Clyde Hopkins: A Fond Look Back

Note: Almost four months ago, Hopkins PR’s agency founder Clyde Hopkins passed away at 79. Barbara Hyman spoke at his memorial service in Austin, and the following post is adapted from her comments.

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Clyde hired me when I moved to Dallas in 1980. He had just landed the Anheuser-Busch account for the state of Texas, and he needed an account executive. Later I would tell him he hired me, because he liked the idea of a woman promoting Budweiser. He would tell me I was the best candidate for the job. Either way… I came on board and never left.

We worked together daily for almost 30 years. He was my mentor and my friend. He was my champion, somebody who always believed in me, even when I didn’t believe in myself.

Clyde taught me and many others the art of public relations, and his lessons have weathered the years. In the early ‘80s, for example, Clyde would convene media roundtables right after OPEC met, so reporters could hear what his stockbroker clients had to say about OPEC’s decisions and their impact on the markets. Just recently I coordinated my own roundtable for a financial client to share their views on renewable energy with interested media. Clyde’s creative technique is still working — a quarter-century later.

His career spanned amazing changes in technology that he fully embraced. Clyde sat me at a desk with a manual typewriter when I started at the firm. Then, when Apple came on the scene, he introduced Apple IIes and later Macintoshes to our staff. He researched, bought, set up and troubleshot our computers himself. He got us connected to the internet. He loved it! He was so smart – and the rapid changes in technology engaged his inquisitive mind. When he retired, we re-named the closet with router and phone system, and all the cables and wires, The Clyde L. Hopkins Technology Center.

Clyde had hundreds of stories about his experiences in New York and Dallas, and he shared them freely… like the time he was late to pick up Coco Chanel for an interview. She told him frostily in French-accented English that he needed to find another line of work.

Or when KRLD called at 4:30 a.m. to confirm that one Guy Marble worked for him at Harshe-Rotman and Druck, because Guy had just been arrested as Dallas’ Friendly Rapist. “I wondered why we could never find Guy in the office during afternoons,” Clyde said.

Or when he trailed a reporter prone to leaving Dallas City Council meetings at inopportune times. Clyde followed him to Sanger Harris and at just the right time, tapped the guy on the shoulder and suggested he get back to the meeting, because there was about to be a vote on a new downtown complex. The complex was the new Reunion Arena — Clyde’s client — and he wanted a story about it.

Clyde was a most generous boss. In 30 years I never had a formal performance review, probably because he was more interested in doing the work than sitting around talking about it. But I did get frequent raises and on the occasion of my 10th anniversary, Clyde gave me a bonus that made me gasp, along with this note: “Neither my pocketbook nor my imagination are deep enough to demonstrate what your presence has meant to me and the agency.”

As you can imagine, the outpouring of sadness and fond memories has been overwhelming. Here are just some of those emailed comments from former staff members of Hopkins PR:

“He gave me my first good job in Dallas, and for that I will always be grateful. My impression of Clyde, from the first day I met him, was that of an honest man who believed the best way to serve his clients and his business was by following a strict code of ethics which would not allow him to lie to his clients or tell lies for them.”

“I’m confident he’s in a place where everyone gets grammar and punctuation right.”

“He was indeed an amazing man. He took a chance on me, introduced me to creme brûlée, and taught me work/life balance, before I truly understood it.”

And this… in many, many emails from people whose lives he touched: “He was a good man.”

For me personally, Clyde’s presence in my life was profound. I count Clyde, my dad, and Robert, my significant other of 43 years, as the three most important men in my life. Clyde knew that, because I told him. I am grateful for his mentorship, his friendship, his caring, his support.

I miss him.

 

Hopkins PR is a public relations firm with headquarters in Dallas.  We can do everything from crisis communications to media training to traditional media relations. We focus on “Texas PR by Texans in Texas.”

 

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