John D. Hopkins, Jr., a recognized upstate business leader, civil servant and land conservationist, passed away on March 26, 2017, while at his seven-generation home, the Historic Hopkins Farm on Fork Shoals Road, Simpsonville, SC. He was 65.
Son of a local farmer, and a 1973 graduate of Clemson University, Mr. Hopkins had a reputation of being friendly, down to earth and a “true southern gentleman” – a man who was passionately devoted to his family, friends and South Carolina. While his career took him all over the world, Mr. Hopkins considered the Upstate of South Carolina his home, regardless of where he lived.
Mr. Hopkins was the friend and mentor to numerous local community leaders, including State Representative Eric Bedingfield. “I have known John for decades, and I’m extremely grateful for his friendship, guidance and support as I got my start in politics,” stated Bedingfield. “He was a mentor and big supporter when I entered politics, running for Greenville County Council in 2002. We used to meet together with other concerned citizens at the Old Hundred Store. It was clear that John was genuinely concerned about the issues facing the residents of southern Greenville County, and passionate about making sure their voice was heard,” Bedingfield added.
A 1973 graduate of Clemson University, Mr. Hopkins served as president of his fraternity and a member of Blue Key Honor Society while attending. He was also an IPTAY life member and past fund chairman, and served on the Clemson Board of Visitors and the S.C. Botanical Garden Advisory Board.
Soon after graduation, Mr. Hopkins began a distinguished 26-year career with Owens Corning, serving them in ten different locations. His last role with Owens Corning took him to Washington, DC, in 2000, where he was their Vice President of Government Relations and Public Affairs. In the ten years prior to that, he managed operations in Hong Kong, Brussels, and the United States, responsible for facility planning, customer service, transportation, logistics, and purchasing.
Throughout his career, Mr. Hopkins served on a variety of boards and commissions ranging from banking and technology to agribusiness and real estate. He most recently served as Director of the International Transportation Innovation Center as well as the South Carolina Technology & Aviation Center (SCTAC, formerly The Donaldson Center).
Upon leaving Owens Corning, Mr. Hopkins returned to the family farm where he cultivated his interest in land conservation and real estate by forming The Fieldstone Group, a collection of real estate investment, land and timber holdings. He also expanded his family farm to host a variety of social events. Some of his community service roles included Charter member of the Presbyterian Fellowship of Fountain Inn, multiple Rotary Paul Harris Fellow, member of the Fork Shoals Historical Society, and past president of the Augusta Road Ruritan Club. Mr. Hopkins also served on the Palmetto Bank Board of Directors, and chaired the Anderson University Board of Regents as well as the Upcountry History Museum board.
Throughout his life, Mr. Hopkins was guided by the motto: “You never go wrong doing the right thing.” His recognized business success was strengthened by his faith and his commitment to three core principles: “Work hard, do what you say you’re going to do, and treat everyone with respect.” Mr. Hopkins truly loved meeting people and developing relationships. One of his favorite expressions was, “friends are the flowers in the garden of life.” Mr. Hopkins is survived by two children: a daughter, Caroline Hopkins Newton, and a son, John Drayton Hopkins, III, both of Greenville.