PDT Staff Writer
Less than a month ago Richard E. “Dick” Hopkins, Jr. signed his star on the floodwall in Portsmouth. Sunday, Hopkins, 86, of Portsmouth, died at Grant Medical Center in Columbus.
Hopkins, who along with his father, the late Richard “Red” Hopkins, Sr., were the only father/son coaches to win state championships at the same school — Portsmouth High School — in Ohio history, coached the Trojans to a 63-62 victory over previously undefeated Cleveland Cathedral Latin in 1978.
“It’s a huge loss,” current PHS basketball coach Eugene Collins said. “I was fortunate enough to play on his last team he coached prior to retiring. And when you think about Portsmouth High School basketball, you think about Dick Hopkins. He was kind of the life-blood of the program for many many years, and just to think that he was at our banquet a short month ago, and not a month later he’s gone, it’s still kind of a shock to me.”
In addition to winning the state championship in 1978, Hopkins’ undefeated regular season 1979 team was the Class AA Associated Press poll champion, and his 1980 team advanced to the state title game before falling to Hamilton Ross.
Hopkins was born June 5, 1927 and married Virginia E. “Ginny” Hopkins. A long-time teacher and coach, he graduated from Portsmouth High School in 1945, served in the U.S. Navy, earned a bachelor’s degree in education from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, and a master’s degree from the University of Illinois.
His first job was teaching at Portsmouth High School where he also served as an assistant basketball and head baseball coach. In 1957 he moved to Grandview Heights, a Columbus suburb, as head basketball and baseball coach, returned to Portsmouth in 1970 as Director of Physical Education and Athletics, and also served as a scout of the Philadelphia Phillies.
“The thing that I always will cherish is that he was a neighbor of mine, and we got a chance to talk a little ball, just me and him at his house for a couple of hours,” Collins said. “He shared a lot of things to help me as a coach last year to get through my first difficult year in terms of wins and losses, and he was good for me. He kept things in the right perspective and talked about the need to keep your nose to the grindstone. You’re going to have difficult times, and here is what you do when you have difficult times. You put your shoes on and go back to work the next day and eventually things will get better.”
Collins said he plans to put together an event to honor Hopkins’ memory.
A memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. Friday at First Presbyterians Church. There will be no visitation. In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be made to the Hopkins-Fultz Scholarship Fund in care of the Scioto Foundation, P.O. Box 911, Portsmouth, Ohio 45662. Arrangements are under the direction of F.C. Daehler Mortuary Company in Portsmouth.
Frank Lewis may be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 252, or at firstname.lastname@example.org. For breaking news, follow Frank on Twitter @FrankLewisPDT.