Carter Moelk
KU Statehouse Wire Service
The role of a legislator’s spouse is not visible on front lines of the political process, but it’s often family members who help make the legislature run.
Diane Hawk, Kansas State University (KSU) instructor, is the wife and best friend of Democratic Sen. Tom Hawk of Manhattan.
“Even before we were married, we were best friends for 40 years,” Diane said.
Hawk works in KSU’s College of Education teaching courses in curriculum and instruction. Both Hawk and her husband worked as educators, and both were involved in numerous educational projects over the years.
“We wrote a Department of Education grant together,” Hawk said. “We both were interested in staff and curriculum development.”
The couple has been married for two-and-a-half years now, but they have shared similar beliefs and experiences throughout their lives. After the deaths of their first spouses, the two helped each other cope with the grief.
“It had been seven years since my husband had passed when Tom called me to help him through the recent passing of his wife,” Hawk said. “He’d take me to political events, and knowing his political beliefs, we were very compatible.”
This compatibility and understanding is what aids Hawk in supporting her husband through his endeavors.
“He has such a passion to be involved in politics,” Hawk said. “I know he wouldn’t be happy if he wasn’t trying to make a difference.”
Hawk said she and her husband enjoy working together.
“During the first campaign I was a part of, we really enjoyed going door-to- door, and I liked having a part in it all,” Diane said.
But the life of a legislator’s spouse can be sometimes difficult. Time can get split between home life and the legislature, and meeting the needs of constituents can be consuming.
“The demand of the public can be somewhat frustrating for me,” Hawk said. “Trying to meet the needs of every single person is impossible…. Sometimes we’ll have constituents call or show up at our door at like 10 or 11 o’clock at night.”
While dealing with constituents can be challenging, Hawk loves that her husband is up for the job.
“If he didn’t say no, he’d be doing everything and going everywhere,” Hawk said. “But he is a passionate man and wants to help the people.”
And, she said, he is a family man.
“His core value of family is what really attracted me to him,” Diane said. “He always says to me, ‘The best things in life aren’t things.’”
Hawk plans to retire from KSU this spring, and she’s excited to campaign again with her husband, who plans to run for reelection this fall
“He’s never going to stop,” Hawk said. “I tell him it’s in his blood…. It’s just who he is.”
Whatever this next election season holds, or what life throws at the couple, Hawk says she’s committed to helping and supporting the senator through it all.
“As Tom said to me the day he proposed to me, ‘Every day will be an adventure,’” Hawk said.
Edited by Maddy Mikinski