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Russell D. Hopkins

rd hopkins

31 December 1884 - 2 January 1984
Conference Cane: 1975
Age at death: 99 years

Dr. Russell D. Hopkins

Dr. Russell D. Hopkins, 99, departed this life on Jan. 2, 1984. He was born in Elkhart, Indiana, Dec. 31, 1884. He remembered Presidents Cleveland and McKinley. His father was a teamster and hauled coal and goods by horses and wagons. When he was 15 the family moved to Detroit and Russell graduated from Eastern High School in January 1903. As a youth he was secretary of the Sunday School and president of the Epworth League; he was on the state Epworth League cabinet. He worked for a year and a half at the old Olds Motor Works, before Olds moved back to Lansing. He worked 10 hours a day, six days a week, and walked two miles each way, to and from work, thus earning $10.50 a week!

Wanting a college education, in the fall of 1904 he went to Albion College and worked his way through. There he was influenced by Professor Goodrich, reknowned professor of the Bible, and he was a member of a Deputation Team. "Somewhere along the line I decided to go into the ministry," was his comment long after. He served a student church at Camden.

In September 1908, Russell Hopkins was appointed by the Detroit Conference to the three-point Oak Grove Circuit where he drove a horse and buggy, or horse and cutter, and always got through. He married Lulu May Smith on Oct. 7, 1909. In 1910 he was sent to the Ninde Church in Detroit, and Ford Memorial. Here he rode the bicycle and street car, or interurban. In 1914 he was sent to Menominee, where he bought his first car, a Model T Ford, which had to be cranked and was difficult to start in wintertime. His remaining charges were as follows -- Detroit: Mary Palmer, 1918-21; Saginaw: Jefferson Avenue, 1921-26; Flint: Central, 1926-28; Detroit: Preston, 1928-32; Birmingham: First, 1932-36; Detroit: Christ, 1936-54 (18 years); and Detroit Christ, 1954-57.1

Here he was forced to retire as he was 72 1/2 years old. But he was too active to retire. He served now as Associate at Ferndale for 9 years. In 1966 he said, "I finally quit after 58 years!"

Russell's first wife Lulu died in 1950. He married Estelle A. Moore on Dec. 25, 1953. She predeceased him, March 16, 1982. In 1975 Russell Hopkins was awarded the Conference Cane. This cane is held by the oldest minister of the Conference who has served at least 35 years here and is a resident of the Area. As holder of the Conference Cane for 8 1/2 years, Russell was a fine symbol of our ministry.

During his ministry he travelled to Europe four times, for periods of 3-4 weeks. Twice he went with Sherwood Eddy Seminars, with prominent religious and political leaders lecturing to them at every major stop. He wrote extensive reports of his travels in the papers, and gave numerous illustrated lectures on his travels. In old age Dr. Hopkins was alert and affable, a good conversationalist, bearing the marks of leadership and of much experience in living. He is survived by a son Frederick of Flint, and a daughter, Ruth Jones, of Mt. Clemens. The funeral service was conducted by Rev. Frank Leineke at Christ United Methodist Church in Detroit, where he had served so long.

- Detroit Annual Conference minutes of 1984, p. 370


1. Archivist's note: Rev. Hopkins was at Detroit: Christ for 18 year from 1936-1954, but his time from 1954-1957 was actually at Detroit: Fourteenth Avenue.