Cover photo for Richard "Dick" Hopkins's Obituary
Richard "Dick" Hopkins Profile Photo
1930 Richard 2021

Richard "Dick" Hopkins

June 24, 1930 — September 6, 2021

Hopkins, Richard B. (Dick)

Dick Hopkins, 91, of Winona, passed away on September 6, 2021.

He was born on June 24, 1930 in Flint, Michigan to Leo B. and Marie Hopkins. He is survived by his wife of 67 years, Marian Hopkins, his son Barry (Lisa) Hopkins of Manitowish Waters, Wisconsin and his daughter Jenny Hopkins of Minneapolis and Winona.

After graduating from Grand Blanc High School (Michigan) in 1948, he attended Flint Junior College, then transferred to Michigan State Normal College (now Eastern Michigan University) in Ypsilanti, Michigan where he completed a Bachelor of Science degree. He later completed a master's degree in geography and worked toward a Ph.D. (all but dissertation) at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. To support himself throughout his schooling, he worked at various factories in the Flint auto industry. He married Marian Opel (Hopkins) in Fraser, Michigan in 1954. In 1957, he came to Winona to take a teaching job at Winona State Teachers College (now Winona State University) where he taught business education and geography until 1987.

Dick Hopkins was an inventor, a river explorer, a tinkerer, a builder, and a bit of a frontiersman. He was an expert on "green energy" before that concept became popular. In the 1970s, he built a wood-burning furnace to heat his house (the house he built by himself), cut the wood for that furnace with a wood splitter that he designed and constructed, and heated water for the house with a system of solar panels and electrical storage units. He grew a huge garden and required all family members to help grow, harvest, and preserve the vegetables, even though that wasn't everybody's thing.

He made two solo river trips down the Mackenzie River in the Northwest Territories of Canada, a solo river trip on the Minnesota River, and numerous solo river trips along portions of the upper Mississippi. He liked camping, fishing, hunting, and spending time in nature. He loved to travel to Alaska and northern Canada or to any place that was hundreds of miles away from the nearest town. His favorite place was his home and property just outside of Winona - the city he loved.

He was a legendary storyteller who could make the most mundane experiences seem interesting and entertaining by embellishing them with details that may or may not have happened. Most people got to hear the same story numerous times, yet each retelling became more elaborate, until those who were present at the original incident couldn't recognize the event.

Dick loved raising golden retrievers, reading non-fiction books, and listening to or playing music. A lifelong musician, he could pick up any instrument (trumpet, trombone, clarinet, flute, harmonica, guitar, mandolin, or electric keyboard) and make it sound like he had been playing it for years. He started playing the guitar at age 5 and continued with his music studies until age 91. In the late 1950s and 1960s, he played guitar in dance bands at the Oaks and other locations around Winona. More recently, he resorted to studying sheet music and playing the songs in his head after it became too hard for his fingers to move across the keyboard.

Although he was a bit of a loner in his later years, he was a sensitive man who cared deeply about his fellow humans and could easily start weeping while watching world tragedies on the evening news.

A private family ceremony will honor Dick's amazing life. In lieu of flowers, please send donations in his memory to the Manitowish Waters Music in the Park festival or the Manitowish Waters Fire Company. Donations can be mailed to PO Box 165, Manitowish Waters, WI 54545. Online condolences or memories can be left at Hoff.

Hoff Celebration of Life Center - Goodview is assisting the family with arrangements. The family kindly asks that in lieu of flowers, donations be sent to the designated memorials above.


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