Beloved improv comedian, filmmaker, devoted husband and Georgia-native Jamie Hawkins-Gaar passed away last Saturday in Safety Harbor, Florida. The 32-year-old was running a half-marathon when he collapsed less than a mile from the finish line. He was transported to Mease Countryside Hospital, where he was pronounced dead. The cause of death has yet to be determined.
In Atlanta, Hawkins-Gaar was notorious for his infectious sense of humor and love of film. His production company, Bland Hack Pictures, which he co-founded with Julian Modugno in 2006, produced comedy shorts which they published online, often featuring other notable comedians and improvisers from the Atlanta area, including Tom Rittenhouse and Eli Banks. The production company even got the attention of Bill O’Reilly for their dramatization of the dangers of texting and driving, as seen in this clip.
After moving to St. Petersburg with his wife, Katie Hawkins-Gaar, in January 2015, Hawkins-Gaar continued his pursuit of competitive improvisation and sketch comedy writing. He worked as a barista at Craft Kafe in St. Petersburg, wrote feature-length scripts, ran and volunteered with Big Brothers, Big Sisters of America.
Hawkins-Gaar went to Loganville High School outside of Atlanta. There, he cultivated deep passions and curiosities for pop culture, cooking and cinema. His zeal carried on through college at Georgia State University, where he had the great fortune of meeting his future wife and discovering his destiny in filmmaking on the same day. Hawkins-Gaar met Katie and Bland Hack Picture’s co-founder, Julian Modugno, at the same scholarship selection event at Georgia State University. He and Katie went on to be married in September 2008 at the Trolley Barn in Atlanta.
Jamie was born to John and Becky Gaar on October 25, 1984, the youngest of three children. He is survived by his parents; his brother, John Gaar, of Aloha, Oregon; his niece and nephew, Dane and Holly Long; and his sister and brother-in-law, Christi and John Long, of Newnan, Georgia. On his wife’s side of the family, he is survived by his mother-in-law, Janet Hawkins, of Decatur, Georgia; and his brother-in-law, Rory Hawkins, of Atlanta.
His funeral will be at 3 p.m. Saturday, February 11, at Columbia Presbyterian Church in Decatur, Georgia. The following day, a celebration of Jamie’s incredible life will be held at Dad’s Garage Theatre Company from 2 to 4 p.m. in Atlanta. The family has requested that in lieu of flowers, please send donations in Jamie’s name to Big Brothers, Big Sisters of America.