William Dewar "Will" Hopkins, 54, died unexpectedly in his sleep on December 6, 2015, at home in Flint Hill, Virginia. He was born and raised in Rocky Mount, Virginia, the son of John Lee Hopkins and Lillian Dewar Hopkins. He attended Franklin County public schools, and graduated from Franklin County High School in 1979 as salutatorian. He was proud to have represented Franklin County High School on WDBJ Television's "Classroom Quiz", where his teams retired undefeated after 7 consecutive wins in both his junior and senior years.
Will attended the University of Virginia as an Echols Scholar, graduating with high distinction and Phi Beta Kappa honors, in 1983. He became a "double Hoo" by earning his law degree at the University of Virginia School of Law in 1986. While an undergraduate, he was elected president of Sigma Phi fraternity. He assisted the UVA athletic department in creating a new system for allocating student tickets for the Atlantic Coast Conference basketball tournament, and remained a lifelong fan of UVA basketball.
After law school, he began a successful legal career in Washington, D.C., with the firm of Ross, Dixon & Masback (now a part of Troutman Sanders), where he became a partner. It was in Washington in 1987 where he met Joseph H. "Joe" Gale, who became his life partner. The couple married in 2013. Gale is a judge on the United States Tax Court.
In 2001, Will quit the practice of law in order to pursue his life's passion: songwriting. Lacking formal musical training, he was nonetheless gifted musically and a consummate lyricist. He divided his time between Washington, D.C., Flint Hill and Nashville, where he collaborated with other songwriters and recording artists. He performed numerous times at the famed Bluebird Cafe and was recognized in 2004 with the Grand Prize of the Mid-Atlantic Songwriters Association Competition and in 2005 with the Tennessee Songwriters Association's Most Promising Male Writer award. More recently, a song he co-wrote will Ellen Britton, "That's What Makes the Bluegrass Blue", made it to the top of the Bluegrass charts during 2015. His proudest achievement, "Different", also co-written with Britton, was recently recorded by country artist Ty Herndon. Will learned shortly before his death that another song he wrote with Britton, "My Last Sunset", had been selected for recording by a legendary artist who cannot be revealed at this time.
In addition to his musical success, Will was an accomplished chef, who had the confidence to prepare dinner at his home for his friend and neighbor, Patrick O'Connell, the acclaimed proprietor-chef of the Inn at Little Washington in Washington, Virginia. He was also a skilled gardener, who designed, executed, and maintained nearly 4 acres of gardens at his Flint Hill residence that were featured on the 2013 Garden Club of Virginia Historic Garden Week Tour.
Will's parents predeceased him. In addition to Judge Gale, he is survived by his brother John Lee Hopkins, Jr. and his wife Teri; nephew John Lee Hopkins, III and his wife Aga; niece Anna Catherine Hopkins; uncle Henry Lee Hopkins and his wife Carolyn; as well as numerous Hopkins and Lee cousins.
A memorial service will be held at noon on Saturday, December 12, at Trinity Episcopal Church, 15 E. Church Street, Rocky Mount, Virginia. A celebration of his life will also be held in May 2016 in the gardens at his residence in Flint Hill. In lieu of flowers, the family suggests contributions to Rappahannock Animal Welfare League, Rappahannock Association for Arts and Community, Headwaters, The Child Care and Learning Center or SMYAL. For those who prefer, contact Arrington Flowers in Rocky Mount, 540-483-0229.
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