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James Francis Hopfensperger

March 21, 1928 February 3, 2019
James Francis Hopfensperger
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Obituary for James Francis Hopfensperger

James Francis Hopfensperger died peacefully at his Midland, MI home at age 90 on February 3, 2019. Born to George and Leona (Hartzheim) Hopfensperger on March 21, 1928 in Kaukauna, WI, he was the youngest of four children.

He was married to Mary Rose Garvey on September 7, 1950 at Saint Nicholas Catholic Church in Freedom, WI. Jim received a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee in 1954 and that same year the couple moved to Midland, MI when he accepted a teaching position with the Midland Public Schools. Jim later earned a Master of Science degree from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1965. Prior to arriving in Michigan he served in the United States Navy from 1946 to 1948, continuing in the United States Navy Reserve until 1953.

Jim was recognized in Midland as a one-of-his-kind educator and artist, affectionately referred to as “Mr. Hop” or “Hoppy” by students and colleagues alike. Endlessly engaged, doggedly determined, and unbowed by boundaries, he shepherded a generation of aspiring artists and thinkers at Northeast Intermediate School. In the 1970s he transitioned to a leadership role with the Midland Public Schools, serving as its Fine Arts Coordinator while also teaching as an adjunct faculty member at Delta College and Central Michigan University.

In 1966 he founded and was the principal designer for a family business, Hopfensperger Art Studios. Guided by the steady business hand of his co-owner and spouse, Mary Rose, the studio earned a reputation for exceptional craftsmanship and creativity in the Great Lakes area. His highly distinctive architectural glass installations employ rich and varied interplays of color, form, and light to dramatic effect in both religious and secular settings. Midland’s Blessed Sacrament Church, completed in 1967 and Jim’s home parish, contains some remarkable early examples of his glass window walls and commissioned sculptures. His bronze figures also grace the mid-Michigan landscape and include the noteworthy “Family” sculpture adjacent to the Midland Tridge, dedicated in 1982.

Jim also found time to be the owner and manager of several area restaurants including the immensely popular Dog n Suds drive-in on South Saginaw Road from the 1960s into the early 1970s. In addition, he was an occasional but ambitious entrepreneur, imagining and launching projects such as the Mid-Michigan Pop Festival and Rock Concert in 1969.

As the father of ten children he eventually became known as “Pop Hop” and proudly sported a personalized automobile license plate bearing the moniker. He will be missed by those children and their spouses, John Hopfensperger of Midland; Joan Most of Midland; Jeannine Hopfensperger and Thomas Teal of Chesaning; James A. Hopfensperger and Jane Maddox of Kalamazoo; Jay and Nichole Hopfensperger of Appleton, WI; Jed Hopfensperger of Midland; Matthew Hopfensperger and Sian Kwa of Chapel Hill, NC; Mary and Brian Rhame of Cincinnati, OH; Mona and Thomas Priest of Box Elder, SD; and Marie Hopfensperger and Jeffrey Burdick of East Lansing.

He is also survived by twelve grandchildren, Jessica (Galen) Westman, Juliana (Doug) Teal-Charles, Josiah Most, Gabrielle (John) Mitchell, John and Jennifer Hopfensperger, Katherine and LiEllen Rhame, Liam Hopfensperger, Jeremy and Noah Hopfensperger, and Miles Burdick; four great-grandchildren, Oliver Westman, Tori Mitchell, and Quinten and Samuel Teal-Charles; his brother Robert Hopfensperger of Oak Lawn, IL; as well as his beloved nephew Frank (Debbie) Reimer of Freedom, WI.

Jim was predeceased by his wife, Mary Rose; his parents, George and Leona Hopfensperger; two brothers, George and Leo Hopfensperger, and his daughter-in-law, Rita (Ramsey) Hopfensperger.

The family wishes to thank his son, Jed, whose incredible in-home care made it possible for Jim to enjoy a rich life in his home of 61 years until his last day.

Funeral liturgy for Jim will be celebrated at 11:00 a.m. Saturday, February 9, 2019 from Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church, 3109 Swede Avenue, Midland, MI. Jim’s family will receive friends at the Ware Smith Woolever Funeral Home, 1200 West Wheeler Street on Friday February 8th from 2-4 and 5-7 p.m., and at the church on Saturday from 10 a.m. until the time of Mass.

Following Mass, cremation will take place and Jim's ashes will be interred near his own statue of St. Francis in New Calvary Cemetery in Midland, next to the ashes of his beloved spouse, Mary Rose.

Donations may be made in his honor to the James F. and Mary R. Hopfensperger Endowed Art Scholarship Fund managed by the Midland Area Community Foundation. Arrangements have been entrusted to the care of Ware-Smith-Woolever Funeral Home.


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Previous Events

Visitation

Friday

8

Feb

2:00 PM 2/8/2019 2:00:00 PM - 4:00 PM 2/8/2019 4:00:00 PM
Ware-Smith-Woolever Midland Chapel

1200 West Wheeler Street
Midland, MI 48640

Ware-Smith-Woolever Midland Chapel
1200 West Wheeler Street Midland 48640 MI
United States

Visitation

Friday

8

Feb

5:00 PM 2/8/2019 5:00:00 PM - 7:00 PM 2/8/2019 7:00:00 PM
Ware-Smith-Woolever Midland Chapel

1200 West Wheeler Street
Midland, MI 48640

Ware-Smith-Woolever Midland Chapel
1200 West Wheeler Street Midland 48640 MI
United States

Visitation

Saturday

9

Feb

10:00 AM 2/9/2019 10:00:00 AM
Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church

3109 Swede Ave
Midland, MI 489642

Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church
3109 Swede Ave Midland 489642 MI
US

Service

Saturday

9

Feb

11:00 AM 2/9/2019 11:00:00 AM
Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church

3109 Swede Ave
Midland, MI 489642

Blessed Sacrament Catholic Church
3109 Swede Ave Midland 489642 MI
US

Cemetery Details

Location

New Calvary Cemetery Final Resting Place

2743 EAST BOMBAY ROAD
MIDLAND, MI 48640

2743 EAST BOMBAY ROAD MIDLAND 48640 MI
US

Memorial Contribution

James F. and Mary R. Hopfensperger Endowed Art Scholarship Fund, Midland Area Community Foundation

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