James H. Hopkins, 75, artist who painted landscapes

March 24, 2006|By JACQUES KELLY | JACQUES KELLY,SUN REPORTER

James H. Hopkins, an artist who painted Harford County landscapes and who earlier had taught English and drama, died of cancer Sunday at the Gilchrist Center for Hospice Care. The Delta, Pa., resident was 75.

A descendant of the extended family of merchant-philanthropist Johns Hopkins, he taught for many years at Harford Community College, where he helped establish its theater program and summer opera festival.

Family members said that he often said, "I never worked a day in my life. I was always doing what I loved."

Born in Bel Air, he was a 1948 graduate of Bel Air High School and earned a degree at Randolph-Macon College in Ashland, Va.

After serving in the Air Force during the Korean War, Mr. Hopkins earned a master's degree from the Yale University School of Drama in 1960.

In the early 1960s, Mr. Hopkins became a professor of English and drama at Harford Community College, where he co-founded the Harford Opera Theater and the Susquehanna Festival Theater.

"He taught English courses with an emphasis on plays," said Paul Martin, a friend and former Harford faculty member. "He wrote and directed plays and acted in them and was equally good in all three capacities."

After 21 years of teaching and directing, Mr. Hopkins retired and began painting in oils, watercolors and acrylics and did pen-and-ink sketches.

He depicted the hilly terrain of northern Harford County along the Mason-Dixon line at Whiteford and Delta, returning often to a setting of black willow trees.

Family members said he sold nearly 40 canvases a year.

"He loved his abstracts because he sought the spiritual dimension of his art," Mr. Martin said. "And he saw that time was precious and lived it well."

Friends said that Mr. Hopkins assembled guests for dinners he prepared using copper pots he hung throughout his kitchen. He had an annual tradition of making beef Wellington on Boxing Day, Dec. 26.

"He was at the center of the conversation at his parties, but he didn't dominate them," his friend said. "He was a wonderful conversationalist."

Family members said Mr. Hopkins continued to paint and sketch throughout his six-month stay at the Gilchrist Hospice. He completed a series of self-portraits last week.

An exhibit of his paintings, which he named Landscapes of the Mind, hangs at the Liriodendron Mansion in Bel Air.

"Jim was always a seeker after things," Mr. Martin, said. "And in the way of true seekers, he always found himself wanting."

A memorial service will be held at 1 p.m. tomorrow at St. Mary's Episcopal Church, 1 St. Mary's Church Road, Abingdon.

Survivors include his wife of 32 years, the former Marie Barratt; three daughters, Caroline Hopkins of Boston, Quince Hopkins of Lexington, Va., and Rebecca Hopkins Razavi of Potomac; two brothers, Peter Hopkins of Richmond, Va., and Philip Hopkins of Albuquerque, N.M.; and four grandchildren. His marriage to Gertrude Barnes Myers ended in divorce.

jacques.kelly@baltsun.com

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