Donald Hopkins

Obituary of Donald Eric Hopkins

Donald Eric Hopkins was born in Schenectady, NY, on 7 June 1931 and died in State College PA on 18 January 2023 at Mt. Nittany Medical Center. He was the son of Grace Eva Steuerwald and Eric William Hopkins. He married Mildred Irene Blanton on May 31, 1955 in Dallas TX.

He was a graduate of Mont Pleasant High School (1949) as valedictorian. He received a BA from the Juilliard School of Music (1954), and an MA from University of Texas in Austin (1958).

Donald is survived by 5 children: Sarah E. Hopkins and wife Ellen A. Roane, of Camp Hill, PA; Michael E. Hopkins and wife Kristin Dougherty of Columbus, OH; Carol G. Kennard and husband John K. Kennard of Centerville, OH; Matthew W. Hopkins and wife Lisa C. Hopkins, of New Freedom, PA; and Abigail H. Floyd and husband Jamaal M. Floyd of State College, PA. Also surviving are 12 grandchildren: Zoe Ling Roane-Hopkins and husband, Logan Staley, Laurel MD, Grace SiLu Roane-Hopkins, Baltimore MD, Brendan Dougherty Hopkins, Columbus, OH, John Andrew Kennard and wife, Emily Bisen-Hersh of Yardley PA, Eric Paul Kennard, Miamisburg OH, Emily Grace Feyock and husband Andrew Feyock, Carnegie PA, Jason Matthew Hopkins, New Freedom PA, Jenna Hopkins Engle and husband Trevor Engle, West Chester PA, Alexander Paul Rivera Hopkins, Katherine Mae Lukens, Sydnee Nicole Royer, and Brayden Jasper Royer, all of State College, PA, and five great grandchildren, Brilynn Marie Dodge, Kaycee Grace Kennard, John Ethan Kennard, Isabella Madison Kennard, and Elyse Meredith Feyock.

In addition to his parents, Donald was predeceased by his three sisters: Gladys E. Fox, Betty I. Heitmann, and Janet G. Moore.

From a musical family, Donald began to play the violin while in the 4th grade, joining the first violin class offered by the public schools in Schenectady. After two years, he continued privately with his teacher, Anthony Stefan. Following high school he studied with Frank Costanzo of the Philadelphia Orchestra, and then enrolled in the Juilliard School where he studied violin with Ronald Murat. He continued his violin studies with Alfredo de St. Malo at the University of Texas. While still a student at Juilliard, he, together with three other Juilliard students, formed a string quartet, later to be named the Alard String Quartet. For an unbroken period between 1954 and 1994, performing with the quartet was the core of his professional life. In 1955 the Alard Quartet won the National Federation of Music Clubs Young Artist's Award. The Quartet's career included concerts performed throughout the United States, Mexico, various European cities, and throughout New Zealand. During its existence, the quartet had the support of educational institutions, starting with the University of Texas, continuing with Wilmington College in Ohio and The University of Canterbury in Christchurch NZ, and finally, for 32 years, with The Pennsylvania State University.

At Penn State, in addition to teaching violin, Donald taught a wide variety of courses, including courses in music theory, music history, music literature, and conducting. He conducted the University Orchestra from 1965 to 1969. During his years at Penn State, the program offerings in music at Penn State transitioned from those of a liberal arts department to those of a fully-fledged school of music, with programs leading to professional degrees in all instruments. Donald took an active part in developing the curricula required, at both the undergraduate and graduate levels, for this development. He also served as the Graduate Officer for the School of Music for the last several years of his tenure.

For 24 years, between 1975 and 1999, Donald organized a summer Chamber Music Workshop for amateurs, teachers, and young professionals, which was offered at Penn State by the Quartet. He served on the board of the Central Pennsylvania Festival of the Arts, as president in 1976. He was conductor of the State College Symphony Orchestra (later the Nittany Valley Symphony) during its formative period.

Donald was a member of St. Andrews Episcopal Church and served in many volunteer jobs throughout his years there. He sang in the choir for many years and served on the Music Committee, during which time a new organ was purchased. Donald and Milly were very involved in Integrity, an Episcopal organization that is dedicated to making the church more welcoming to gays and lesbians.

Memorial contributions should be made to the Music Committee of St. Andrew's Episcopal Church, 208 W. Foster Ave., State College, PA 16801  or the Pollinator & Bird Garden at the Arboretum at Penn State, 336 Forest Resources Bldg. University Park, PA 16802.

Visitation will be at Koch Funeral Home in State College on Friday, Feb. 3, 2023 from 5-7 PM. The Funeral Service will be at St. Andrew's Episcopal Church in State College on Saturday, Feb. 4, 2023 at 11 AM. Donald's ashes will be interred in a Columbarium at the church.

Arrangements are under the care of Koch Funeral Home, State College. Online condolences may be made at

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Memorial Visitation at Funeral Home

5:00 pm - 7:00 pm
Friday, February 3, 2023
Koch Funeral Home
2401 S. Atherton St.
State College, Pennsylvania, United States

Memorial Service

11:00 am
Saturday, February 4, 2023
St. Andrew's Episcopal Church
208 W. Foster Ave.
State College, Pennsylvania, United States
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