Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Epilogue | Wade L. Hopping

Wade L. Hopping was a gentleman lobbyist

TALLAHASSEE — To environmentalists, he was Darth Vader, the black hat who lobbied for the bad guys: on the side of nuclear power plants, land developers, phosphate mining, even on the side of boat manufacturers against manatees.

The manatee flap got him hate mail from schoolchildren — schoolchildren! — complete with their hand drawings of the cuddly sea cows.

And yet those who squared off against Wade L. Hopping had only respect for the "gentleman's gentleman."

Even-tempered, gracious, a man of his word.

When he fought to get manatees removed from the endangered species list, Save the Manatee supporters demonstrated outside his office, complete with body bags representing manatees killed by boat propellers. Mr. Hopping came outside to offer them refreshments.

For almost 30 years, he was deeply involved in every environmental cause in Florida, almost always on the side of land developers, sugar growers, ranchers and the like.

His unseen hand was behind legislation from the Florida Forever Act to the Growth Management Act and the Environmental Land and Water Management Act. He helped Florida Power & Light get nuclear power plants licensed at St. Lucie and Turkey Point.

He sometimes said government was "like kudzu," in need of trimming every year. He thought polluters could be trusted to police themselves. Without exception, his foes mourned his passing Tuesday.

"Wade and I jousted for over 35 years, usually on opposite sides of issues," said Audubon lobbyist Charles Lee. "Through it all I found him to be one of the most delightful people to work around I have ever encountered."

Said environmentalist Nat Reed: "He leaves a legacy of great friends, even though some us fought his clients tooth-and-nail."

Jacksonville lawyer Robert M. Rhodes tells the story of the time he and Mr. Hopping lobbied together against an environmental bill supported by some fervent young lobbyists. Mr. Hopping got a friendly legislator to introduce a series of bills that would have hurt their environmental clients.

The distracted opponents chased those bills down assorted "rabbit trails'' and lost sight of the bill that Hopping and Rhodes were working on. Said Rhodes: "It was talked about as a technique for years and called 'the Hopping Rabbit Trail.' "

Many deals get done in the bars on Adams Street after a day at the Capitol, but Mr. Hopping wasn't one to join the partying. Instead, at the end of every work day, he took a brisk walk, his neatly trimmed white beard and white hair a familiar sight around the state Capitol and on Thomasville Road.

He succeeded where many fail because he had encyclopedic knowledge of the state's environmental laws, many of which he helped write, and because of his ability to steer campaign cash from his clients to politicians.

He came to Tallahassee in 1967 as a top aide to then-Gov. Claude Kirk, who appointed him to the Florida Supreme Court a year later. He left the court in 1969, defeated in his bid for election.

He founded the law firm of Hopping Green & Sams 30 years ago, specializing in environmental and land-use law. Now with 52 lawyers, the firm is the largest in Florida specializing in governmental law.

Family and friends gathered Tuesday at Big Bend Hospice to say goodbye. Mr. Hopping died of complications from a stroke and esophageal cancer. He was 77.

On Tuesday, in honor of the former justice of the Florida Supreme Court, Gov. Charlie Crist ordered that all flags on state property be flown at half-staff.

Lucy Morgan can be reached at lmorgan@sptimes.com.

.Biography

Wade L. Hopping

Born: Aug. 12, 1931.

Died: Aug. 11, 2009.

Survivors: include Mary, his wife of 38 years, five children and three grandchildren.

Instead of flowers, the family requests contributions in Hopping's memory to Big Bend Hospice or the Guardian Ad Litem Program in Leon County.

Wade L. Hopping was a gentleman lobbyist 08/11/09 [Last modified: Wednesday, August 12, 2009 9:50am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. MLB umpires wear wristbands to protest 'abusive player behavior'

    Ml

    Major League Baseball umpires wore white wristbands during games Saturday, protesting "abusive player behavior" after Detroit second baseman Ian Kinsler was fined but not suspended for his recent verbal tirade against ump Angel Hernandez.

    Home plate umpire D.J. Rayburn wears a wristband to protest "abusive player behavior" on umpires by players as Rayburn heads to his position to call the first inning of a baseball game between the Milwaukee Brewers and and the Colorado Rockies late Saturday, Aug. 19, 2017, in Denver. [Associated Press]
  2. Tropical Storm Harvey could regroup but stay clear of Florida

    Weather

    The remnants of former Tropical Storm Harvey could rebound while two other systems brewing in the Atlantic Ocean are unlikely to develop into severe weather.

    The remnants of former Tropical Storm Harvey could rebound while two other systems brewing in the Atlantic Ocean are unlikely to develop, according to the National Hurricane Center. [National Hurricane Center]
  3. Fatal hit and run closes section of Nebraska Avenue

    Accidents

    TAMPA — Police are investigating a fatal hit and run crash early Sunday morning on Nebraska Avenue.

  4. Sunday Conversation: Roberto Torres talks immigration

    Human Interest

    YBOR CITY

    Roberto Torres stands as one of the city's most impressive rising entrepreneurs. The owner of Blind Tiger Cafes, Black & Denim clothing company and CoWork Ybor has expanded his reach with locations at Tampa International Airport and The Morrison, a new mixed use development in the SoHo District. Torres, …

    Roberto Torres receives his American Dream award from U.S. Rep. Kathy Castor on Aug. 15.
  5. Tampa police officer shoots man in Ybor

    Crime

    A Tampa police officer shot a man while investigating a trespassing call at a vacant house on the eastern edge Ybor City early this morning, police officials said.

    Daniel Olinger, 68, was shot by an officer investigating a tresspassing call early Sunday morning. [Tampa Police]