Hilda Beatrice Hopkins, 93, passed away peacefully on December 4, 2019, with her family by her side at Chester River Medical Center. Known as “Boots,” Ms. Hopkins, the daughter of the late Robie and Victoria Butler, was born on January 27th, 1926 in Coleman’s Corner, Md. She was preceded in death by her first husband, Allie Ringgold Gilbert, Sr, and second husband, William Thomas Hopkins whom she married July 14th, 1980. She’s preceded in death by sisters Sudonia Holland, Ann Butler, Jane Butler, Elizabeth Harris and two brothers, Robie Butler, Jr. and Charles “Delmus” Butler.
She moved to Chestertown when she married Allie Gilbert in 1947.
“She lived on Railroad Avenue along what was known as the Boardwalk,” remembered her daughter, Sudonia Gilbert. “The railroad ran to the waterfront and the goods came in and out of there,” she recalled. Railroad Avenue was in the vicinity of the present-day 300 block of S. Queen Street.
That was a time when Chestertown was in transition. The construction of the Bay Bridge transformed transportation on the Eastern Shore. Barges and trains supplied Kent County, converging on the waterfront where you would have found the Peerless Fertilizer Company, owned by Wilbur Watson Hubbard (now the site of Wilmer Park), the Kibler Coal Yard and the nascent Chestertown Electric Company at the site of the Chestertown Marina, and even a cannery.
“In 1968, Washington Park and Quaker Estates were built and they moved the black people off of Railroad Avenue, but my parents did not have the finances so we moved around the corner to Front Street with the help of Dr. and Mrs. A.F. Whitsitt. Dr. Whitsitt.” Dr. Whitsitt was the county’s health officer at one time.
“She worked for several families in Kent County, including many years for Judge William Dunbar Gould until his death,” Ms. Gould recalled.
Ms. Hopkins was a fixture of the Scott’s Point neighborhood that included Front Street. Over the years, she was nicknamed the “Mayor of Front Street.” She will be remembered for her friendly greetings and inquiries and dog treats. She only recently moved from her home because of health issues. She witnessed the gentrification of the Scott’s Point neighborhood. Her home was finally torn down to make way for redevelopment in early December.
She was a faithful member of Jane’s United Methodist Church and the Elks.
Hilda Hopkins is survived by her loving children: Mary Hynson, Sudonia Gilbert, and Wendy Gilbert all of Chestertown,Md., and sons Allie Ringgold Gilbert, Jr. of Las Vegas, N.V. and Henry Gilbert (Andrea) of Dover, DE, 11 grandchildren, 19 great-grandchildren, and 10 great-great grandchildren, as well as a host of nieces, nephews, cousins, and numerous friends. The family wishes to acknowledge with deep appreciation to Margaret Ann Gould Cummings, and sister Mary Gould Woody.
Services will be held at Jane’s Church, Cross and Cannon Streets Chestertown on Friday, December 13, 2019 at 11 a.m. Burial will follow at Colemans United Methodist Church.
Feature Image courtesy of Sudonia Gilbert