James Martin Hopper, 78, of Little Rock, passed away June 25, 2013. He was born Jan. 31, 1934, in Leola to Pete and Lucille Hopper, the superintendent of schools and the postmaster.
James grew up in Leola and in Bauxite, graduating from Bauxite High School in 1951. In 1955, while still working on his BSChE degree, he joined the University of Arkansas Industrial Research Center in Little Rock, producing plant location studies for use by the then new Arkansas Industrial Development Commission. He achieved a Master of Business Administration degree in 1960 from the University of Chicago school of Business. In 1957, James attended the University of Arkansas School of Engineering, earning a Bachelor of Science degree in Chemical Engineering.
From 1956 to 1959, he was an industrial specialist at University of Arkansas Industrial Research Center. He conducted plant location studies in support of Winthrop Rockefeller’s Arkansas Industrial Development Commission. In 1960, James earned an MBA at the University of Chicago, joining W.R. Grace and Company in Cambridge, Mass., as a sales engineer for rubber container sealing compounds, and later as product manager for meteorological balloons and the anesthetic gas absorbent, Sodasorb.
From 1968 to 1971, he was affiliated with the Harvard University Graduate School of Education. He was assistant to the dean and director of development, funding the building of the Monroe Gutman Library; brought about substantial increases in the Alumni Fund and joined the dean in the annual solicitation of David Rockefeller.
In 1968, after a six-month stint of volunteer trail work in western national parks with the Sierra Club, James was appointed assistant to the dean of the Harvard University Graduate School of Education, directing a program to secure funds to build a major new library building. He also served on the board of directors of the Appalachian Mountain Club and wrote the successful proposal for funding construction of the club’s landmark, Joe Dodge Lodge, in Pinkham Notch, N.H.
In 1972, after a summer running backpacking trips for the AMC in the Grand Canyon, Yosemite, and Hawaii, he returned to the University of Chicago GSB as assistant dean and later as associate dean. He was assigned to manage the financing of a plant raising the standing of the school among its peers. The high point of his career came with two articles published within a week of each other. The Wall Street Journal story was headlined “Chicago School is Number One,” and the New York Times led with “Chicago School Goes to the Head of the Class.”
From 1973 to date, James was director of advancement associates, with client and pro bono public work with numerous institutions, including the American Association of Graduate Schools of Business Deans Group, the Thunderbird Graduate School of International Business; the University of California-Davis, Graduate School of Business; the foundation of one of the service academies, and the Appalachian Mountain Club.
In 1985, Clark University of Worcester, Mass., recruited James, where he served as vice president for eight years, leading Clark’s first successful multimillion-dollar fundraising campaign. He also served on the development board of the Worcester Horticultural Society and the Tower Hill Arboretum.
From 1987 to date, James owned two certified tree farms totaling about 200 acres of Loblolly Pines.
James became senior vice president of the Audubon Nature Institute (a private foundation operating a number of New Orleans institutions, including the Audubon Zoo, the Aquarium of the Americas, the Moonwalk, Woldenberg Park, and Audubon Park) in 1992. He successfully directed its first multimillion-dollar campaign, including a large-animal hospital and an IMAX theater.
James retired in 1994 and after a few years returned to Arkansas, moving to Hot Springs, and then Little Rock. His personal interest are his six bicycles, chalking up rides across Utah, Colorado, Missouri, Arkansas and the South Island of new Zealand; and his tree farms.
He was affiliated with the Arkansas Academy of Chemical Engineers, numerous conservation, forestry, mountain biking, and bicycling organizations. He was former director of Appalachian Mountain Club in Massachusetts,YMCA of Worcester, Mass., Tower Hill Arboretum in Massachusetts, and civic improvement associations in Dune Acres, Ind., and Diamondhead, Ark.
James was preceded in death by his parents; and his brother, Bruce Hopper.
He is survived by special friends, A.C. and Linda Paxton of Benton and Michael Saunders of Little Rock; and a cousin, Joie Nutt of Little Rock.
A graveside service will be held at 10 a.m. Saturday, June 29. at Leola Cemetery in Leola with A.C. Paxton officiating. Arrangements are by Ashby Funeral Home.
Visitation will be held from 6 to 8 p.m. Friday, June 28, at Ashby Funeral Home.
Memorials may be made to the Arkansas Audubon Society, 4500 Springer Blvd., Little Rock, AR 72206.
Online guest book: www.ashbyfuneralhome.com .