After a full, vibrant life of nearly 98 years, Joann May Hopp died peacefully on October 12, 2020.
Born of Italian immigrants Salvatore and Laura (Persichetti) Spano on November 10, 1922, in Arvada, Colorado, at home, she was the oldest of five sisters. Her Italian heritage and love of family shaped her entire life. Joann graduated from Arvada High School in 1940 and earned a Business Degree from Denver University in 1944. She married Ralph L. Hopp, M.D., on March 19, 1944, and they were blessed with seven children. The Hopp family moved to Council Bluffs in 1958 from Ann Arbor, Michigan, when Dr. Hopp joined the Cogley Clinic. Joann was a member of St. Patrick Catholic Church and a strong supporter of St. Albert Catholic Schools.
In addition to her parents, Joann is preceded in death by Ralph, her husband of 57 years; her daughter JoEllen Hopp Petri; daughter-in-law Rae Anne Hopp; nephew-in-law Dante Salvatierra; sisters and brothers-in-law Dorothy (Russell) Raymond and Betty Lou (Dale) Freeby.
Survived by daughter Laural Ronk (Richard, Jr.) of Council Bluffs; sons: Russell (Cynthia) Hopp, D.O., Dennis (Suzanne) Hopp, all of Omaha; Steven (Barbara) Hopp of Meadowview, Virginia; Robert (Lisa) Hopp of Montreal, Canada; Ronald (Lisa) Hopp of Littleton, Colorado; 20 grandchildren and 8 great-grandchildren; sisters Clara Glover of Arvada, Colorado, and Lena (William) Raymond of Lakewood, Colorado; nieces and nephews.
Joann was famous for opening up her “magic fridge” and concocting meals for 8 or 12 or whoever was on hand. Her simple, straightforward Italian recipes, taught to her by her mother and paternal grandmother, were loved by multi-generations. Children and grandchildren alike know and can reproduce the recipes that she only kept in her head. She wrote three family cookbooks related to baking and Italian cooking, each one of them a treasure.
Discovering painting later in life, she developed a real talent, entering her work in art contests. Her art pieces are of places she has visited or nature that she loved. She made sure that she painted something for each of her grandchildren to keep. Her work was lovingly displayed throughout her home, always the gathering place for her large family. Joann was also an accomplished seamstress, sewing throughout her life for herself and her children.
Although she had many friends in the community, the people closest to her have always been family. Countless impromptu get-togethers were hatched at a moment’s notice, always assumed to be at “Grandma’s” house. She was incredibly proud of her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren – ever eager to find out the latest information and accomplishments and always ready to share the latest family news. She was truly the glue that held her precious family together.
Joann was extremely active in the Council Bluffs community. Throughout the years, she served as a volunteer, board member or board officer/president/chairman of the following organizations: St. Patrick School Parents’ Club; St. Patrick Cub Scout Troop; Mercy Hospital Guild; Service League; American Association of University Women; County Medical Association Auxiliary; Council Bluffs Area Catholic Board of Education; Human Relation Commission, City of Council Bluffs; Urban Renewal Advisory Design Committee; American Red Cross, County Chapter; Operation Pride; St. Albert Educational Foundation; Children’s Square; Des Moines Diocesan Board of Education; Bluffs Arts Council; Council Bluffs Artists’ Association (member and contributing artist); The Book Club (for 60 years).
Traveling with her husband Ralph was one of Joann’s greatest joys. They navigated the country often, attending elderhostels and researching genealogy in many different locations. Dancing was a favorite pastime and they enjoyed several “big band” cruises with her sister Lena and husband Bill, also accomplished ballroom dancers. Several trips abroad to Italy were dear to Joann’s heart and she never stopped longing for the Colorado mountains of her childhood. For many years, the extended family went on Hopp Family Vacations all around North America, often taking place at the same time as family celebrations and milestones. A highlight was Ralph and Joann’s 50th anniversary in Evergreen, Colorado.
Joann Spano Hopp was independent and has lived alone in her own home for the twenty years since Ralph passed away in 2001. She was intelligent, fun, tenacious in spirit, intensely loved (and loved by) her family, always willing to offer sage advice. Her dignified elegance and strength will be greatly missed.
Visitation with the family on Thursday from 5-7 PM at Cutler-O'Neill Funeral Home in Council Bluffs. Recitation of The Rosary at 7pm. Mass of Christian burial on Friday at 10 AM at St. Patrick's Church in Council Bluffs. Burial to follow at St. Joseph's Cemetery in Council Bluffs. An Italian lunch will follow at St. Patrick's Parish Hall. Masks are required at all services.
Memorials are suggested to the Dr. Ralph L. Hopp Memorial Scholarship (Sciences) at St. Albert High School or Musella Brain Tumor Foundation, 1100 Peninsula Blvd., Hewlett, NY 11557.