Harry Hopkins

(November 18, 2011)

Harry Hopkins, a longtime Churchville real estate broker, farmer and horse trainer who founded the Harford County Association of Realtors in 1960, died May 8 of a heart attack while at work. He was 82.

Mr. Hopkins was a native of Harford County and graduated from Bel Air High School in 1948. He went on to graduate from the University of Maryland in 1952.

Mr. Hopkins loved horses; he met his wife, the former Margaret Noyes, while fox hunting on horseback, said his son, Timothy N. Hopkins of Darlington.

The two raised three children at their 175-acre Priestford Farm in Churchville, where they taught them how to farm and care for the animals, including the thoroughbreds that Mr. Hopkins bred and raced.

"When I was 8 or 9, they took me out for the first time," his son said. "I followed it closely."

Harry Hopkins founded the Realtors' association, then called the Harford County Board of Realtors, the same year he established his business, Harry Hopkins Co. Real Estate. He owned and operated the small business for more than 40 years, selling farms and other large plots of land to developers. Tim Hopkins joined him as an associate in the late 1980s, and he eventually turned over the business to him entirely about a decade later.

The Harford County Association of Realtors appointed Mr. Hopkins as president in 1964, and the members granted him a lifetime achievement award in 2008 for his work on the trade organization's behalf.

Another past president of the association, Tim Sullivan, called Mr. Hopkins a "friendly competitor" and the consummate "country gentleman."

"We could bounce things off one another once in a while," said Mr. Sullivan, who owns Sullivan Realty. "He had that kind of integrity and trustworthiness. You don't see that so often. I respected the man."

The two ran similar, small real estate firms and would talk shop about how to compete with national advertisers.

When Mr. Sullivan served as president of the Realtors' association in 1987, Mr. Hopkins was among the former leaders who were happy to share their advice with him when he needed it.

"He wasn't so much in the limelight, and he was always a contributor," Mr. Sullivan said. "He was a reliable contributor to the organization without feeling like he needed a lot of hoopla or recognition."

Mr. Sullivan said Mr. Hopkins' humble and professional way of conducting himself was why he was so often described as a country gentleman.

"I knew he was a farmer and raised thoroughbreds, but in the office you'd see him in a coat and tie," he said. "And you could tell he was a man who meant what he said, but he didn't have to speak loud.

"He didn't have many airs about him," Mr. Sullivan added. "He had lots of accomplishments, but he didn't act like it."

Mr. Hopkins may have been soft-spoken, but his counsel carried weight to those he advised. He was an active member of Emory United Methodist Church and served on the boards of Harford Community College and the Harford Bank.

"He had a good caring for the community; he knew a lot of people in the community," Tim Hopkins said, adding that his father was influential in Harford's switch from a county commissioner form of government to a charter government.

In his later years, though, the conservative Mr. Hopkins expressed some guilt at having pushed for the change "when he saw how much government has grown in the last 10 years," Tim Hopkins said.

When Cecil County adopted the charter form recently, Tim Hopkins said, his father told him, "I don't think Cecil County knows what they're getting themselves into."

Mr. Hopkins rarely showed a temper with his children, but they were well-disciplined, having grown up on the farm.

"He was very old school," Tim Hopkins said. "I think that really sums him up. He was easygoing. He always talked to people, and he was always polite to people."

In a short note to his family, Mr. Hopkins requested that they not hold a funeral and asked that his body be donated to the anatomy board for research.

In addition to his wife of 63 years and his son, Mr. Hopkins is survived by another son, Harry G. Hopkins III of Rock Hall; his daughter, Margaret H. Bachman of Darlington; six grandchildren; and four great-grandchildren.

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