Billy E. Hopper

June 28, 1930April 6, 2021

He was born in Falkner, MS, on June 28, 1930. The oldest son of Claude and Kitty Mae Besinger Hopper. Billy grew up in Tiplersville, MS, and attended school at Tiplersville Elementary and Chalybeate MS High School. After graduation in 1949, he enlisted in the U.S. Air Force. His enlistment was for 1-year active duty and 6 years in the Reserves. After active-duty he worked for Standard Parts in Memphis. Shortly after the Korean War started, he was called back into active duty, reporting to Eglin Air Force Base in Ft. Walton, Florida. He was assigned to the Special Air Task Group Drone Squadron. His top secret unit was sent to Enewetoc, in the Marshall Islands, to assist in the testing of nuclear bombs. Pilotless aircraft were used for flying through the mushroom clouds. He was involved in four of these explosions. When relieved from active duty, he returned to Memphis and worked short stints with Standard Parts and E. C. Blackstone Company. To further his education, he enrolled in Memphis College of Accountancy using his GI Bill. In 1955 he joined Firestone Tire and Rubber Company, in the Sales and Distribution Department. He spent 34 years with Firestone, retiring in 1989 as the Memphis Regional Distribution Manager. Billy was a member of Kensington Baptist Church from 1959-2006, until Kensington merged with Gracewood Baptist Church, teaching Sunday School at both churches. In 2008, Billy was preceded in death by his wife, Millie, after 56 years of marriage. Also preceding Billy in death were his four brothers: Robert, Claude Jr, Richard, Ricky Joe Hopper; and one sister, Rita Childress. He is survived by two sons: Steve Hopper (Cindy) of Ocean Springs, MS and Ronnie Hopper (Marisa) of Fort Myers Beach, FL. He also leaves one granddaughter, Dr. Sandi Hopper Fontecchio (Joseph) of St. Peters, MO; three grandsons, David, Mark, and Kyle Hopper of Austin, Texas. He leaves two great-grandchildren, Blake and Penny Rose Fontecchio, and a very special friend and travel companion of 8 1/2 years, Saranne Emerson. He was loved by numerous nieces and nephews. He is survived by four sisters: Shirlee Cardwell and Lila Logan (John) of Memphis; Janette Carpenter (Joe Keith) of Ripley, MS; and Peggy Dixon of Cherokee, AL. The family will receive friends for a time of visitation at Gracewood Baptist Church on Saturday, April 10, 2021 from 10am-12pm with a funeral service to follow at 12:00 pm. Interment will follow at Blocker Cemetery in Olive Branch.

In lieu of flowers, Billy requested donations be made to the Operating Fund, Gracewood Baptist Church, 8551 Getwell Road, Southaven, MS 38672-6420.


  • Claude and Kitty Mae Besinger Hopper, Parents (deceased)
  • Mille Hopper, Wife of 56 years (deceased)
  • Robert, Claude Jr, Richard, Ricky Joe Hopper, Brothers (deceased)
  • Rita Childress, Sister (deceased)
  • Steve Hopper (Cindy) and Ronnie Hopper (Marisa), Sons
  • Dr. Sandi Hopper Fontecchio (Joseph), Granddaughter
  • David, Mark and Kyle Hopper, Grandsons
  • Blake and Penny Rose Fontecchio, Great Grandchildren
  • Saranne Emerson, Very special friend and travel companion of 8 1/2 years
  • Shirlee Cardwell, Lila Logan (John), Janette Carpenter (Joe Keith) and Peggy Dixon, Sisters
  • He also leaves numerous nieces and nephews to cherish his memory.

  • The Operating Fund at Gracewood Baptist Church



  • Visitation

    Saturday, April 10, 2021

  • Funeral Service

    Saturday, April 10, 2021



  • Interment


Billy E. Hopper

have a memory or condolence to add?

Mary Brown

April 9, 2021

My thoughts are with you during this time of sorrow. I'll always have good memories of the golf buddies and the "tall tales" told by Jimmy when he got home. Now they can get their "Holes in one" on the Par 3's in heaven. Billy was a very good cousin and friend and will truly be missed. My love to you all.