Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Longtime Pasco Times columnist Carolyn Hopkins dies at age 90

Some of the nation's best journalists have passed through this newsroom. They exposed corruption, wrote stories that changed public policy. They won big awards and moved on to papers like the New York Times.

Carolyn Hopkins nurtured many of them, held their egos in check and gave them a front-row model of loyalty and decency. She was like the newsroom mom. Those prone to colorful language checked it at the door rather than cuss in front of Carolyn, not that she hadn't heard it all before.

It's just that she warranted so much respect.

In the days before email, 9 out of 10 letters that came into the Pasco Times newsroom were addressed to Carolyn Hopkins. They filled boxes and covered her desk. She patiently organized information from clubs and every day accurately compiled a column we called "People & Parties.'' For 31 years, she took care of "my people,'' and they loved her for it.

She interviewed couples celebrating 50th wedding anniversaries and took their pictures. She judged and published essays from schoolchildren, compiled church news and occasionally wrote birth announcements and obituaries. She volunteered to walk for charities and painted homes for old people.

If Carolyn hadn't worked here, she would have been a perfect subject for a feature writer. She was a third-generation Floridian whose grandfather's mule business became one of the state's first Ford dealerships. She married Alan, a University of Florida frat boy she met on a blind date. They became journalists, raised three sons and lived 12 years aboard a 30-foot sailboat. She won trophies showing off her classic 1970 Datsun 2000.

Carolyn preferred being on the keyboard side of a story, but she did agree in 1992 to let me write about her 50th wedding anniversary — just like so many she had written herself. Her sons had arranged for a limousine to take them from their home in Bailey's Bluff to Dunedin. The lovebirds were showered with gifts and affection.

One year later, Alan died of cancer. When Carolyn returned to work, she came into my office and shut the door. She had survived colon cancer and a triple bypass years earlier, but for the first time she seemed to consider her mortality. She made me promise that I would write her obituary. I don't recall my exact response, but I know it was something like, "You'll probably outlive all of us.''

She immersed herself in work, gardening and her cars, including a BMW 2-seater convertible. In 2004, as she seemed to defy the aging process, she announced her retirement at age 82. "I always thought they'd have to drag me out of here on a stretcher,'' she said.

We had a retirement party and she headed out on the first of what would be dozens of exotic overseas adventures with son Michael and his wife, Pilar. She called once in awhile and even dropped by to show off the Smart Car that Michael bought her in 2009. She remained happy and mostly healthy until Thursday, when she visited a doctor's office near Michael's home in Coral Gables and fell, fracturing her left femur. She died from complications eight hours later. She was 90.

Michael called with the news on Monday and made plans to spread Carolyn's ashes in the Gulf of Mexico off Bailey's Bluff, the same point where she had let the wind take Alan's.

One of those hard-driving reporters I mentioned earlier called to express sadness at Carolyn's passing, but noted that her's was a "good death.'' She would agree.

More important, her's was a good life. I'm honored to fulfill the promise.

Longtime Pasco Times columnist Carolyn Hopkins dies at age 90 05/08/12 [Last modified: Tuesday, May 8, 2012 8:48pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. US President Donald Trump, left,  meets with Israeli President Reuven Rivlin, Monday, in Jerusalem. Trump opened his first visit to Israel Monday, a two-day stop aimed at testing the waters for jumpstarting the dormant Middle East peace process. [AP photo]
  2. Study: Florida most friendly state for retired veterans

    Working Life

    Florida is the nation's best state for military retirees looking for somewhere to settle. That's according to a study released Monday by WalletHub which rated Florida the most friendly when it comes to economic factors, quality of life and health care.

    Veterans watch the Tampa Bay Buccaneers during training camp in 2016. Florida is the most friendly state for retired veterans according to a new WalletHub study. | LOREN ELLIOTT, Times
  3. Flynn to invoke 5th Amendment, won't hand over documents in Russia probe, source says


    WASHINGTON — Former National Security Adviser Michael Flynn will invoke his 5th Amendment protection against self-incrimination as he notifies a Senate panel that he won't hand over documents in the probe into Russia's meddling in the 2016 election, according to a person with direct knowledge of the matter.

    In this Feb. 13, 2017 file photo, Mike Flynn arrives for a news conference in the East Room of the White House in Washington. The former national security adviser will invoke his Fifth Amendment protection against self-incrimination on Monday. [Associated Press]
  4. Department store chain from Puerto Rico coming to University Mall


    TAMPA — Grand's, a department store chain from Puerto Rico, will open inside the former Dillard's space at University Mall in September.

    Grand's, a department store chain from n Puerto Rico, will open inside the former Dillard's space at University Mall in Tampa in September. Coloring rendering of revamped University Mall.
[CBRE Group]
  5. Rubio on Trump: 'People got what they voted for'


    Marco Rubio says people shouldn't be surprised about the drama flowing from the White House.