Richard J. Hopkins of Helena, Montana passed away peacefully into God’s presence on February 1st, 2019. He was surrounded by family and friends after extended illness from polio disease.
Richard was born on July 5, 1944 to James and Evangeline Hopkins in Great Falls, Montana. At the age of 7, Rich contracted polio while in Lewistown, Montana in the fall of 1951 resulting in intermittent schooling in the second and third grades. The disease necessitated three surgeries including a back surgery with rods and fusion in 1962.
He graduated from Cathedral High School in Duluth, Minnesota in 1962. He earned a major in Biology and minor in Chemistry from Carroll College in 1967. He graduated from the Medical College of Wisconsin in 1971.
He enjoyed his rotating internship at St Mary’s Hospital in Duluth, Minnesota where he met a young nurse, Marie Clark, in the fall of 1971. They were then married in June of 1972. Later that year, the couple moved to Seattle, Washington for a brief Pathology residency at the University of Washington. The couple then moved to Cleveland, Ohio for Rich’s Ophthalmology residency at St Luke’s Hospital that concluded in 1975. During this time, Rich also enjoyed taking a Basics Science course at Stanford University in the summer of 1973.
In 1976, Richard began his practice in Helena with a brief three-month Retinal fellowship in Cleveland, Ohio in 1978. He became Board certified in Ophthalmology in 1979 with later entry as a Fellow of the American College of Surgeons (FACS). He retired from practice in 2006 from Helena Eye Clinic.
As a teenager, he became interested in electronics which led to amateur radio equipment which he enjoyed both building and transmitting afar. He was also a patron of both visual and live arts in Montana. He had a special affinity for improvisational jazz music which he passed on by coordinating multiple local jazz events. He enjoyed collecting art and taking photographs with his Leica range finder of friendly strangers, family and friends.
Rich regarded his wife, Marie, as “the finest person he ever knew” due to her patience, kindness and grace. He also felt fortunate to have such attentive and loving parents whose care inspired him through his childhood disease. He was supported by his daughter, Karen Rowe, and son-in-law, Kenton Rowe, following the death of Marie in 2013. He felt fortunate to live in an extended household with the joys of watching his grandchildren grow. He was a champion in supporting his grandchildren in their pursuits of music.
He was quite the fighter, surviving polio as a child which resulted in using crutches for the remainder of his life, battling challenges of bipolar disorder and several near-death bouts of pneumonia in recent years.
Survivors include his son, Michael (Ekutsar) Hopkins, granddaughters, Tabetha and Emily Hopkins, daughter, Karen (Kenton) Rowe, grandson, Auston Rowe, granddaughter, Andreanna Rowe. He is survived by his sister, Diane (Paul) Hamper, brother, David (Debi) Hopkins, and brother, Pat (Sharon) Hopkins. Other survivors included many nieces, nephews and loving friends.
Richard was preceded in death by his wife, Marie Hopkins, brother, Paul Hopkins, parents, James Hopkins and Evangeline Hopkins, grandparents, Arthur and Florentine Hopkins and Charles and Evangeline Hedges.
A Celebration of Rich’s Life will be 11:00 a.m., Tuesday, February 12th at The Myrna Loy, 15 N. Ewing Street, Helena. A reception will follow the service in the Myrna Loy gallery. Please visit below to offer a condolence to the family or to share a memory of Rich.
In lieu of flowers, Rich and his family request memorials be made in his memory to Doctors without Borders, Helena Food Share, or The Myrna Loy.
The family wishes to thank St Peter’s Health and our loving friends and family. We are truly blessed to live in this community.