Our beloved father, James Francis Hopper, age 94, passed away and entered into eternal life with the Lord on October 30, 2022 with his children and their husbands by his side. Jim was born in Orange, New Jersey September 7, 1928. He was the son of Irish immigrants, the late James J Hopper of County Sligo and Lillian McGrath, County Roscommon.
Jim grew up in Beacon, New York and at 6'5", was an ace record setting basketball player at Beacon High School. Jim attended Rider College in Lawrenceville, NJ on a basketball scholarship. He also spent time playing semi-pro basketball for several years.
Jim was drafted into the Army during the Korean War as a Combat Medic in the 279th Infantry Regiment, which was part of the famous "Thunderbirds" 45th Infantry Division. He saw combat on the front line from October 1950 until his separation in June 1952. During his service, he received the Korean Service Medal with Bronze Service Star, the UN Korean Service Medal, the Rep. of Korea War Service Medal, the Korean Defense Medal, the National Defense Service Medal, and the Army Occupation Medal (for service in Japan). He also earned the Combat Medic Badge and attained the rank of Corporal when he was discharged in 1952. In June 2019, he took part in The Villages (Flightless) Honor Flight Mission 46.
Jim married the late Claudia Smith of Cold Spring, NY in May, 1955. They have 2 daughters in The Villages, who survive them. Melissa Haplea (Gene), and Priscilla Barker (Jerome). Five grandchildren, Justin Barker (Jessica), Trent Barker (Rachel), of Ohio, and Megan Newman (Kenny), Kevin Haplea, and Gretchen Cook (Jay) of New Jersey. Jim also leaves behind his brother John Hopper, sisters, Betty Hopper, and Patricia Burke of Beacon, New York, 6 great-grand children, Stella, Summer, Stetson, Jaxson, Blair and Kyler, 12 nieces and nephews. He was pre-deceased by his brother Thomas Hopper, and sisters, Mary Hopper and Anne Champlin.
Jim worked for Texaco Oil Company before retiring in 1986. Jim and Claudia moved to The Villages in 2003 from Glen Burnie, Md. and lived a very active and wonderful life. Jim was one of the original members of the Mulberry Water Aerobics group for over 17 years. He had many great friends in the group who just adored him. Jim, like his two brothers, was an avid golfer for many years. In The Villages he often shot under his age and won many tournaments.
Jim will be greatly missed for his genuine kindness and love of family. He was a wonderful father and husband. We will always feel so very fortunate we had him in our lives.
Please join us for a Celebration of Life on Tuesday, January 17, 2023 at 11 am, at Hiers-Baxley Funeral Home on Wedgwood Lane in The Villages. There will be an informal repast at Hiers-Baxley afterwards. Interment will be held at Florida National Cemetary, Bushnell, Florida, at 2:30pm for family and friends, leaving directly from the repast.
In lieu of flowers, and in recognition of Jim's very memorable experience in 2019, all donations are requested to be made to The Villages Honor Flight at: Villages Honor Flight, Inc., PO Box 490, Lady Lake, FL 32158-0490. Alternatively, the Honor Flight's PayPal portal may also be used: https://form.jotform.com/220705281106142