Man gives large sum to small town

By Abigail Curtis, BDN Staff
Posted March 27, 2009, at 11:36 p.m.

SOUTH THOMASTON, Maine — Though Randall and Arlene Hopkins had no children, residents of this tiny town say the couple’s legacy — and memory — will live on for many years to come.

After Randall Hopkins died one year ago, his neighbors were stunned to learn exactly how much the 97-year-old retired lobsterman had valued his town.

In his will, Hopkins left $100,000 to create a scholarship fund for local students, $30,000 for the ambulance fund, $30,000 to purchase books and equipment for the library, and $100,000 to be split between the preservation of the Little Red Schoolhouse as the public library and for the general use of the historical society.

“I think he was proud of the little village and he wanted to make a contribution back,” said Chuck Hartman, president of the South Thomaston Historical Society.

Next week, residents will vote at the annual town meeting whether to accept the $100,000 library and historical society bequests — the size of which dwarfs the library’s regular annual budget of $1,525.

“It was an overwhelmingly grateful feeling, to think that they were able to do that for their town,” said Penelope Alley, town selectman. “It was an incredibly wonderful surprise to us. I’ve been a selectman for 10 years and in that time we’ve never had any bequests even close to that come to the town.”

Alley said that Arlene Hopkins had worked as a teacher and principal at the Little Red Schoolhouse, which now serves as the town library. The library is open Wednesday, Saturday and for Monday’s story time and is staffed only by volunteers.

Hopkins was locally famous for baking his own beans and bringing them to meetings of the historical society, Alley said.

“He was always a faithful volunteer at any function of the historical society,” she said.

Marilyn Mercer is the director of the library and said she’s looking forward to being able to take care of the library grounds and to paint the schoolhouse a shiny new red.

“I always liked Randall,” she said. “He was a real nice man.”

. But I had no idea he had this kind of money to leave. This is really a wonderful thing.”

acurtis@bangordailynews.net

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http://bangordailynews.com/2009/03/27/news/man-gives-large-sum-to-small-town/ printed on July 12, 2014