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In memory of C. Leon Hopper Jr. (1927-2016)

Posted By Michelle Pederson, Friday, July 22, 2016
Updated: Monday, July 25, 2016

The Rev. Dr. C. Leon Hopper Jr. died on June 19, 2016 at the age of 89.


Leon was born on February 21, 1927 to Charles Leon Hopper Sr. and Ethol Peterson Hopper. After graduating high school, he served for eighteen months in the United States Navy.  He received a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Washington in 1951; a Bachelor of Sacred Theology from Harvard Divinity School in 1954; an honorary Doctorate of Divinity from Meadville Lombard in 1981; and an honorary Doctorate of Sacred Theology from Starr King School for the Ministry in 1993.


Rev. Dr. Hopper was ordained to the ministry in 1954, by the First Congregational Parish Unitarian of Petersham, MA. He served the Petersham congregation from 1953 to 1957. In 1957, he moved to Boston, MA and was appointed Executive Director for the newly formed Liberal Religious Youth (LRY). Come 1963, he was ready to return to parish ministry, and accepted a call to serve as minister to the Jefferson Unitarian Church of Golden, CO. He served the congregation in Golden for the next thirteen years. The congregation named their sanctuary in honor of him. He returned to Boston in 1976, and was appointed as the second Ministerial Education Director of the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA). He held that role for five years. In 1981, he accepted a call to serve East Shore Unitarian Church of Bellevue, WA, and spent eleven years there. Rev. Hopper retired from parish ministry in 1992, and was honored as East Shore’s Minister Emeritus.


Post retirement, Rev. Dr. Hopper helped establish the UU Partner Church Council (UUPCC) and served the Council for ten years as President and Treasurer. Additionally, he served as President of the Continental Unitarian Universalist Ministers Association (UUMA), and he was instrumental in setting up the continuing education wing of the UUMA, known as CENTER (Continuing Education, Network, Training, Enrichment and Renewal). Committed to the denomination, Rev. Hopper also served as Chair of the Meadville Lombard Theological School Board of Trustees; member of the UUA Ministerial Aid Funds Committee; and Ministerial Settlement Representative to the Pacific Northwest District of the UUA. He received the Unitarian Universalist Association’s Distinguished Service Award in 1998 and was the Berry Street Essayist in 2001, speaking on “The Art of Ministry: Being and Doing Revisited.”


During his thirty-nine years in active ministry, Leon served on the Board of Trustees of the American Unitarian Association, the UUA, and the UUMA.  He was a dedicated supporter of the International Association for Religious Freedom, and he helped establish the human service agency Jeffco Support Inc. (now the Action Center) in Jefferson County, CO to address human service needs. He served as board member and president for the East King Council of Health and Human Services; president of Eastside Human Services Council; board member of Eastside Domestic Violence Program; and board member of the Center for Prevention of Sexual and Domestic Violence (now King County Sexual Assault Resource Center).


Throughout his college years, Leon attended University Unitarian Church in Seattle, WA. It was there that he first heard the call to the ministry. He met his future wife, Dorothy, at the congregation, as both were members of the Channing Club youth group. Leon and Dorothy married in 1951.


Leon is survived by his wife of 65 years, Dorothy Hopper; daughters, Sheridan Botts (Richard) and Rachel Tucker (Jim); son, Chuck Hopper (Pidgie); and five grandchildren.


Rev. Dr. Hopper will be honored and memorialized at a service on Tuesday, July 26th at 2:00 P.M., at East Shore Unitarian Church, 12700 SE 32nd Street, Bellevue, WA 98005-4317. The service will be led by Revs. Barbara ten Hove and Elaine Peresluha. Colleagues are invited to robe and process. Please send short memories and stories of Leon, to be possibly used in the service, to Barbara Ten Hove,


In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to the Seattle University School of Theology and Ministry, Leon Hopper Scholarship Fund.


Notes of condolences may be sent to Dorothy Hopper, 900 University Street, Horizon House, 4C, Seattle, WA 98101,

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