OSWEGO, NY – Charles A. Hopkins, 92, passed away December 25, 2015, at his home in Scriba, NY, surrounded by his family.
He was born in Lycoming, NY, son of the late Raymond and Edna (Harris) Hopkins.
Charles’ life was marked with a strong work ethic formed at a young age.
He first worked on the family farm, then later earned spending money doing various jobs in his neighborhood.
Those included maintaining the fire and cleaning the Grange hall, working at the milk station, assisting Leo Whaley at his service garage, mowing neighbors’ lawns, waxing cars and keeping several paper routes.
He was proudly efficient and never idle, traits he held throughout his life.
He also had a number of nicknames, but the ones that stuck with him were “Bunk” and “Hoppy.”
He graduated from Oswego High School.
As a young adult, he worked at PCK Chocolate Works in Fulton, until enlisting in the Army Air Force in 1942.
He served as a tail gunner on a B-17 Flying Fortress and was stationed out of Chelvelton, England.
Charles participated in the battles and campaigns in Normandy, Northern France, Rhineland, and the Air Offensive in Europe.
He completed 32 missions and was decorated with the European-African-Middle Eastern Ribbon with four Bronze Stars, Air Medal with three Oak Leaf Clusters, The Good Conduct Medal, one Overseas Bar and The Distinguished Flying Cross.
Upon his return to the US, he was an AAF Gunnery Instructor in Kingman, Arizona.
Thereafter, he worked several years at Nestles, prior to his employment with Caruso family, which started at Oswego Sheet Metal Works, later know as Northern Steel Corp.
He was often referred to as Harry Caruso’s “right hand man,” due to his versatility, mechanical prowess and his tireless work ethic.
He maintained a close friendship with Harry until his death in 1993.
Charles was also an integral part of building the Oswego Speedway from its beginning in 1950 and worked there for more than 40 years.
He is best known as track superintendent and head of the safety crew.
A natural leader, and especially proud of his safety crew, he held the firemen and other crew members with the highest regard.
They fondly referred to him as “Boss” and he enjoyed long lasting friendships with those working along side him.
In 2001, he was inducted into the Oswego Speedway Hall of Fame.
He was most proud of the home, where he and his beloved wife, Gladys, created a place full of warmth and welcome.
They met when he asked for a dance at Sereno’s Bar and Grill; it was a passion they shared all their lives.
Although he was a favored dance partner to many, Gladys was always his favorite.
He enjoyed maintaining an abundant vegetable garden and wood lot on his property in Scriba, an annual hunting trip to the Southern Tier, trips to Long Island, where he went deep sea fishing with son-in-law and dear friend, Bruce Williamson.
Some of his most cherished moments, however, were spent in his garage.
There, along side his closest friend, Bill Davies and any number of other life long friends, he maintained vehicles and equipment on Sunday mornings.
This tradition, with the camaraderie of both family and friends, was often referred to as “Sunday Church.”
There they would find a wood fire burning in the winter, an offering of a cold beer, and a whole lot of laughter.
He simply was, one of the best.
Charles is survived by three daughters, Dianne (Bruce) Williamson of Long Island, Deborah Hopkins (Paul Burns) of Scriba and Dawn Hopkins (Michael Adams) of Volney; three grandsons; seven great-grandchildren; two great-great-grandchildren; several loving nieces and nephews; not to mention, an abundance of treasured friends.
He is predeceased by his wife, Gladys (Mack); one brother, Raymond “Ernie;” and four sisters, Viola LaBouef, Dorothea LeBouef, Alice Jackson and Gertrude Kersey.
On behalf of the Hopkins family, we wish to express our appreciation for the many acts of kindness and support extended to our father.
The long list includes, but is not limited to VA Services in Fulton, Oswego and Syracuse, the Office for the Aging, Stafkings of Oswego and Oswego County Hospice.
Special thanks to all of his devoted caregivers, who give so much of themselves to care for others, most notably, Jackie Allen and Mary Jo Stone, who knew him best and cared for him the longest; also to Bill Davies, who always perked him up and kept the driveway clear throughout our harsh winters, and to his dear neighbors, Harold and Sandi Russ, who were always there when we needed them, and so many others. We will always hold in our memory your kind devotion to our dad.
May we please suggest any contributions in Charles’ name go to a local veterans’ organization, Office for the Aging of Oswego, Oswego County Hospice or the local animal shelter.
A memorial celebration and cookout for Charles A. Hopkins (April 25, 1923 – December 25, 2015) will be held on Sunday, June 26, at 12:30 p.m. at the Bill Davies’ Pond.
Share memories, tell stories and celebrate a life well lived.
The entrance to Bill’s Pond will be clearly marked. It is located .6-mile past the Valero/Pit Stop Convenience Store, on the northside of County Route 4 (Hall Road).
Dowdle Funeral Home