Cover photo for Richard Hopper's Obituary
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1928 Richard 2018

Richard Hopper

October 7, 1928 — March 11, 2018

Services for Richard Stephen “Dick” Hopper, 89, who worked more than three decades for the Indianapolis Star and managed property near both Plainfield and Spencer, Indiana, will be at Hampton-Gentry Funeral Home, 106 Shaw St, Plainfield, Indiana. A calling will begin at 3:00 p.m. Sunday, March 18th, followed by a service at 5:00 p.m. Simple graveside services will be held at 11:00 a.m. Wednesday, March 21st, at Riverside Cemetery, Spencer, Indiana, and all are welcome.    Dick was known as a storyteller to everyone he knew at the Indianapolis Star, in the farming communities of Hendricks and Owen counties, in his hometown of Spencer, and in Plainfield where he managed rentals with Marylyn (Sproatt) “Lynn” Hopper, his wife of sixty-two years. He’d volunteer to almost anyone a Civil War story, an anecdote about his Black Angus cattle, nuggets of local history and colorful characters he’d heard about, along with other bits of interesting information on seemingly any subject. He enjoyed hearing other people’s stories, too, and learning where they were from to discover common ground.    “I was born a year before the stock market crash,” he often pointed out, and reflected that the Depression seemed more or less normal to him as a kid—it was all he’d ever known, living with his grandparents while his mother, Lois, worked multiple jobs in Spencer to support Dick and his older sister, Ione (Hopper) Kinney. His father, Joseph, was killed in an auto accident in 1934.   During high school Dick apprenticed as a printer’s devil in Spencer. After graduation, he began attending Indiana University, Bloomington, part time, then enlisted in the Navy. Following his discharge in 1953, he attended Linotype school in Toledo, Ohio. He got a job at IU Press and worked part time for the Bloomington Herald-Telephone, attending Indiana University part time all the while, graduating in 1955. He also ran Linotype for the Indianapolis Star, and everywhere he worked he was known for his speed and accuracy. In the late fifties he attended Butler University, earned a Teacher’s License, and taught one year in Plainfield schools. He went to work on the copy desk at the Indianapolis Star after that, and through the years held several positions at the Star before retiring in 1991.    He and Lynn bought a farm near Spencer in the early sixties, and eventually owned five rental properties in Plainfield and one in Owen County, living on a farm in Clayton and maintaining a cattle operation in two counties while working at the Star. Farming was a stressful hobby, but led to many colorful stories and memories: mowing over bee’s nests, losing prime on the pumps in the middle of the night, discovering kittens in the hay loft, and chasing cows that got out of the fence, which always needed mending.    Mostly, Dick enjoyed sitting with a cup of coffee across from someone who hadn’t heard his stories. He’d ask their background and discover people they knew in common. Depending which way the conversation when, he might contemplate the similarity of a given situation to the actions of the Army of the Potomac in 1862, or retell the story of “Mudball Hill” from his youth. Often he’d describe colorful characters from the Star city room, or find an occasion to explain where and why they dumped President Van Buren in the mud on the Old National Road in Plainfield.    He enjoyed recounting the difficulty of loading the bull named “Dynamite” into a trailer, and laughing as he retold college pranks he and his pals pulled in Bloomington. He’d grin and shake his head as he thought about driving two of his many old cars until they literally exploded. In the car with his family, he’d sing the clarinet parts of a Sousa march he learned in high school.    He liked having facts about nature handy, and would describe watching vultures play on the wind above the Owen County barn or hearing coyotes from the back porch in Belleville. He’d talk politics, offer advice, and worry about the weather no matter what the weather was.   He died March 11, 2018, from complications associated with advanced prostate cancer, at Carmel Health & Living Community, where he had been living among books and family photos the past three years, reading Louis L’Amour novels, enjoying field trips to Steak ’n Shake with kids and grandkids, and asking nurses where they were from—looking for common ground.   In addition to his wife, Hopper is survived by a son, Charles (Marjorie) Hopper of Noblesville, and daughter, Ann (Philippe) Kroeker of Carmel, and seven grandchildren: Isabelle Kroeker, Molly Hopper, Sophie Kroeker, Nathalie Kroeker, Theodore Hopper, William Hopper and Daniel Kroeker. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Owen County Historical Society.
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