Hopper Endowment to benefit Library and Music

December 7, 1999 - 4:00pm

One of the Nanaimo business community’s most familiar names will now also be remembered through a new endowment fund at Malaspina University-College.

Mrs Shirley Birrell, formerly Shirley Hopper, who, with her late husband Alec operated Hopper’s Jewelry store on Commercial Street for more than 40 years, has created the Alec and Shirley Hopper Endowment Fund.  It will benefit Malaspina’s central Library and the Music department and was created with the gift of an insurance policy.

“We were able to run a successful business through the patronage of the community, and would like to be able to give something back for future generations,” explained Mrs. Birrell. “I know in my heart that Alec would be happy to see this endowment created.”

Alec and Shirley met during World War Two and were married in Nanaimo upon Alec’s return from the war. Together they took over a jewelry and watchmaking business on Commercial Street in 1947. They built it up over the next 20 years, and eventually moved across the street and expanded into the present location, which is now owned by their son Ron Hopper. Shirley retired from the business soon after Alec’s death in 1987.

Both have been lifetime volunteers and members of local service organizations. Alec was a longtime member of the Nanaimo Doric Masonic Lodge as well as the Kiwanis (Noon) Club, at one time serving as Lieutenant-Governor. He was also an energetic supporter and promoter of a better downtown through the Downtown Merchants Association.

Shirley is a 50-year member of the Nanaimo Order of the Eastern Star, Lodge 43, has been President of the Nanaimo Soroptimist Club, and is a member of the Ladies Kiwanis Club. She has had a lifetime love of music, and is a member of the Nanaimo Musical Club. She has been a soprano soloist for the Christmas and Easter performances of the Messiah at the Haliburton United Church.

She and her husband Mr. David Birrell, a retired engineer, share concerns for underprivileged and orphaned children abroad with support for several missions.

“This is a very generous and imaginative gift, that will benefit Malaspina University-College and the community for generations to come,” said Roger McKinnon, Chair of the Malaspina University-College Foundation. “We were very pleased to be able to create a lasting memorial for a family which has been an integral part of Nanaimo for such a long time.”



Contact: Roger Prior, (250) 740-6212.

Tags: In the Community

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