Quick Stats:

  • Aliases: Daniel Hopkins, Dan, Dad, Guppy, Grandpa, “Doc” Hopkins, Brother, Friend, & Brother-in-Christ.
  • Born June 4th, 1946 to Raymond Richard Hopkins and Doris Louise Thompson in St. Paul, Minnesota.
  • Favorite Smells: Pecan pie, gun smoke from a freshly fired black powder long rifle, rainfall, and grilled fish.
  • Careers: Owner of “Doc” Hopkins Longrifles; sales and management at the St. Petersburg Times, Tampa Tribune, and Mail Marketing.
  • Pastimes: Listening to birds start the day, fishing, serving others, reading, tinkering with pancake mixes, searching for the greatest burger (most were the “best ever”), making contraptions, firing Daisy BB riles at a custom firing range of cans and plastic, waking up early, collecting “projects” in the garage, and making others laugh with the awkward yet endearing dad joke.

The Living Legacy of Daniel Hopkins

No matter who Daniel encountered, he’d extend compassion and a listening ear. Whether family, friends, or strangers, Daniel bestowed love–the greatest gift of all–to each person he encountered.

“Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”

John 15:13

Daniel passed away on June 11th, 2020 surrounded by family. His large, crazy-awesome family carries his legacy.

The following are members of his family (with spouses in parentheses). Some have passed-away*, but all are included in honor of Daniel…

  • Wife, Laura.
  • Siblings: sister, Laurie (Edward*); brother, John*.
  • Children: Jordan (Christina), Jonathan (Alyssa), and Kendall (Gary).
  • Grandchildren: Braden, Amber, Heather, Liz, Anthony, Clark, Brett, and Michael.
  • Great Grandchildren: Maddie, Macie, Leona, William, and Ricky Bobby.
  • Brother-in-law, Marty; sister-in-law, Sally.
  • Nieces and Nephews: Christopher, Brenda, Jeffrey*, Stephanie, Susan, and John.
  • Friends like brothers: Jack and Wally.
  • Daniel gathered with his family for his birthday. All sit around a table.

Daniel loved his family deeply, and they cherished their time with him. He would find unique ways to share love to his family by spending quality time, enjoying meals together, and offering the gift of a great conversation.

And Daniel always had room to hear your story. He and Laura have always been a hospitable team, keeping the doors to their home and their hearts open to family and friends.

Here’s some of Dan’s story…

From the Land of 10,000 Lakes

Daniel was born and raised in St. Paul, Minnesota. He lived with his parents, Richard and Doris, and his siblings, Laurie and John. He lived in Minnesota until he left for college in California, where he graduated from San Francisco Sate.

Daniel felt at home in the “Land of 10,000 Lakes.” His family would visit Lake Elizabeth in the summers, trekking through muddy roads in their old Buick to reach the cabin built by his grandfather. It was stacked with the latest amenities: outhouse in the woods, “thunder jugs” ready to go beneath beds, lamps trimmed and lit, and the most pristine pool / bath any kid could ask for—Lake Elizabeth herself.

Going to Lake Elizabeth was a welcome respite of exploration for Daniel. It represented his favorite childhood memories of fishing, journeying into the wild, and playing with his siblings.

The young Hopkins kids in black-and-white photo smiling and wearing casual clothers.
The Hopkins siblings from left to right: Daniel, John, & Laurie (circa 1950).

The Hopkins kiddos would fish the lake all the time, and it would yield more fish than they could handle. They’d toss overflow fish into a “live box” off the end of the dock for future dinners. And Grandpa Hopkins would smoke piles of fresh fish each week.

Daniel saw Lake Elizabeth as a “Shangri-La,” a true Heaven-on-earth.

“The heavens declare the glory of God;

the skies proclaim the work of his hands.”

Psalm 19:1

The waters of Lake Elizabeth were clear and pure. His sister Laurie explained how they’d use the lake water for drinking and cooking. “The well water was just too full of iron and ore,” she said. “But the lake was pristine.”

Unlike Florida, no dangerous reptiles graced the lake, so the kids could enjoy its bounty. Daniel loved fishing for bass and walleye, often catching vast stringers of fish.

The Land of 10,000 Lakes—especially Lake Elizabeth—primed Daniel for his love of life and his love of God. It’s pure waters filled his heart and life.

Like that pristine lake, his heart overflowed for his family, his friends, his work, and his church.

“Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of living water will flow from within them.”

John 7:38

La Famiglia: Daniel Hopkins & Family

Throughout his life, Daniel grew closer to God. The power of the Gospel of Jesus Christ grabbed hold of him. Though some may view “religion” as unnecessary to having a fulfilling life, Daniel realized the only fulfilling life could be found in knowing God. For him, loving God was something “we get to do,” not as a religious obligation, but as a privilege out of hope and love.

“It’s not about me,” he’d often say, and so he lived his life for others.

Daniel served his family first and foremost, and loved on his children Jonathan, Jordan, and Kendall.

  • Kendall, daughter of Daniel Hopkins, and her three daughters pose at the beach.

His wife, Laura

He loved his wife Laura dearly, and nourished her spiritually. She nourished him as well with all of her Italian love, cooking, and unconditional support. During Dan’s fight with cancer, Laura lovingly served and cared for him. Daniel said she won the award for “Super Woman” many times over.

Daniel and Laura at their wedding day.

His son, Jonathan, and his family

Also, Daniel literally ministered to the family.

He officiated the wedding of his son Jonathan to his daughter-in-law Alyssa.

Daniel officiating Jonathan and Alyssa’s Wedding (Gian Carlo Photography)

Along with Alyssa’s father, Louis, Daniel built a snazzy chicken coop in their backyard. Daniel was always good with his hands and creating things. He often showed love by making new things for family members.

Daniel Hopkins builds a wooden chicken coop with his son, Jonathan.
Daniel and Jonathan assembling the famed chicken coop.

His son, Jordan, and his family

He counseled and encouraged his son Jordan as he navigated teaching and writing, often being his biggest cheerleader. He loved on him and his wife, Chris, and their son, Braden. Whenever Braden would visit their home, “Guppy” would have something new for Braden to play with.

One time, Guppy made him a mock X-Wing fighter in which to sit and to play. Guppy trained the three-year-old pilot on all of its laser cannons and engines (made out of old printer canisters).

Daniel would stoke Braden’s imagination and always find time to play.

Daniel Hopkins and grandson gaze upwards at the sky together.
“Guppy” and Braden watching a glider soar.

His daughter, Kendall, and her family

He loved his daughter Kendall, and always enjoyed visits with her and her large family. Her heart of hospitality is an extension of his love as well.

One year, they toured Disney together along with with Amber, Heather, and Liz. Grandpa Dan enjoyed every minute with his grandchildren and having a chance to a be a big kid himself.

Hopkins family lined up for a photo in front of the castle in Magic Kingdom.
Jordan, Amber, Daniel, Heather, Laura, Liz, & Kendall at Disney.

Take the World, but Give me Jesus

While serving as a volunteer chaplain with Chaplains Outreach Ministries, Daniel would bring a small, portable Bluetooth speaker to play worship songs for those alone in nursing homes.

He cherished the song “Give me Jesus” and played it often for others.

In the morning, when I rise

In the morning, when I rise

Give me Jesus

Give me Jesus

Give me Jesus

You can have all this world

Just give me Jesus

from “Give me Jesus”

The song “Give me Jesus” is an old hymn, though still covered by musicians to this day.

From some of the histories I’ve read, “Give me Jesus” was born out of the evils and distress of Black enslavement in America. Its lyrics reflect a candid declaration to “give me Jesus” in each part of life. It’s line “you can have all this world, just give me Jesus” is hope rising out of pain, knowing nothing the world can offer is as good as God Himself.

Joy through trials

Though Daniel fought an aggressive form of lymphoma for almost two years, he kept his sight on Christ. He’d never complain during the rounds of severe chemo and intensive therapies which kept him at Moffitt Cancer Center for months.

We remember Daniel at Moffitt during Christmas time. We often joked about how his frequent visitor punch card needed to be cashed-out.

Daniel Hopkins wearing a santa hat and smiling in a hospital bed. Though the chemo port and hospital gown can be seen, his smile overpowers the situation he's in.
Daniel smiling during treatment at Moffitt Cancer Center

Instead of complaining about his lot, Daniel would check in with each nurse, technician, and doctor. He gave away dozens of Bible verse cards, little wooden crosses, and encouraging conversations to lift them up.

He thanked them and exuded gratitude in the midst of suffering. If a nurse came in grumpy, he’d ask about their life. By the time he or she would leave, they’d be new friends.

When asked by Moffitt doctors if he wanted to keep fighting, Daniel answered, “Yes!” without hesitation. After a pause, he explained he wanted to continue if it meant helping the doctors’ studies. This level of selflessness permeated Dan’s heart and attitude during his trials.

When asked by friends and family how he felt about being terminal, Daniel would say with a smile, “It’s a gift if I stay, and it’s a gift if I go.”

Daniel Hopkins enjoys Roku headphones (January, 2019)
Dan enjoys a new set of Roku headphones (January, 2019)

The love of a wife

Let it be noted his wife Laura’s sacrificial love during this time. She dislikes driving long distances, especially over bridges and through the busy streets of Tampa. Yet, she made the frequent trek across Tampa Bay and through the hectic streets near Moffitt to care for Daniel.

She sometimes feels God took “the better” of the two of them, but they are a dynamic duo of servanthood and love together. They complemented each other thoroughly, and Laura provided so much strength for Daniel during his hardest times.

Laura and Daniel sit and smile together in their old home. Both are wearing 80's style glasses.
Laura & Daniel (early 80’s)

Love for the Church

Aside from chaplaincy, Daniel served in various ministries including Kairos Prison Ministry, Pinellas Hope, and at St. Anne of Grace Episcopal Church.

During his many treatments and the COVID-19 pandemic, Daniel would share with tears in his eyes, “I miss them. I miss worshiping with others at church.” For him, going to church was not just a Sunday tradition. It was the natural flow of a life steeped in Christ’s love. Daniel served at St. Anne of Grace for many years through prayer ministry, Cursillo, leadership, and by supporting the priests.

Father Rob Crow, St. Anne’s current priest, sustained Dan all through his illness. He was with him during Daniel’s last days of life. Father Rob sat alongside Daniel, and they spoke as two old friends.

In a world where leaders can often feel distant from those they lead (and vice-versa), Daniel felt God telling him to “be a friend” to Father Rob when he first came to minister at St. Anne of Grace. As they met for times of discussion, Daniel and Rob connected over stories of their families and pasts. Soon a friendship grew into a brotherhood.

Where Daniel served, he left a mark of humility and love. He lifted up ministries and poured himself out for them.

You know, we don’t have to do things for God.

We get to do things for Him.

Daniel Hopkins

Looking back, his family can see how Daniel chased after God in his last years of life. He never spoke about retirement plans, living the stress-free life, or having regrets. Instead, Daniel lived the words “you can have all this world, just give me Jesus.”

A Heart of 10,000 Lakes

As we mourn the loss of Daniel Hopkins, he’d probably want us to pause the busyness of life and look at each other. Hug each other. Pray with each other. Serve each other.

For Daniel, he did not define success by money, possessions, or number of cars (though he collected close to a dozen Daisy BB guns). As much as his family groaned over the stacks of “projects” and items strewn throughout the family garage, they knew the goodness and love stored in his heart more than made up for the mess.

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

Matthew 6:19-21

In the end, stuff can’t change the world. But, a heart set on fire by God’s love can.

Truly, Daniel Hopkins was a man with 10,000 pure lakes running from his heart.

Memorial video celebrating the life of Daniel Hopkins (created by Christina Hopkins)

In Honor of Daniel of Hopkins:

  1. A memorial service will be announced at a later date.
  2. If you wish to honor Daniel, please consider the following ministries he loved and the places which ministered to him:
    1. Moffitt Cancer Center (thank you for your dedicated health care to Daniel!)
    2. St. Anne of Grace Episcopal Church (look for “E-Giving” on the right)
    3. Suncoast Hospice (thank you Purple team for your service to Daniel!)
  3. Please leave your condolences, thoughts, and stories by commenting below under “Leave a Reply.”

17 comments on “A Heart of 10,000 Lakes: Remembering the Legacy of Daniel Hopkins

  • Chris Hopkins

    We will miss you Dan/Guppy! You were the best father-in-love anyone could ask for.
    Can’t wait to see you again in Christ’s Kingdom!

    • Jordan

      Love ya, Babes! He thought so highly of you as a mother, wife, and friend to others.

  • Robin Emmert

    I wish I had met him sooner so
    I could have loved (and been loved) longer.

  • Paula Gaskins

    I truly love the Hopkins family. Couldn’t ask for better in-laws for my daughter Chris. Will miss the loving friendship of Dan. During his last days his last words to me as he held onto my hand were ” Keep getting stronger and beat the beast.” I will never forget his kindness. Dan; I truly believe you are celebrating with Jesus now. Til we meet again. Paula

  • Sally Wade

    So sorry for your loss. I know it is comforting to be confident that he is in heaven celebrating!!

  • Paul Senyak

    What a wonderful tribute to your father and his beautiful life with his loving family!
    May God Bless him in the entire Hopkins family.

    Paul Senyak

  • Michelle Piccolo

    So sorry for your loss. What a beautiful tribute to your father. Although I did not have the pleasure of knowing him, I can see what a wonderful man he was not only from this writing but from your character and the man you are Jordan. You seem to have his kind, caring heart. May God wrap his loving arms around all of you in peace and comfort. Although he no longer has this world, he will always have Jesus. ❤️

  • Teri Moser

    I loved this!!! What a great man who will be so missed! I pray for comfort as you all experience the ache from the void a great man and love has left. I loved the video and song selection…💞

  • Kevin Carathanasis

    Wonderful tribute for such an incredible person! Will miss you greatly Dan.

    • Laura Hopkins

      Thank you, Kevin…for everything. ❤️

  • Thomas GaskinsPaula Gaskins

    I will miss Dan. I feel like I’ve lost a brother. Dan has shown me and all of us how to face death with dignity and class. I hope when my time comes he is one of the friends faces that meet me. I’ll know then that I have reached heaven Because I know without a doubt that he is there. Tom Gaskins

  • Lynda Aters Towery

    Now that I have viewed this beautiful tribute to your husband, Laura, I see now that I knew of him when he worked at the St. Petersburg Times (now Tampa Bay Times.) It took those ‘younger’ photos to ring a bell for me. Always smiling leaps to mind! Gone too soon. Condolences to you and your family.

  • Donna Pilawski

    What a beautiful tribute from Dan’s loving family. Dan was always helping others and praying for them. I am blessed to have known him and will miss him. Laura, my sincere condolences to you and your family.

  • Lora & Randy Davis

    Wow i am in tears reading this tribute to Dan, I worked with Dan for 22 years i knew his children as he had brought them to work on occasion. my husband Randy and Dan had become good friends. going to the poor fellows hunt camp on weekends hunting and fishing telling stories, target shooting. I am sorry for your loss, he was a kind wonderful man and will be greatly missed.
    Godspeed Dan (Doc) Hopkins

  • Cathie Shaw

    Wow! Tribute was great! I will always remember a person I could go talk to about anything. Always was there to listen. So sorry for your loss.

  • Susan Heintz

    What a beautiful Tribute to a very special person. He meant so much to us at St Anne of Grace. He will be greatly
    missed. He is now loving being with the Lord. He testified to his love of the Lord many, many times in his work
    at church, and other ministries. Blessings to his family.

    Sue Heintz

  • David Lyons

    Dan’s love of “all people” was so very evident by his actions and deeds in helping and loving others. As I read the tribute to Dan and see the pictures of his extended family, I can now appreciate how truely great a human being Dan was. I feel special to have known such a wonderful and caring individual. i never met a more courageous man that Dan Hopkins.

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