by Henry Lane Hull
Righteousness was the hallmark of the life of Earl Hooper, who died last week at the age of 78. Earl was a native of Northumberland County where his roots ran deep and where he was formed as a genuine son of the Northern Neck. He was a person whose honesty and integrity were utterly transparent to all who encountered him in whatever venue. To know him was to respect him.
Most individuals who knew him called Earl by his nickname, “Yankee,” but when I first met him over three decades ago and asked his name, he replied, “Earl,” and thus he has remained ever since for our family. His interests were manifold, ranging from all aspects of mechanics and electronics to understanding the discipline of Mother Nature, whose bounty in producing expansive green carpets of grass he liked to manage and direct.
Over the years Earl built up a wide circle of clients who engaged him to mow their lawns and landscape their properties. The yard of the home where he and Maxine Carter lived was his finest advertisement, situated on a slight knoll on Route 200, where the lawn was Earl’s work of art. I liked to joke with him, saying that when I drove past his home, I could count less than five blades of grass that were not at regulation height. During the growing season, when not working on his clients’ properties, he could be seen fastidiously working on his own patch of greenery.
All forms of automotive travel were of interest to Earl. He was an encyclopedia of knowledge about any engine-driven vehicle, as well as with every form of yard machine. He understood mechanics as few people do and as one not gifted in that arena, I remained awestruck by the profundity of his comprehension of mechanical subjects. Along with his other friends I knew I could ask Earl any question and receive the right answer to my concerns.
Motorcycles were one of Earl’s true passions in life. He liked to ride in the open air, enjoying the beauties of nature as he proceeded along the highways and byways. His motorcycle provided Earl with another means of communing with nature, as vividly seen in the video on his life that was produced by his son, Anthony.
In all that he did, all that he experienced and all that he valued, for Earl everything had to be right. He kept an extraordinarily neat goatee, and always was impeccably dressed whether in casual or formal attire. For his sojourn on this planet all aspects of his life had to be neat and they were.
Many years ago he suddenly lost his young daughter in a bizarre mishap, the grief from which naturally remained with him until he died, but which he accepted as the good person he was. Years later after a major heart attack, he faced extremely serious open-heart surgery from which he optimistically recovered, and did not let what he had faced alter his wonderful personality, which uniformly he directed towards others. Thereafter he reduced his workload, but by no means retired.
Earl was a man of great composure and equanimity, observing the passing scene with well-reasoned, pithy comments, and never letting worldly vicissitudes alter his deep-seated optimism that indeed life was good. In significant measure, the successes of Earl’s life may be attributed to the twofold qualities he manifested, perhaps best described by the Younger B.E. with the words, “He was a wildly good listener and always entered the room with a smile.”
In every manner of his life Earl was truly a righteous man.
Earl Harvey “Yankee” Hooper, September 17, 1940 – April 9, 2019. R.I.P.