(Sept. 14, 1925 – May 27, 2017)
Burchell E. Hopkin, Powell area resident for more than 91 years, died peacefully on May 27, 2017, at Powell Valley Care Center where he had been a resident for five weeks.
He was born Sept. 14, 1925, in Penrose, to Fred W. and Elizabeth Hopkin, the fifth in a family of six children.
He attended Powell schools with the class of ‘43 and was a good student even though he had to arise early to help with the milking before catching the bus at 8 a.m. He was interested especially in the Agriculture classes taught by Pete Peterson and had a lifelong interest in farming and livestock.
In 1943, with WWII in full force, he enlisted in the Army Air Corps at the age of 18. He received training at Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska, Amarillo, Texas and Marfa, Texas, where he graduated from pilot training in May 1945 and was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant. He received further training in California and Tucson, Arizona. Burchell made many friends during this time and kept in touch with some until the time of his death.
When the war ended, he received an honorable discharge in 1946 and returned to the family farm in Penrose. He was proud of his military service and while he was ready and willing to fight for his country, he felt fortunate that he never saw combat.
After being home from the Air Corps for a year, he accepted a call to serve as a missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints in the British Mission for two years. He enjoyed the experience of being in a new country and meeting new people but was happy to be back home again in 1949.
On June 17, 1949, he and Ruby Lynn were married in the Idaho Falls LDS Temple, a marriage that lasted more than 67 years. They had known each other at school and church several years earlier and had corresponded during his Army career and mission. He and Ruby attended BYU for a year and when Burchell had a chance to buy a farm in Penrose in 1951, they returned to farm life instead of college. In the following years he was able to include into his farming operation the land where his family had lived, making him the third generation to own the land.
During the 61 years they lived on the Penrose farm, six children were born to them: Heather, Lynn, Julie, Ross, Fred and Mark. They all attended Powell schools and helped on the farm. Burchell taught them family values and the merits of honest work.
Burchell was known for his sense of humor and was often called upon to emcee at community and church activities. He was also a favored speaker at funerals for many years.
He loved the history of the Big Horn Basin and his pioneer ancestors and was called on to recall events and people he knew about. He will be missed as a resource of these facts.
He loved the land and farming where his family had lived and was known as a good farmer, earning recognition as a Top Ten Sugar Beet Grower, Certified Seed Producer and as Entrepreneur of the Year by the Chamber of Commerce in 1998, when he introduced alfalfa seed production as a major crop in our area.
He served on several community boards, most recently on the Homesteader Museum Board for 21 years and was honored at their annual meeting April 1, 2017.
He was a faithful member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and served as a teacher and leader for many years. He left a legacy of honesty, loving kindness and service to many.
He was preceded in death by his parents, siblings Mary Simian, Fay Smith, Fred W. Hopkin, Zona Roper, Whitey Hopkin and daughter Julie Aagard, her husband Rick and son Andy Aagard.
Burchell is survived by his wife Ruby; daughters Heather Wharton (David) of Las Vegas and Lynn Bennion (Dan) of Powell; sons Ross Hopkin (Karren) of No. Salt Lake, Utah, Fred (Carrie) of Powell, Mark (Karen) of Eagle River, Alaska, sister-in-law Alyce Hopkin; 26 grandchildren and 50 great-grandchildren.
A viewing will be held Thursday June 1 at Thompson Funeral Home from 6-7:30 p.m. Funeral services will be held Friday, June 2, at 10 a.m. at the LDS Church on Avenue E.
Memorials may be made to the Northwest College Foundation or Homesteader Museum.