MIDDLEBURY — Marie Hopkins, age 75, of Middlebury, died peacefully in her sleep surrounded by those who loved her so very much. She was the beloved wife of Michael Hopkins, as well as a devoted mother, grandmother and cherished sister and faithful friend to so many.
More than 120 of her closest friends and family members gathered together at the Country Club of Waterbury last month to celebrate her life and the gift of her friendship. Even though her health had dramatically declined, Marie courageously found the strength to attend the party and personally thank each and every person in the room for their friendship, their support and their love.
Marie was born on April 12, 1947, in Waterbury, the daughter of the late George and Katherine Barnhardt. Marie loved Waterbury—especially the people of Waterbury. As part of the second graduating class at Blessed Sacrament Grammar School, Marie remained a faithful parishioner at Blessed Sacrament Church, where she and Mike continued to volunteer their time and treasure to support the parish and the major renovations to the church.
Marie graduated from Sacred Heart High School in 1965, where she served as editor of the school newspaper and made friendships that continue today. She had remained very close with many of her Blessed Sacrament and Sacred Heart classmates. Many of them, who have been close friends for more than 60 years, were in attendance at the Country Club to celebrate Marie’s amazing life.
Choosing to become a teacher, Marie attended Central Connecticut State University where she received a bachelor’s degree, and later a master’s degree, in special education. A consummate teacher—ever dedicated to her special students, Marie first taught at Spaulding School in Suffield, and then while Mike served in the U.S. Air Force, she taught at the airbase school in Alabama, and then in Cheyenne, Wyo. Marie returned to teaching locally at Torrington High School.
Marie was named Torrington’s first Teacher of Year while she was a special-education teacher at Torrington High School. Marie later elected to pursue a course in educational administration and graduated from Fairfield University’s program for Educational Leadership.
A much-loved teacher and administrator, Marie served as vice principal at both New Fairfield High School and at Pomperaug High School. She was invited to return to New Fairfield to become the school district’s director of special education.
She retired from public education after serving as the special education director for Region 9, Easton and Redding.
Throughout her years as an administrator, Marie also served as an adjunct professor at the University of Hartford and at Central Connecticut State University. After she retired from the public schools, she was invited to serve as a full-time faculty member at Central Connecticut State University, where she remained until 2019.
Committed to service, Marie served as a volunteer at Waterbury Hospital, was a member and an officer for the Waterbury Junior League, and president of the Alpha Delta Kappa education sorority.
Marie also served on the school board for Blessed Sacrament School, as a parish council member and lector at Blessed Sacrament Church. Marie also served as a board member and secretary of the board of Catholic Charities for 22 years; she was a member of the United Way Educational Council and served on the advisory board of Naugatuck Valley Community College.
Because of her long service to the church, Marie and Mike were selected by the archbishop to become a Dame and Knight of the Holy Sepulcher at a ceremony at St. Patrick’s Cathedral.
Several of the most innovative service projects Marie created still flourish today. For example, to address hunger and homelessness in Waterbury, Marie started “The Sandwich Project” for Blessed Sacrament to support the St. Vincent dePaul Mission. For more than 35 years, each week, hundreds of sandwiches are crafted by Blessed Sacrament parishioners and others and are delivered to St. Vincent dePaul.
The enterprise was featured by the St. Vincent dePaul Mission and was awarded the Father Cascia Award in 2021.
Although Marie’s career accomplishments are many, her greatest accomplishment would have to be the legacy of love and friendship she leaves. In a world that has become so divided, Marie was always able to bring people together. In her quiet way, she made the world a better place. Most of us cannot imagine a world without her.
At her Country Club party last month, Marie said that her sister Joan “turned her life upside down” almost two years ago to help her deal with the logistics of the appointments and multiple surgeries once the dreaded diagnosis arrived. Joan joined a team of faithful friends and relatives committed to helping Marie navigate the demands of treatment and recovery.
The entire family is indebted to these incredible “partners in care” because we were all able to enjoy Marie’s being here for just a bit longer because of their help. If only it could have been just a little longer.
Marie leaves behind Mike, her beloved husband of 52 years, along with their son Seth, and his wife Liz, and her adored grandchildren, Ali and Will. She also leaves behind her two sisters, Joan Cagginello (Bill) and Anne Hendershott (Dana); as well as a number of cousins with whom she was quite close, nieces, nephews and the many friends who brought so much to her wonderful life.
Funeral services for Mrs. Hopkins were to be Tuesday, Jan. 10, 2023, at 10 a.m. at Blessed Sacrament Church, 182 Robbins St., Waterbury. Burial was to be private and at the convenience of her family. Relatives and friends were to visit with Marie’s family on Monday, Jan. 9, 2023, from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. at Casey’s Eastside Memorial Funeral Home and Cremation Care, 1987 E. Main St., Waterbury.
Casey Funeral Homes and Cremation Care has been honored to care for Marie and her family during this difficult time.
In lieu of flowers and to honor Marie’s memory, memorial contributions to the Catholic Charities Archdiocese of Hartford, CT, 839-841 Asylum Ave., Hartford, CT 06105, would be greatly appreciated.
Loving kindness is always welcome, and it only takes a moment to offer a message of condolence and share a memory or words of comfort with the family and friends of someone that was important to you.
Please visit the funeral home tribute page at caseyfunerals.com to write a message.