Sunday, February 15, 2009

Loss of a dear friend and brother

Yesterday we attended the memorial service for Donald Keith Hopper, a dear friend and one of the older members of our church. It was the first such service that I had the honor attending since my father's service 16 month ago.

I say "honor" because Don was one of the pillars of our small congregation. His focus was always to serve God and to mold his life -- and the life of the church -- after the pattern set in the Bible.

The service was a hard one for me. As I mentioned it was my first since my father's passing on October 12, 2007. But also because Don, in many ways, reminded me of Dad.

As the service progressed, I felt for Dick, sitting in the front row of pews. Dick, like myself, is Don's the oldest child.

And like my father, Don was a veteran of the U.S. Navy. I held it together until the honor guard slowly marched up both aisles, folded the ensign of the United States of America and presented it to Mrs. Doris Hopper.

Don Alexander, former evangelist of the Pollock Pines-Camino church of Christ, gave the obituary at his service yesterday:

In sadness we report the passing away of brother Don Hopper of the Pollock Pines-Camino, California church of Christ, on February 9, 2009, after a brief illness.

Known to many endearingly as "Hop," he was 80 years old. He is survived by his brother Dennis, sister Waythena Peters, wife Doris, two children, Dick Hopper of Tulsa, Oklahoma, and Melody Dickey of Folsom, California; six grandkids and six great-grandkids.

He served his country for four years in the U.S. Navy in the Korean War. He worked for 35 years for PG&E before retiring in 1988. He was born in Strang, Oklahoma. He and Doris lived in various places from San Diego, Oklahoma, Marin County, California; Napa and Fresno, California, before moving to Camino, Calif. upon retirement.

Of greatest interest to brother Hopper was his spiritual life. He obeyed His Lord in baptism in 1951, later served as a deacon in the Fresno area, and we all rejoiced to see him appointed as a elder for the Pollock Pines-Camino church of Christ which he served for several years.

I was especially encouraged by brother Hopper during the eleven years I worked with the congregation in Pollock Pines-Camino. His foremost spiritual quality was his desire to serve the Lord and His people by doing what was right. The principles of God's Word formed his approach to living and his legacy is seen in his family, his brethren's love, and his quiet strength.

Like so many of God's people, his quiet strength was the glue that holds together the faithful when times are tough. He was a stand-up Christian who struggled with the challenges of the sinful world while keeping his sights clearly on serving God "right, by the Bible."

He will be greatly missed and his death will not escape the notice of His Heavenly Father.

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