Hopper, Sally H.

Written by Linda Kirkpatrick on .


Hopper, Sally H.

(1934 - )

Sally Hunter was born in Dayton, Kentucky to a pastor in the Episcopal church. The family experienced several moves – to Louisville, Kentucky; San Antonio, Texas; and then Laramie, Wyoming where her father was named the Episcopal Bishop of the state.

She graduated from the University of Wyoming in 1956 and married George W. Hopper. When he accepted a job as an attorney with the Securities and Exchange Commission in 1960, they relocated to Colorado – first Broomfield and later Lookout Mountain – and had four daughters who attended Jefferson County schools.

Sally was involved with the girls’ activities growing up, active in the PTA groups and as a Girl Scout leader for years. She was also active in the St. James Episcopal Church in Wheat Ridge.

She served as a Republican precinct chairman and helped numerous candidates get elected. When an open seat for the Colorado Senate came up (no incumbent running), Sally was convinced she should run to fill it. The candidates she’d help get elected did the same for her, and she received enough votes to represent seven counties in Colorado: Pitkin, Eagle, Summit, Clear Creek, Gilpin and the mountainous portions of Boulder and Jefferson Counties, including Evergreen.

While campaigning, her husband of 29 years died after a short illness, just three months before the election. “He didn’t want me to drop out, and being elected to serve a large district proved to be a valuable diversion,” she said.

When elected, she was one of just five women in the thirty-five-member Senate body. “A lot [of the Senators] were not used to working with women in the legislature,” she said, but they just “thought of me as another guy.”

Covering seven counties took a lot of energy, she admitted, but “it was wonderful for me.” The district was comprised of small communities – “a treat for me because I could meet a lot of people. I met the leaders over and over and got to know the issues.” She subscribed to the 21 local newspapers representing those counties, knowing her constituents read the newsweeklies, allowing her to keep in touch.

She served three terms in the State Senate from 1987 to 1999, retiring because of term limits. Among her accomplishments, she was Chairman of the committee on Health, Environment, Welfare and Institutions (1989-99). She was a member of Criminal Justice Commission – formed in 1993 after the “Summer of Violence” – for its duration (and Chairman for a time). Among other legislation carried, she was the Senate sponsor of the Child Health Plan, which provides insurance coverage for children of working parents who do not qualify for employer-provided health insurance or Medicaid.

Since retirement she has served on more than a dozen boards, including the George W. Hopper Family Foundation, formed by Sally and her four daughters to support programs serving middle school age girls, an age that’s often overlooked and needing help with self-esteem, she points out.

Other boards include: the Rose Foundation, Historic Georgetown, Inc., Colorado Preservation, Inc., Colorado Independent Ethics Commission, Board of Advisors to National Trust for Historic Preservation, Partners for Access to the Woods – devoted to accessibility for the disabled.

Source:  Interview with Sally Hopper