Persistence pays off for Hopping

The City Council presented Bruce Hopping with a commendation for his foundation, for which he had been lobbying for months.

Hopping and the Kalos Kagathos Foundation, which he heads, were honored at the Jan. 10 meeting for more than 40 years of service to the city.

"Mr. Bruce Hopping has attended a copious number of City Council meetings," said Councilman Kelly Boyd, to whom Hopping had appealed for the recognition of his foundation's good works. "His petulant behavior has prompted numerous painstaking discussions.

"However, Mr. Hopping's ardor for Laguna Beach has always been evident in his actions. Therefore, it is with great esteem that I recommended to the City Council that we honor Mr. Hopping's numerous requests and present him with the proclamations recognizing his stupendous contributions to Laguna Beach."

Hopping is nothing if not persistent.

He jousts at council meetings against traffic patrol citations, claiming the time and effort would be better spent on art that would attract tourists to town.

He periodically calls on the art festivals to present a locals-only event to make up for what he considers an imposition on residents' quality of life.

Hopping bemoans the lack of figurative art in the city-owned collection and doggedly petitions the city to honor the Brooks Street Surfing Classic with a sculpture — a figurative one, naturally.

He advocates for skateboarding as a way of life and as a sport native to Laguna that has bred champions.

For years he pursued the installation of "Fantasy of Wings," a sculpture by Bob Krantz, but he finally gave up on that — a rare instance.

"I keep after things," Hopping said. "That is how I survived three weeks on a raft in the Pacific Ocean during World War II."

It was the war that brought the young Hopping to Laguna. As a U.S. Army pilot, Hopping was stationed at the Marine Corps Air Station El Toro.

"We used to visit Laguna," Hopping said. "It was paradise. That was before the developers came in."

Following the war, Hopping was based at a Maryland boot camp, where he coached swimming. After learning that the base cooks were scamming food meant for the "boots" and serving them swill instead, Hopping went to battle. His interference did not sit well with his superiors, and he was threatened with a court martial.

Instead, he was put on ship headed for the Korean Ward, where he once again found himself leading an insurrection.

"I reported the idiotic conduct of the captain of the ship," Hopping said.

His superiors called it a mutiny. Hopping was court martialed for "criticizing naval discipline," according to an article published in The New York Times.

"The court martial was later rescinded," Hopping said.

With his military career over, Hopping moved to Laguna to fight another day.

"In the early part of my residence in Laguna, I met James E. Murley, who was head of the [American Civil Liberties Union] and we went to UC Irvine to establish a gay center," Hopping said. "And working with others, we did the same thing in Fullerton."

Hopping also convinced both the City Council and the school board to ban smoking in their chambers during public meetings.

But art and watersports dominated the activities for which the council honored Hopping.

Hopping worked with Laguna Art Museum to establish the Laguna Beach Arts Committee (not the city Arts Commission), created and commissioned the city's Young Artist Community Services Organization and commissioned beach conservation memorials.

He helped establish the Thurston Middle School and Laguna Beach High School surf teams and has financed teams to compete in international events.

His foundation also sponsored the China Beach Surfing Tournament in 1992 and paid for a 12-member American team to participate.

Hopping is a proponent of a healthy mind in a healthy body.

Recently turned 90, Hopping swims daily in the ocean and walks to and from the beach from his mid-town home.

The name of his foundation bears out his philosophy: Kalos kagathos is ancient Greek, interpreted as the Homeric Greeks' ideal of a complete personality, harmonious in mind and body.

"If you have respect for yourself, you won't do anything to injure it and, by extension, you have respect for every living thing and the environment," Hopping said.

Hopping founded the Kalos Kagathos Foundation in 1953. He is the sole decision-maker for the foundation and, as far as anyone knows, the sole member.

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