Portions of this memoriam were published in the NY Times, SF Chronicle, and Napa Valley Register on August 26, 2018. After reading the text herein, the reader will have a more succinct perspective of Bruce’s exemplary life. We encourage our loved ones, friends, and new visitors to the website to read and access other pages in this website. Subsequently it will be necessary to check back because there will be additional rare, historical jazz photos and memorabilia added.
Contained within the pages on this website are some of the details of the many contributions Bruce offered our world. A dear friend stated: “[Knowing Bruce] was our brush with greatness”. Another loved one shared: “Bruce is the epitome of the Renaissance Man and he did it ‘his way’”. Thank you for your willingness to know more and share your memories of our beloved “Bruce”.
Leo Bruce Hopewell I, and his wife, Ruth Johnston, met at Storer College in West Virginia and were married in 1926. Born from this union were Leo Bruce Hopewell II, Louise and Alan Hopewell. The family settled in Chicago where Leo Sr. attended the University of Chicago premedical school until he demised in 1930. Ruth resettled her family back in her hometown of Easton, PA where she raised their children while working for the U.S. Treasury Department, Washington, DC and the Signal Corps, PA during World War II. Ruth was a gifted classically trained pianist and in great demand. In 1944, Ruth relocated to NYC with her family and went to work at the Department of Taxation and Finances.
Leo Bruce Hopewell II was born in Easton, PA. He attended elementary, junior high and his first year of High school in Easton, PA. Bruce was highlighted in the 1943 Edition of the Easton Express as being an outstanding member of the High School debating team where he made the following statement to the paper:
“I am glad to have the United States as my native land because I am able to enjoy the advantages and privileges of a country whose ideals and standards are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness regardless of race, color or creed. Knowing full well that many of the countries of the world have been enslavedand people are deprived of such privileges that we Americans have, such as freedom of speech, freedom of press and freedom of worship, I am grateful that I am a citizen of the United States. For instance, we have Christmas which has been denied to the children of many foreign countries since the war began. I hope that by next Christmas this war will be over and we can truthfully say peace on earth, good will towards men.”
Bruce was a leader, style setter, had an unlimited view of opportunities in life, an extensive knowledge of musical history especially in Jazz, was an enthusiastic fan and supporter of Track and Field, universal traveler, and life of any party. First and foremost Bruce was always a gentleman to each and every person he met. His comportment was gracious, loving, and kind. Bruce distinguished himself as a producer of world class jazz musicians and tax preparer. He attended the College of New York City, Baruch Division with a degree in Accounting. He completed an Advanced Study at NYU Institute on Federal Taxation.
Bruce remained a unique figure in New York’s cultural life from the time he moved from Easton to Brooklyn during the euphoria of post-World War II America. His neighborhood friends included Randy Weston, Max Roach and a host of other legendary jazz musicians that have been honored as NEA Jazz Masters. He was a beloved member and remained a friend to a whole generation of musicians and artists who helped change American music.Bruce’s achievements are illuminated on his website.
Briefly, Bruce was the Co-Founder of the National Black Network, New York State Delegate and appointee by President Jimmy Carter to the National Advisory Council of Senate Committee on Small Business, chaired by Senator Lowell Weicker (CT), Executive Member of DNC Small Business Council, American Federation of TV and Radio Artists, Founding Sponsor of the MLK, Jr., Memorial, Vice-Chair of Jennifer Muller/The Works Modern Dance Company, a licensed NY State Insurance Broker, member of the James Beard Foundation, and DeGustibus Society. As agourmet cook Bruce enjoyed his friendships withJean-Georges Vongerichtenand Danny Meyer.
A few of Bruce’s jazz accomplishments include: Producer of the Ray Charles Concert featuring Milt Jackson (Avery Fischer Hall, NYC), Festival Director of The First Harlem Jazz Festival, Producer of Jingle Bells & Jazz Concert (Town Hall, NYC) featuring Kenny Burrell and Sylvia Syms, President and Founder of Festival on the River (Staten Island Ferry, NYC), which included 60 various jazz orchestras and jazz groups that performed for over 38,000 from NYC, continental U.S. and visitors from over 30 countries. Some of the jazz luminaries that performed: Thad Jones/Mel Lewis Orchestra, The World’s Greatest Jazz Band, two generations of Brubecks, featuring Dave Brubeck, Earl “Fatha” Hines (Bruce’s god father), Maxine Sullivan, Joe Newman Septet, Chico Hamilton Septet, Robin Kenyatta, Sy Oliver Orchestra, Dorothy Donegan, Charles Mc Pherson Quintet, Junior Mance, Machito Orchestra, Roy Hanes Hip Ensemble, and Wild Bill Davis Trio to name a few.
These successful sailings were recorded by newspaper and jazz journals worldwide, National Television Networks, disc jockeys on dozens of radio stations and The Voice of America; organized “Summer on Wheels” a multiple cultural and jazz program sponsored by NYC Council on the Arts.
Bruce served as Treasurer of St. Peter’s Lutheran Church (NY) and worked with Reverends Gensell and Lind to produce Jazz Vespers. He was a tax consultant and financial advisor for many leading musical artists both past and present such as: Art Farmer, Tommy Flanagan, Ahmad Jamal, Al Hibbler, Dorothy Donegan, Estate of Jimi Hendrix, Kenny Burrell, Teri Thornton, Gloria Lynn, Cedar Walton, Johnny Hartman, Amanda Ambrose, Mirian Makeba, Kenny Dorham, and others.
Bruce is this only person to have presented jazz concerts on the floors of NYSE, AMEX (hosted by The Wall Street Olympic Committee) and awards presentation that included Muhammad Ali, Frank Gifford, Wilma Rudolph and Bruce Jenner.
He was the founder and publisher of a weekly jazz paper,“Jazzbill”, which listed jazz events nationally, in NYC and internationally. As an ardent jazz enthusiast and an intimate friend of many musicians, Bruce has accumulated an impressive record collection reflecting the many changing styles and periods of jazz over the past 60+ years. Everything he did for jazz was a result of his inner necessity, passion, and love for the music. To quote Mr. Hopewell:
“Music has always been one of the most enriching and beautiful enjoyments of my life and it is very rewarding to be able to contribute something of myself to sustaining and enhancing this greatest of artistic expressions.”
A few of Bruce’s contributions when he and his wife relocated to Napa, CA in 2007 include Napa Valley Opera House Board Trustee, a Founder and obtained the 501.c(3) for the Napa Valley Jazz Society. As a family friend and admirer of Ellington, Bruce produced the NVJS Annual Tributes to Duke Ellington.
Presenter | Producer of the Tribute to Miles Davis Concert at the Lincoln Theatre in Yountville, CA featuring dear friend and legendary drummer, Jimmy Cobb. Jimmy is the original member of the Miles Davis album Kind of Blue.
Bruce served as a Road Scholar for The Shedd Institute (OR) sharing his knowledge of legendary Ada “Bricktop” Smith to audiences from around the globe. After being invited by the head of UNESCO, Doreen Chin Huang, to Beijing in 2006, Bruce and Doreen obtained the interpreters for the U.S. Olympic Officials for the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
Wherever jazz musicians were playing, Bruce’s warmth, knowledge and graciousness always made those who played jazz feel that there was someone out there who was actually listening and appreciating what was being created at that moment. Bruce’s generosity of spirit and enthusiasm as well as his support of the art of jazz and those who created it made him a walking encyclopedia for all fortunate to know him as he could talk about his friendships with the giants of jazz from the late 40s until today and how their lives offstage as well when they were performing continue to inspire the world with a set of high standards for whatever any of us choose for our life’s work. His enduring friendships and endless joie de vivre made him a beloved figure during his long life and he will remain alive for all of us fortunate to have known him. Bruce would want to say to each of you: “I love you madly”.
Bruce is survived by the love of his life, wife Mary Hopewell, sister-in-law, Marilyn Hopewell, son Bruce Jr., grandson Ethan, nephews: Marc McDowell and Kris Hopewell, cousin Raymond Johnston Sr., brothers-in-law John Boyles and Bobby Boyles.
Spring and Summer Celebrations of Life information to be held in NYC and Napa can be found on Bruce’s website: www.brucehopewell.com as they become available. Please check back!
Contributions to honor Leo Bruce Hopewell, Sr.can be made to Napa Valley Jazz Society, SF Jazz, Palo Alto Jazz Alliance or CA Jazz Foundation.