In Memoriam -- Robert J. Hopman
December 1938-April 2005
Robert J. Hopman died on April 9, 2005.
A registered professional engineer and land surveyor, he was with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for 30 years, retiring in 1997, at which time he joined the firm of Hartman Consulting Corp., then Foster Wheeler and Shaw Environmental.
Among the awards he received during his career are the Department of U.S. Army Civilian Award; the WEDA Lifetime Achievement Award; the Bronze Order of the de Fleury Medal; selected for the Distinguished Civilian Employee Gallery on the wall of the Portland Division Office, many WODCON best paper and innovation recognitions. He was a member of the Western Dredging Association (WEDA), the World Dredging Conference, (WODA), PIANC (the International Navigation Association), and the Society of American Military Engineers (SAME).
Among his accomplishments are work on to clear navigation channels in the wake of the eruption of Mount St. Helens; an innovation for cleaning up oil after the “Exxon Valdez” disaster in Alaska; and cleanup of oil processing plants in Saudi Arabia after Desert Storm.
He was born on December 30, 1938 in Oliva, Minnesota to Charles and Marie Hopman. He moved with his parents and siblings to Portland in 1940, attended Our Lady of Sorrows Grade School, and graduated from Central Catholic High School in 1956. He received a full athletic basketball scholarship to St Martin's College in Lacy, Washington. While there, Robert was captain of the basketball team and received a bachelor's degree in civil engineering. He was a registered professional engineer and land surveyor. Later he went on to earn his master's in public administration from Lewis and Clark College.
Robert joined the Oregon National Guard in 1962 and served more than seven years. During this time, he married his childhood sweetheart Marlene Gottsch, in May 1963, whom he met in the fifth grade.
Mr. Hopman began his career at the Oregon Highway Department, and moved to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers in 1967. Throughout his 30 years with the Army Corps of Engineers Bob was recognized for outstanding achievement in engineering and managerial work. He was eventually Chief of Operations of the Philadelphia District, and retired from the Corps in 1997. He joined Hartman Consulting Corp. as a consultant, then returned to the Northwest to continue his career with Foster Wheeler Environmental, then Shaw Environmental.
Throughout his career, Mr. Hopman's passion for humanitarian and environmental work, and his expertise in dredging waterways and later oil spill cleanup brought him worldwide attention.
During the mid-eighties, the people of Africa were starving. Mr. Hopman spent months in Africa working to bring food to the starving population. He also found himself at the site of several natural disasters, from an earthquake in Alaska, the eruption of Mount St. Helens in 1980, which sent a mudslide into the Columbia River, choking off a critical waterway.
One particular innovation from Bob led to a special application of dredges that assisted in the cleanup of environmental damaging oil spills. Bob's expertise in oil spills clean-up sent him to the “Exxon Valdez” oil spill and off to Saudi Arabia to be part of Desert Storm to clean up war time damage to oil processing plants.
He belonged to several professional organizations including WEDA, WODA, SAME, and PIANC. Bob also dedicated himself to several humanitarian efforts including St. Vincent De Paul and St. Peter's Parish.
Between his courageous fight with cancer and the death of his youngest son Matthew in 1991, Bob's core faith never faltered making him a role model for those around him. His faith, joined with the support of his family, saw him through tragedy and accomplishment.
Bob is survived by Marlene, his wife of 42 years; son, Mark and wife Suzan; daughter, Teresa and husband Cliff; their combined five grandchildren, Samantha, Matthew, Sabrina, Madeline and little Robert; mother Marie Hopman, brother Dennis "Danny" and his sister Pauline. Bob was preceded in death by his son Matthew, his father Charles, and his brother Chuck.
A funeral mass was held at St. Peter's Catholic Church in Portland, Oregon on April 14th. The family suggest in lieu of flowers that donations be sent to the Robert and Matthew Hopman Memorial Scholarship Fund at Central Catholic High School.
"God saw he was getting tired and a cure was not to be.
So he put his arms around him and whispered, "Come to me".
A golden heart stopped beating, hard working hands now rest
God broke our hearts to prove to us he only takes the best."