Tim Hopkins, one of the nation's top attorneys and one of Idaho Falls' most civic-minded residents, died Friday at the age of 85.
Hopkins, who still regularly worked six- and seven-hour days at the law firm he founded nearly 50 years ago, stayed home from work Friday because he wasn't feeling well, said Ammon Mayor Sean Coletti, a partner at Hopkins Roden Crockett Hansen & Hoopes, where Hopkins was his mentor and friend. Hopkins died early Friday evening.
News of his death shocked many in Idaho Falls where Hopkins was a pillar of civic engagement, devoting time to causes ranging from the arts to wildlands preservation.
"It was quite sudden. There was no reason to think it would happen," Coletti said of Hopkins' passing.
Greg Crockett, the law firm's managing partner, worked with Hopkins for 47 years.
"He was my professional mentor and my cherished friend," Crockett said.
An Idaho Falls native, Hopkins graduated from Stanford University before earning his law degree with honors from the George Washington University Law School in 1963.
Crockett described his friend as "one of the finest lawyers of our time and one of the greatest public citizens of our time."
Hopkins' personal and professional accolades are practically too long to list and his legacy in both realms will live on for decades.
Crockett said that through Hopkins' work with what was known as the Snake River Coalition he was instrumental in putting land in the Snake River Canyon from Conant to Heise into public conservation easement, helping to protect access to one of the nation's top blue-ribbon trout fisheries.
"A lot of credit for that goes to Tim's first-hand involvement," Crockett said.
An avid outdoorsman, Hopkins was a horseman, bird hunter and fly-fisherman. He also enjoyed both downhill and cross-country skiing. He served as chairman of The Nature Conservancy of Idaho and as president of the board of the Teton Regional Land Trust.
Crockett said Hopkins took particular pride in being a founder of the Idaho Falls City Club. Hopkins was also a former president of the United Way of Idaho Falls and Bonneville County Inc., the Idaho Falls Rotary Club and the Greater Idaho Falls Chamber of Commerce.
"The list goes on and on," Crockett said. "There's not a thing in the community he hasn't accomplished."
Despite practicing law in small-town Idaho, Hopkins had a national reputation and influence. He served on a number of American Bar Association committees, and was chairman of its Standing Committee on the Federal Judiciary, which played a prominent role in the selection of many federal judges, Crockett said.
Hopkins' practice ran the gamut — from land-use and water rights issues to legislative redistricting. Crockett described his longtime friend and partner as the state's preeminent appellate lawyer and noted that Hopkins argued more than 35 cases before the Idaho Supreme Court.
"He was very much the peoples' lawyer," Crockett said.
Coletti admired at his mentor's continued involvement in the law firm until the end of his life.
"He told me 12 or 13 years ago that the law was what he really felt passionate about," Coletti said. "He said he didn't want to retire because he enjoyed helping people and he enjoyed the intellectual rigor of the law practice. It kept him vibrant. He was so wise, so sharp."
Coletti, who spent eight years on Ammon's city council before being elected mayor in 2017, said Hopkins' passion and advocacy for public service inspired him to seek office.
"A lot of the reason I decided to run for mayor was that Tim really encouraged everyone in the office to actively serve the community," Coletti said. "Service was a very important part of his life."
Hopkins is survived by his wife, Anne, daughters Kate and Hilary and son Ted.