William B. Hopkins Sr., a longtime Roanoke lawyer who spent 20 years in the Virginia Senate, died Dec. 11. He was 90.
A native of Rocky Mount, Sen. Hopkins left Washington and Lee University during his senior year after Pearl Harbor to join the U.S. Marines, where he saw combat in the Pacific theater. As a member of the Marine Reserves, he served in the Korean War.
Between the wars he finished his undergraduate education and earned a law degree from the University of Virginia law school.
Practicing in Roanoke after the wars, he became active in Democratic party politics. He was elected to the Virginia Senate, where he served from 1960 to 1980. He was majority leader the last four years.
Sen. Hopkins chaired a state commission, known as the Hopkins Commission, that helped set the stage for reorganization and modernization of the Virginia state government in the 1970s.
He was one of the founders of Roanoke’s Center in the Square and worked to get state funding to support it. The planetarium at the Science Museum of Western Virginia is named for him.
Sen. Hopkins wrote two books — “One Bugle, No Drums: The Marines at Chosin Reservoir” (1986) and “The Pacific War: The Strategy, Politics, and Players that Won the War” (2009).
He was preceded in death by Virginia George Hopkins, his wife of 62 years. Survivors include his five children, Dabney Hopkins, of Durham, N.C.; Sarah Finley of Richmond; Bill Hopkins of Roanoke; Carter Hopkins of Franklin County; and Marshall Martin of Richmond; five grandchildren and two step-grandchildren.