British. “
In 2001, the Department awarded him its highest honor, the Alexander Hamilton Prize.
Hawke was the country’s 28th Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) from 1998 to 2004, where he administered a network of more than 2,000 national banks, comprising more than half of the assets of the commercial banking system. He was a director of the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC), the Federal Financial Institutions Examination Council and the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision.
Upon leaving the OCC, Hawke returned to Arnold & Porter, remaining active until his 80s. In April 2021, Hawke stepped down from the board of directors of M&T Bank, where he was a director for nine years and chairman of the bank’s risk committee.
And yet, Hawke has enjoyed a deeply meaningful life outside of his job. He loved opera, Italian Renaissance painting, photography, writing poetry, collecting Mata Ortiz pottery, summers in Vineyard Haven, Massachusetts with his children, chatting with a circle of friends around an early morning coffee and travel the world.
He was an avid fisherman who trawled the waters off Martha’s Vineyard and lit his aluminum smoker whenever he had enough blues. He brined them in a top-secret ingredient list and won an annual Blue Ribbon for his Smoked Blue Fish at the MV Agricultural Show.
A Washington opera enthusiast, he enjoyed hosting Lawyers Committee dinners, where he wrote and hosted legal-themed parodies with Supreme Court justices playing the game. Hawke is survived by his four children, Daniel of Cabin John, Maryland, Caitlin of New York City, Anne of Washington, DC and Patrick of Baltimore, as well as his stepdaughter Jessica Blake Hawke, his son-in-law John Kada, three grandchildren, Spencer, Camerynn and Clare, his Twin siblings Roger Hawke of New York and his sister Mary Todebush of Cutchogue, New York, and his longtime partner Beverly Baker of Washington, DC
A private funeral will be held at Martha’s Vineyard at Oak Grove Cemetery in Vineyard Haven, and the family plan to hold a memorial service later this year. Gifts in his memory can be made at Island Food Pantry on Martha’s Vineyard (www.igimv.org/donate).

Posted by Chapman Funerals & Cremations – Falmouth on January 6, 2022.