Death Notices & Obituaries

Albert Hopkins


HOPKINS, Jr. ALBERT LAFAYETTE May 6, 1931 - May 17, 2016 Palm Coast, FL: Albert L. Hopkins, Jr., of Danbury, NH, and Palm Coast, died on May 17th, 2016, at the Stuart F. Meyer Hospice House here. He was the son of the late Albert L. Hopkins, Sr., of Chicago, IL, and Florence (Odil) Hopkins, originally of Nashville, TN. The senior Hopkins was a prominent attorney and founding partner of the firm Hopkins Sutter. Dr. Hopkins was born in Chicago on May 6th, 1931. He was raised in the city, completing his primary education at the Laboratory School of the University of Chicago, of which his father was a founding donor. The younger Hopkins completed his secondary education at Phillips Exeter Academy, in New Hampshire. He went on to do his undergraduate work at Harvard University, from which he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Engineering. A gifted mathematician, Albert Hopkins, Jr., continued at Harvard earning both his Masters and PhD at the Harvard Computational Laboratory. There he studied under the legendary Howard Aiken, considered by many as the Father of Digital Computing in America. Hopkins served as an instructor of Mathematics at Harvard and, later, as an Assistant Professor of Aeronautics and Astronautics at MIT. In 1960 Albert Hopkins joined the MIT Instrumentation Laboratory, later known as the Draper Lab, where he was a colleague of Dr. Charles Stark Draper. At the lab Albert worked in the Digital Development Group, under Eldon C. Hall. His team members there included Ramon Alonso, Alan Green, and Hugh Blair-Smith, among many other pioneers of digital computing. In this capacity Dr. Hopkins was a key member of the team that was awarded and then completed the contract with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) to design and execute the Apollo navigation program. Hopkins, by this time an expert in planetary motion, was in charge of guiding the Apollo spacecraft from the Earth to the Moon, and back. With Ramon, he designed and hand built the prototype Guidance and Navigation Computer (G&NC) used to perform that critical task. It should be remembered that digital electronics in the early 1960’s bore little relation to the advanced IT science of today. Not only was Albert Hopkins’ team at Draper Lab confined to the use of core memory, but they were also limited by the amount of space, the shape of that space, and the weight they would be allowed to put aboard the Command Module. Having designed the hardware it also fell to Hopkins to devise and write both the Operating System and Input / Output Language it would use to make the roughly 240,000 mile voyage with a course deviation of under one tenth of one percent. Today it is all too easy an analysis to reckon that the Apollo’s digital Systems were as a silk Tell-Tail on the flying wires of an early bi-plane when compared to those of a modern glass-paneled airliner. In the 1960’s, though, it took real courage of one’s convictions to clear those early systems for flight, much less to fly them to the Moon and back. Following the unqualified success of the Apollo Program, Albert Hopkins remained at the Draper Lab for long enough to perform some of the earliest work on Fault Tolerant computer systems and computer controlled machining centers for clients such as Fiat. After his tenure at MIT, Hopkins joined with two other colleagues to form a private consulting practice known as ITP Computing. With his first wife, the late Bess (House) Hopkins, he is the father of four grown children and now six grandchildren. He was also married to Ellen (Berger) Hopkins. In 1980 Albert married Lynne Zaccaria. Following his retirement from ITP the Hopkins’ moved to Danbury, NH, and set about learning the craft of pottery making. Together they opened The Danbury Pottery in 1989. The business was the source of custom crockery for inns and restaurants in the Lakes Region and the Mt. Washington Valley of New Hampshire until the couple closed it in 2009. Ever restless to take on new challenges, Albert decided to build the couple a home on the property they shared with Lynne’s family. In typical fashion he taught himself the basics of Post & Beam construction and with the help of family members cut timber on the property and hewed it into beams using a combination of chain saws and Yankee Ingenuity. The result was a new barn and a custom designed year-round abode for the aspiring potters. In 2003, while wintering in Palm Coast, Dr. Hopkins presented with symptoms of Multiple Myeloma. He ultimately sought treatment at the Myeloma Institute of the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences. Under the care of then Director Dr. Bart Barlogie, MD, PhD, Albert Hopkins faced the challenge to his health as he had always faced all other challenges. After study and on-going treatment he was successful in holding off the ravages of the disease for far longer than the statistical average. His death, thirteen years later, was finally the result of complications associated with Myeloma. He could not have persevered for that time without the consultation and medical skills, in chronological order, of Dr. Becki Melton, MD, of Palm Coast; Bonnie Jenkins, RN; Nadine Baxter, APN; Dr. Giampaolo Talamo,MD; Mary Hickman, RN; and all the nurses and APN’s of the Myeloma Institute. He also owes a debt of gratitude to Dr. Paul Dodd, MD, and his associates Dr. Kathleen B. Doughney, MD; Dr. Christopher Alexander, DO; and the entire professional staff of the Florida Cancer Specialists. Dr. Hopkins was a member of the institute for electrical and electronic engineers Hhewas also a Fellowof the American Association for the Advancement of Science, He was the author of numerous technical articles on subjects ranging from Theoretical Mathematics to the practical application of digital computing power to the problems faced by a 21st Century world. He and his wife are major contributors to the Myeloma Institute, the South Danbury Christian Church, and fittingly the Stuart F. Meyer Hospice House. He is survived by his wife, Lynne Zaccaria Hopkins. He also leaves his children Terry Hopkins and his wife Mandy, of Winchester UK, Tom Hopkins, of New York City, Jay Hopkins, of Hyannis, MA, and Sarah Hopkins Samore, of Salt Lake City. He was the beloved brother of his late sister Catharine and her late husband, David Ruml. He was also the beloved brother of Nancy Hopkins Gerson, 92, and her husband Isak Gerson, of Chicago. He leaves nieces and nephews David J. Ruml and Elizabeth Hopkins Ruml, both of South Strafford, VT, and Susan Haskins and her husband Steven Dolloff of New York City, and the late Amy Gerson, of Chicago. He was the beloved grandfather of Benjamin Hopkins, of Los Angeles; Rebecca and Marina Hopkins of London; Theodore Samore, of Los Angeles; Samuel Samore, of Salt Lake City, and Eliza Samore, also of Salt Lake City. He will be remembered for his integrity, honesty, wit, humor, sincerity, charm, his love of playing piano, classical and folk guitar, and for his love of gardening. He is mourned by friends and associates around the world. ---------------------------------------- Arrangements are being managed by Chadwick Funeral Home, New London, NH. In Lieu of flowers the family asks that donations be made in Albert’s Name to the Danbury Community Center, Danbury, NH, 03230. A Funeral Service will be held on Sunday, May 22, 2016 at 1.00 P.M. at the Chadwick Funeral Home, 235 Main Street, New London, NH. Burial will follow in Riverdale Cemetery, Danbury, NH.



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