Class of 2018
Gertrude (Jones) Hawk was born in 1903 to Gomer and Ellen Jones, of Scranton, PA. Her father died when he was only 42 and her mother suffered from a heart condition leaving Gertrude to support the family. At the age of 12, she left school and went to work dipping chocolate in a local candy shop, this is where she learned the art of chocolate making.
In 1922, Gertrude married Elmer C. Hawk, a car salesman, and together they had two sons, Elmer R. and Richard.
Wanting to earn extra money for the family at the height of the depression, Gertrude and Elmer founded Gertrude Hawk Chocolates in 1936 in the kitchen of the family’s small home in the Bunker Hill section of Scranton. The couple began selling chocolates from their home and providing chocolates for local church fundraisers. During holiday seasons their dining room table was replaced with a counter set up for making and packaging chocolate.
When Gertrude’s son Elmer returned home from World War II, he became a business partner with his parents, using the pay he received from his time in the service to invest in machinery and equipment.
After Elmer married, his wife Louise became involved in the business as well. This allowed Gertrude to focus on establishing and promoting the fundraising side of the company. At a time when there was no way of setting up a self-sustaining retail outlet, Gertrude’s fundraising partnerships proved to be very effective in getting the business’s name and product out into the community.
The company continued to thrive, however, in 1959 the family was notified that the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation would be taking the family home, which still housed the business, for the construction of Interstate 81.
The company purchased a piece of land on Drinker Street in Dunmore, PA, less than three miles from its former headquarters and established a new factory.
The facility, which included a retail store and a restaurant, began producing products in 1962. Never wanting to be separated from the business, Gertrude and Elmer lived out the rest of their lives in an apartment built on top of the factory.
Gertrude passed away in 1987, but her fundraising initiatives remain a major part of the business and represent one of the four divisions of the company. Today, there are more than 60 Gertrude Hawk Chocolates retail store locations across Pennsylvania, New York and New Jersey and a growing e-commerce website also bears the Gertrude Hawk name.