Wil­liam H. Hop­kins

He spent 50 years with gen­eral con­tract­ing firm John K. Ruff Inc., serv­ing as pres­i­dent from 1977 un­til 1995

Baltimore Sun - - OBITUARIES - By John-John Wil­liams IV john-john.wil­liams@balt­sun.com

Wil­liam Harold Hop­kins Jr., who over­saw hun­dreds of build­ing projects as pres­i­dent of gen­eral con­trac­tor John K. Ruff Inc., died Wed­nes­day at his Ti­mo­nium home of Hodgkin’s lym­phoma. He was 89.

Hop­kins was born in Amissville, Va., the son of Wil­liam H. Hop­kins Sr., a car­pen­ter, and Mar­garet Hop­kins. The fam­ily moved to Ham­p­den when Mr. Hop­kins was about 3, ac­cord­ing to a daugh­ter, Mary El­iz­a­beth Gra­ham, who lives in Manch­ester.

Mr. Hop­kins grad­u­ated early from Bal­ti­more Polytech­nic In­sti­tute in1944 and went to the Fin­ger Lakes re­gion of New York to serve in the Navy. He achieved the rank of seaman first class and was hon­or­ably dis­charged in 1946.

“He was very proud of be­ing in the Navy — even in his later years,” his daugh­ter said. “Had a framed pic­ture of his dis­charge pa­per.”

Upon re­turn­ing to Bal­ti­more, Mr. Hop­kins stud­ied con­struc­tion and en­gi­neer­ing at the Johns Hop­kins Uni­ver­sity. He was hired as an es­ti­ma­tor at John K. Ruff Inc. Dur­ing his 50 years at the com­pany, he worked his way up and be­came pres­i­dent in 1977. He re­mained pres­i­dent of the com­pany un­til the busi­ness closed in 1995, ac­cord­ing to his daugh­ter.

Dur­ing his stint as pres­i­dent, Mr. Hop­kins over­saw more than 100 ma­jor build­ing projects through­out the Bal­ti­more re­gion. Projects in­cluded Loch Raven El­e­men­tary, Tow­son High School, Mil­ford Mill Ju­nior/Se­nior High, churches, post of­fices, apart­ment com­plexes, and build­ings at Mor­gan State Uni­ver­sity, the for­mer Villa Julie Col­lege (now Steven­son Uni­ver­sity) and the Uni­ver­sity of Mary­land, Bal­ti­more County.

“You name it, they built it,” Ms. Gra­ham said.

The busi­ness was some­what tu­mul­tuous at times be­cause the com­pany was nonunion.

“It was known for be­ing a merit shop,” Ms. Gra­ham said. “At one point, it was the largest nonunion shop in Bal­ti­more. ... Some peo­ple were beaten up. For­tu­nately, he was never as­saulted. But we had a lot of our equip­ment burned and de­stroyed. One time, a brick was thrown through the win­dow of our home. It was a very in­ter­est­ing time.”

Mr. Hop­kins was a staunch sup­porter of then-Bal­ti­more Mayor Wil­liam Don­ald Schae­fer, who shared his vi­sion of im­prov- ing Bal­ti­more through growth.

“He was a big sup­porter of the light rail pro­ject,” Ms. Gra­ham said. “He re­ally wanted to im­prove Bal­ti­more and im­prove op­por­tu­ni­ties for peo­ple in Bal­ti­more. He was a big sup­porter of that and what Wil­liam Don­ald Schae­fer was do­ing for Bal­ti­more — re­ally re­vi­tal­iz­ing the city.”

Max Stad­feld was the lawyer for John K. Ruff Inc. from 1981 un­til it closed.

The two be­came friends “pretty quickly,” ac­cord­ing to Mr. Stad­feld, who lives in Elder­s­burg.

“Bill was a guy that was easy to get to know,” he said. “If Bill told you it was so, it was so.

“He was a gen­er­ous man. He was a first-class guy,” Mr. Stad­feld said. “The thing that was most im­pres­sive about Bill was his loy­alty and hon­esty. He did things the right way. Ev­ery time you were with Bill, you would laugh. He was very gen­er­ous with his time. He will be missed.”

Mr. Hop­kins en­joyed spend­ing time with his fam­ily.

He met his wife, Mar­guerite Plum­mer, at the old Eq­ui­table Trust Co. branch in Ham­p­den in 1947, where she worked as a teller.

“He was won­der­ful,” she said. “He was a gen­tle­man. He was old-school. He was fun. He was po­lite. He was charm­ing. And I fell in love very quickly. He had beau­ti­ful eyes.”

The two went on a group date for Hal­loween, and she spilled a drink on his leg.

“And that was it,” Ms. Gra­ham said.

The two were mar­ried within six months.

“It was a quickie,” his wife said with a laugh.

The cou­ple, who lived in Ocean City for 25 years be­fore mov­ing to the Ti­mo­nium area, were mar­ried for 58 years.

Mr. Hop­kins, who loved to golf, was a long­time mem­ber of the Hil­len­dale Coun­try Club. He was a Bal­ti­more Colts fan and also loved be­ing on the wa­ter.

“He en­joyed boating on the Ch­e­sa­peake Bay,” Ms. Gra­ham said. “He started with a lit­tle mo­tor­boat. His last boat was an Egg Har­bor motor yacht. He just en­joyed go­ing around vis­it­ing Mary­land sites like St. Michaels and An­napo­lis.”

A me­mo­rial Mass will be cel­e­brated at 11 a.m. Dec. 3 at the Church of the Im­mac­u­late Con­cep­tion, 200 Ware Ave. in Tow­son.

In ad­di­tion to his wife and daugh­ter, Mr. Hop­kins is sur­vived by daugh­ters De­bra Bart­gis of Tow­son and Michele Hop­kins of Wash­ing­ton, D.C.; and five grand­chil­dren. Wil­liam H. Hop­kins over­saw more than 100 ma­jor build­ing projects in the Bal­ti­more area, in­clud­ing schools, churches, post of­fices and apart­ment com­plexes.

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