Pastors' Memoirs

Robert James Hopkins, 1919 – 2004

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 On April 26, 1919, in Kingston, Pa., a set of twins was born to William Mozart Hopkins and Lydia Mae Nevell Hopkins — Gladys and Robert, the last of seven children. As Robert grew to manhood, the Salvation Army became a great part of his early years. He attended Salvation Army Training College in New York City. In 1942, he left one Army to join another.

  Robert joined the U.S. Army where he was assigned to the 2nd Indian Head Division, 38th Field Artillery. He was a forward observer team radio sergeant. He landed with his division at Normandy D+1 Omaha Beach.

  He was captured Dec. 16, 1944, in Krinkelt, Belgium, and forced to march to Germany where at Stelay V11A prison camp, a U.S. flag was made with sackcloth and whatever could be found for dye which included blood. This flag ended in Robert’s care. He used it in many memorial services. In May 1979, he personally presented this historic flag to the care of the 2nd Indian Head Museum at Camp Red Cloud, South Korea.

  After his discharge, Robert returned to the Salvation Army where he met Evelyn Mendell. They were married Jan. 28, 1946. In July 1947, they had a son, Norman.

  Robert attended Boston University School of Theology. In 1951, he became an ordained minister for The United Methodist Church. He continued his education at Scarrett College in Nashville, Tenn., where he obtained his evangelistic degree.

  Robert lived his life in service to others. He served with the National Guard in six states and was in the New York State Home Guard. He worked with and supported many groups, such as the Natural Bridge Fire Department, (was Chaplain to the 2nd Division Association), Ruritans, Boy Scouts, the Boys Home in Covington, and the Natural Bridge Learning Center.

  He was pastor for many churches beginning in New York and then in Virginia. His New York charges included Rensselaer Falls, North Bay, Jewell, Vienna, Lee Center, and St. Regis Falls. His Virginia charges included West Frederick, Lakeland, Stonewall-Westview, Natural Bridge at Beth Horon and Mount Olivet, Lyndhurst, and Peoples-Marvin.

  Robert passed on to his promised life with his savior on June 24, 2004. At his graveside service was his Bible, as a memorial to Robert. Upon his sons request, that historic flag made in the P.O.W. camp came back to the states, and it was also a part of Roberts’s graveside funeral at Arlington National Cemetery.

  Living for God, family, and country was Robert’s way of life.

— Norman and Linda Hopkins



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Background photos courtesy of VDOT.

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