Court of Queen’s Bench of Alberta Justice John William (Bill) Hopkins was a compassionate and respectful judge, a friend who was always willing to lend a hand and, above all else, a loving family man.
Justice Hopkins, who passed away suddenly on May 23, 2021, at the age of 63, leaves behind his wife Sharon, their two sons Drew and Shane and granddaughter Beau.
Court of Queen’s Bench Chief Justice Mary Moreau delivered the tragic news to the shocked and extremely saddened members of the Court.
“Our heartfelt condolences go to Bill's wife Sharon and the Hopkins family. Bill was a kind-hearted, gentle person with a ready smile and a strong love of life and his family,” said Chief Justice Moreau. “He treated litigants with dignity and compassion. Bill will be sorely missed by his many friends and colleagues in all parts of the province.”
Justice Dallas Miller, the QB supervising judge in Lethbridge, knew Justice Hopkins since the mid-1980s when they practiced law together in Medicine Hat.
“Bill was a first-class lawyer and judge. Everyone loved Bill, he was collegial, worked hard and was always willing to help in any way he could,” said Justice Miller. “He will be missed by the Court across the province and the practicing Bar.”
Justice Hopkins, who lived in the Rocky Mountain House area, was appointed to the Court of Queen's Bench on June 26, 2015, and sat mainly in Red Deer.
Until his appointment, Justice Hopkins had been in-house counsel with Chatters Canada Ltd. Previously, he had been a sole practioner from May 2013 to May 2014; partner with Woollard Hopkins & Company from 1991 to 2013, and an associate from 1988 to 1991. Before that, he articled and practiced with Gordon Smith and McCrimmon in Medicine Hat from 1986 to 1988.
He practiced primarily in the areas of matrimonial and real estate law and wills and estates. Prior to his appointment, he had been a member of the Canadian Bar Association, the Alberta Civil Trial Lawyers Association and the Central Alberta Collaborative Lawyers Association.
Justice Hopkins received a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from the University of Calgary in 1981 and a Bachelor of Laws in 1986 from the University of Ottawa in 1986. He was admitted to the Alberta Bar in 1987.
According to Justice Hopkins’ obituary notice, he was born to parents Maria and Percy John Hopkins (Benner) in Calgary on April 15, 1958. He enjoyed a happy childhood there and had fond memories of his adventures and misadventures with his friends and family. He highly valued the relationships he built with his family and friends, maintaining lifelong bonds with a number of them.
In 1979, Justice Hopkins met the love of his life, Sharon, and they were married in 1980.
The most important thing to the late Justice was his family and he loved spending time with Sharon, Drew and Shane as well as his extended family and those he came to consider family, says the obituary. He felt blessed every day and cherished every moment at the home he and Sharon built together. He would do anything for his family and they were his number one priority.
The Hopkins went on numerous memorable road trips that included stops across North America. Reno, Nevada became an annual destination where the family enjoyed time in the sun and long games of name that tune featuring classic rock music where Justice Hopkins remained undefeated.
He was someone who was quick to smile, laugh, lend a helping hand and endless support, says the obituary. He enjoyed inviting family and friends, new and old, to come share a conversation, coffee, glass of wine and a card game or two at his table or around the fire. He offered sound advice and learned opinions to those who asked and a listening ear to those who needed it.
Justice Hopkins will forever be remembered for being a loving Husband, Father and incredible Grandpa, as well as a sound confidant and loyal friend and a respected and valued colleague.
May he rest in peace.