William J. Hoppes: Bill, Willie or just Hoppes to his friends. Man about town, Army Veteran, world traveler and father, was born July 17, 1931 and died Aug. 28, 2021 at 90 years of age. He passed peacefully in his home which was how he wished to go.
He was born and raised in Shelby, N.C. He enlisted in the army at the age of 17 and was a Combat Engineer in the U.S. Army stationed in Austria post WW2.
According to his stories he spent half his time in Europe and the other half in the brig. After the army he apprenticed at the Long Beach Naval Shipyard which led to a career with the Federal Aviation Administration where he advanced to the level of Assistant Depot Chief in Oklahoma City and retired there in 1976.
Among his many notable achievements while working for the FAA was the year he spent in Vietnam during the war installing radar equipment in the various airfields around the country from 1967 to 1968. He took many pictures and enjoyed telling stories of life there and his exploits in Thailand and Southeast Asia, once even attending a party with the Shaw of Iran at one of his palaces.
After retirement from the FAA, he took a job with Lockheed and embarked on another adventure to Saudi Arabia. After Lockheed he spent the next 20 years working for the Litton Corporation and then Hughes Aircraft where he helped design the maintenance system for the Phoenix Missile (I think that was supposed to be confidential).
He retired from the Federal Aviation Administration in 1976 in Oklahoma City.
He was a very good carpenter as would become evident in the many home remodels he did while living in the homes with his family through the years, a skill he learned from his father while growing up in Shelby.
His last employment was with Raytheon which he often said was his favorite because he was hired more as a carpenter rather than a manager, preparing sites by building various storage buildings and offices.
He traveled all over the U.S. with Raytheon choosing where he would work and when.
In the summer he would work in Wyoming or Maine and the winters Houston or California. But always, on his terms. He finally retired for good in the 90s, famously saying “I am not too old to work, just too old for anyone to hire.” That was our dad.
He was an electrical engineer by trade but a carpenter, knifemaker and gun enthusiast by choice. He was known as a legendary partier, especially to the tenants of the Athens apartment complex, often supplying them with unlimited beer and wine on the weekends during the summer. He lived there several years while building his house on Dixie Isle in the late 80s.
He lived, loved and laughed for 90 years. He loved visiting with friends, attending his ham radio club meetings, going out to eat, drinking a good glass of wine or a frozen margarita and eating chocolate. He loved life and lived it to the fullest! He had only one regret, and that was that he didn’t live longer.
William was preceded in death by his wife Bobby Jo Spraggins, mother Elizabeth (Jackson) Hoppes, father Arthur Franklin Hoppes, brother Donald Baxter Hoppes and sister Shirley Ann Hoppes.
He is survived by sons Lawrence Earl Kany and wife Joyce of Lancaster, Calif., Joseph Franklin Hoppes and wife Robbie Hoppes of Phoenix, Ariz., Christopher Allan Hoppes and wife Barbara Hoppes of Yukon, Okla. and Paul Spraggins and his wife Jami of Eustace, daughter Sharman Marie Hoppes and husband Bruce Nixon of College Station, sister Betty Jane Powel of Shelby, N.C., brother Harold Hoppes of Las Vegas, Nev., Patricia (Hoppes) Brown, (ex-wife) from Oklahoma City, Okla., many much-loved nieces, nephews, grandchildren and great grandchildren all of whom will miss him.
In closing, a recent and funny memory was from a few months ago. Us kids were there for a visit and just talking amongst ourselves, Dad had dozed off in his favorite chair as he often did in the final months when suddenly he awoke and abruptly said “speaking of nurses, you know who has a good hospital . . . Bangkok, Bangkok has great hospitals” and then he dozed back off. I will let you use your imagination as to why he was even in a Bangkok hospital. But I hope when you do, you will think that he was doing something on his terms, with a drink in his hand, and having a good time.Cheers Dad. Until we meet again.