Bobby Hopper, a U.S. Army veteran of the Korean Conflict and a Springdale auto dealership owner who was best known for his 16 years on the powerful Arkansas Highway Commission, died July 29. He was 89.
He is survived by his wife Lois of Springdale; children Regina Hopper of Alexandria, Va., and Robert Hopper of Cabot; and his sister Beverly Morton of Mountain Home. A memorial service will be held at 1 p.m. on Wednesday (Aug. 3) at Roller Funeral Home in Mountain Home. The family requests no flowers. Memorial tributes for Bobby may be made to either Circle of Life Hospice or Honor Flight Network.
“Bobby was a remarkable person – a good man, a great friend, a model citizen, and one of the finest and most effective Highway Commissioners ever. I loved him, and my thoughts and prayers are with Lois, Regina, Robert, and all who will miss him. We need more people like him in public life,” said former President Bill Clinton.
Hopper’s service on the commission was recognized by naming a tunnel on Interstate 49 between Fayetteville and Alma the Bobby Hopper Tunnel. His name also is on the Scheid-Hopper bypass in Mountain Home and the Bobby Hopper Highway in Cotter.
“Bobby built a legacy of public service, hard work and perseverance in working towards a vision. While we have lost a great friend, a wonderful person, and a dedicated servant of the people, he and his legacy will never be forgotten,” said Lorie Tudor, director of the Arkansas Department of Transportation.
Rodney Slater, a former Arkansas highway commissioner and former U.S. Secretary of Transportation under President Clinton, said Hopper was an example of public service.
“During our tenures as highway commissioners, although I represented eastern Arkansas and Bobby was representing Northwest Arkansas, we were committed to serving an entire state struggling to be the best it could be and ensure opportunity for everyone. We were always of a mind that being a member of the commission was a sacred honor. No one would have to work to talk to us. It was very important that we travel the state and make ourselves available to the people we had the honor to serve. This is what public service is all about. I am forever grateful to have had the opportunity to work and serve with him. He was also my friend,” Slater said.
Hopper and his wife moved to Springdale in 1969. He was selected by Ford Motor Company to build an automobile dealership, Bobby Hopper Ford. In addition to building the dealership into a large regional auto dealership, Hopper was a member of the Springdale Civil Service Commission; the Arkansas and the American Automobile Dealers Associations; and the Springdale Rotary Club, where he also served as a board member and was honored as a Paul Harris Fellow.
Hopper also served as a board member of the Springdale Chamber of Commerce, which recognized him with lifetime membership status.
“Bobby also had a special interest in giving to the community, funding projects for the Springdale-based Northwest Medical Center and the Springdale Fire Department. He also provided land to establish a park for the Springdale Police Department, which was later turned into a baseball and soccer park for children’s sports,” noted an obit from the family.