David H. Hopper
Hopper, David H. Beloved father and grandfather, professor and friend, died surrounded by family and love on April 28. David was born on July 31, 1927 in Maplewood, N.J. to Julia M. (Weitzel) Hopper and Rev. Orion C. Hopper. David received his early education in the public school system of South Orange/Maplewood, NJ. He served briefly in the U. S. Navy at the end of World War II, and was stationed on the USS Franks (DD-554). After discharge, he attended Yale College on the G.I. Bill and graduated with a B.A. in 1950. David graduated from Princeton Theological Seminary (B.D./ M.Th.), and after a year of study in Bonn, Germany (Friedrich Wilhelms Üniversität), he returned to Princeton Seminary, receiving his Th.D./Ph.D in 1959. David moved to St. Paul in 1959 to begin his long tenure as a beloved and admired professor in the Religious Studies department at Macalester College. He is remembered by students for his warmth, humor, and brilliant theological mind. He was a mentor and inspiration to countless students and colleagues during his 38 years at Macalester. Some of his favorite courses were: Modern Christian Thought; Existentialism; Science and Religion; The Thought of the Reformation; and seminars on Kierkegaard, Niebuhr, Tillich, and Bonhoeffer. After retirement, he taught in the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute, hosted by the University of Minnesota. His recent Osher courses included The Theological Struggle against the Nazis and The Speeches of Abraham Lincoln. David was the author of four books: Tillich: A Theological Portrait; A Dissent On Bonhoeffer; Technology, Theology, and the Idea of Progress; and Divine Transcendence and the Culture of Change. David's mind was sharp until the end, and he always placed current events in a larger historical and theological context. In the weeks leading up to his death he continued his research on Abraham Lincoln, the subject of his final, uncompleted book: The Lincoln of His Speeches. David loved fishing, watching sports, listening to public radio, attending church, chatting with friends, playing chess and bridge, following politics, making jelly, and gardening. David had an irrepressible sweet tooth and a contagious laugh. He also had an impressive green thumb and loved tending to his tomatoes, raspberries, and apple trees, including his own MN State Fair award-winning "Whoppertosh" apple. David's greatest joy was spending time with his beloved family. He spent countless hours babysitting and playing with his grandchildren, sitting on the sidelines of soccer games, and attending various recitals and school functions. David is survived by his three daughters (with Nancy (Nelson) Olson): Sara (Shawn Sullivan) of Washington, D.C.; Kate (Don Gramenz) of Minneapolis; and Rachel (Josh Williams) of Minneapolis; his grandchildren: Stella, Espen, Zoë, Elsa, Rory, and Spencer; his sister-in-law, Betty Hopper, and much-loved nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his parents, Julia M. (Weitzel) Hopper and Rev. Orion C. Hopper; his brother, Orion Hopper, and his sister, Julia M. Colman. David and his family are deeply grateful for the care he received at United Heart and Vascular Clinic, particularly from Joy Longley, DNP and her team; and also his teams from Allina Hospice. And they are grateful for the community he was welcomed into at Cornelia House of Episcopal Homes, St. Paul. David will be dearly missed by many. A memorial service will take place at a later date. Memorials can be made in his name to Macalester College.
Published on May 3, 2020
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