Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Bill Hopkins: His Death Reminds of His Importance to Us

Bill Hopkins' death at the age of 90 yesterday, leaves the world with one fewer man of major and varied accomplishment, a man of the people who made lives better.

William B. Hopkins was a highly-effective legislator, two-war gladiator, great conversationalist, respected lawyer (Martin, Hopkins & Lemon) and a man who cared about people--all of them.

He fought in World War II (finishing early at Washington & Lee so he could join the Marines), then was back at it in Korea. He wrote books about both adventures: One Bugle, No Drums about fighting a savage battle at the Chosin Reservoir in Korea and The Pacific War about WWII.

Among his towering legislative accomplishments--as part of the last positively effective group of legislators from this region--was help in building Center in the Square, in which the planetarium is named in his honor. Hopkins teamed with other significant legislative figures of the time to bring considerable state money to our region. He worked with Dick Cranwell, Vic Thomas, Chip Woodrum and several others (including some moderate Republicans) to make the voice of this region loud and respected. Since their retirements, that voice has been all but silent. He was a founding member of Center int he Square and former president of the Roanoke Bar Association.

Here's what Chip had to say about Bill, a former Majority Leader in the Senate, on Facebook this morning: "I cannot express my sense of loss. Bill Hopkins was a man who believed in giving of himself to his community, his state and his nation. He fought in two wars, had an outstanding legal career, served his state and Roanoke as a State Senator for 20 years and when that service ended, moved seamlessly into service to his community. When you pass Carilion Hospital, remember that it was he who forged its orginal links with UVa Hospital. When you see a revitalized downtown, remember he was one of those who got Center in the Square off the ground. He authored two books (on Korea and on WWII). Bill Hopkins was a true reanaissance man. His presence made us better; his loss diminishes us."

(*I apologize for not having taken a good photo of Bill over the past several years. I just never thought he'd die and that I'd need one for that.)

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