For the past few months, we have have posted several blogs under the Petaluma History category, using theme headings like the “Petalumans of Yesteryear,” the “Sages of Petaluma,” and “Then & Now.” We have also given credit to the Petaluma Historical Museum & Research Library for the source of most of our background information. Since the Research Library is officially known as the “Hoppy Hopkins Research Library,” it is appropriate for a blog to be dedicated to his past life.
Elbert H. Hopkins died at age 82 on August 18, 2003. Everyone called him “Hoppy” and newspaper articles referred to him as both the “unofficial” and the “Petaluma City Historian.” He went to school and grew up in Petaluma, and over the years developed a tremendous memory bank of historic information about our river town and its people. Before he joined the Navy in 1942, Hoppy was employed as an apprentice at Mare Island Naval Shipyard. After serving in the South Pacific as a Seabee, he returned to Petaluma and went back to work at Mare Island as an engineering technician for 37 years.
Hoppy’s community activities involed being a charter member of the Petaluma Museum Association in 1972, editor of the Petaluma Historical Society’s newsletter, a member of SPARC (Site Planning and Review Committee), Friend of the Library, Heritage Homes, and the Yosemite National History Association. He was a good friend of Ed Mannion and Ed Fratini; both earlier Petaluma Historians. Many Petalumans will remember Hoppy’s annual Halloween cemetery walks, where he visited the grave sites of early Petalumans. Such a historical walk will be organized this year by Marshall West (aka Isaac Wickersham, one of the Petalumans of Yesteryear.
A year after his death, a trust established by Hoppy gave the Petaluma Regional Library a gift of $669,505.84, in memory of his wife, Leoleon, who was a Petaluma librarian for 30 years. The History Room of the Petaluma Regional Library is open to the public on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 1:00-4:00 p.m., and Wednesdays from 5:30-7:45 p.m.
Stay tuned for a future blog that will provide more information about the Cemetery Walk planned for October 4, 2014.