April 3, 1934 — Jan. 28, 2009

Leo A. Hopkins Sr. of Grand Island, a retired labor leader with Local 17 of the International Union of Operating Engineers, died Wednesday in Kenmore Mercy Hospital. He was 74.

Mr. Hopkins was born in Buffalo and graduated from Riverside High School. He served in the National Guard during the 1950s.

Mr. Hopkins joined Local 17 in 1951. He served as a business agent and an officer in Locals 17, 17a, 17b, and 17c from 1966 until 1971.

In 1974, he was elected business manager of Local 17 and all of its branches, a position he held until his retirement in 1992.

His fellow union members remembered him for his commitment to enhancing the working and living conditions for members and their families. Mr. Hopkins believed that benefits were just as important as hourly wages. He helped negotiate contracts in which members set aside portions of their pay raises to fund their supplement unemployment fund, health and welfare benefits and pension plans. To this day, hundreds of Local 17 members have pensions that they can live on and new members can look forward to because of Mr. Hopkins’ efforts.

Mr. Hopkins was also a fixture at Grand Island Town Board meetings, making sure town officials were held accountable for their actions.

Mr. Hopkins is survived by his wife of 46 years, the former Elizabeth L. Elmlinger; a daughter, Kathleen Pratt; three sons, Leo M., Thomas J. and James P.; and a brother, Thomas G.

A Mass of Christian Burial will be offered at 10 a. m. Monday in St. Stephen’s Catholic Church, 2100 Baseline Road, Grand Island.