Fondly remembering Ronald Gray "Ronnie" "Hooper" Hopkins, North Mississippi's unsung hero who was the fiddle playing, mule loving, embalmer from Tippah County.
Ronnie, age 64, passed away Sunday, March 15, 2020, at his home in Ripley, MS. He was born on October, 24, 1955, to Jody Lawrence and Flossie Elone Pool Hopkins in Benton County, Mississippi.
Ronnie was a Funeral Director and a Licensed Embalmer, receiving his degree from Gupton-Jones College of Funeral Service in Decatur, GA. He worked in the States of Mississippi, Arkansas, and Tennessee as a Trade Embalmer, he worked for several funeral homes in the area including: McBride Funeral Home, where Ronnie did his apprenticeship, Shackelford Funeral Home, McMillan Funeral Home, Browning Funeral Home, Holly Springs Funeral Home, Magnolia Funeral Home and Memphis Funeral Home .
He was a member of Mt. Moriah Baptist Church in Ripley, MS. Ronnie is survived by two brothers: Donny Ray Hopkins of Ripley, MS, and Bobby Gene Hopkins of Selmer, TN. Preceded in death by his parents; and one infant brother: James Tate.
His memorial service was held on Wednesday, March 18, 2020, at McBride Funeral Home Chapel with Dr. Jack Bennett as the officiant. Expressions of sympathy for the Hopkins family can continue to be made by visiting www.mcbridefuneralhome.com.
Special remembrance by Scott Huskins of Canton, GA:
Ronnie never met a stranger and would give away the last dollar in his pocket. He was an accomplished musician mastering several instruments. His favorite was the fiddle. He was known as the fiddling embalmer from Tippah County Mississippi. Ronnie had the distinct honor of playing a show on the Grand Ole Opry with the Father of Bluegrass Music, Bill Monroe. Ronnie loved mules, gardening and all things Amish. He had a beautiful team of mules and enough horse drawn equipment to start a museum. He also rubbed shoulders with many of the movers and shakers of the 1970’s & 80’s. While employed at Memphis Funeral Home, he was dispatched to Graceland to address an issue with Mr. Vernon Presley’s body. Many celebrities at Graceland that day witnessed the work of a man that had mastered his craft.
To many of his closest friends he was simply known as "Hooper". A name Ben Jones gave him when he was a teenager starting his career in funeral service. No one could even begin to imagine the dark and lonely nights that he spent in a preparation room doing his absolute best to embalm to perfection, regardless of how many hours it would take. He never cut corners and treated all human remains, entrusted to his care, with the utmost respect.
I met Hooper in 1975 while we were mortuary science students in Atlanta. We remained close friends for 45 years and talked several times every week. My last conversation with him was Thursday, March 12th, 2020 (we actually talked twice that day). When I received the news of his passing on Sunday night, I was heartbroken. Not surprised but certainly not ready to say goodbye. He made a lasting impact on all of my family as well as many people here in Georgia.
I had the privilege of attending his Christian baptism in Ripley, MS several months ago. He was extremely proud of his public profession of faith in Jesus.
Ronnie Hopkins was truly a gift from Heaven to all that took time to befriend him and he is going to be greatly missed. Rest in peace my friend, we will never let your memory die!
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