OAKLAND (CBS SF) – Friends and family awakened to the news of the death of Barbara Johnson Hopper, one the first five deaths from COVID-19, in Alameda County. She was 81.
They news of Hopper’s has stunned her community, and brought the reality of the coronavirus’s tragic reach close to home.
“‘I want to live!’ was one of the last things I heard my mother say while lying on her hospital bed,” wrote her daughter Adriane Hopper Williams in a Facebook post on Friday. Her mom’s lungs were wracked by pneumonia from the virus. “She was struggling to get air, but we heard this loud and clear.”
Lying there, secure in her faith in God, Barbara assured Adriane that she would survive. Sadly, at 4:53 p.m., on March 26, she took her last breath.
A trailblazer, Hopper created the Tuskegee Laboratory and Learning Center, in Alabama, where her husband Dr. Cornelius Hopper, served as director of the John A. Andrew Memorial Hospital at Tuskegee Institute.
The pair moved to the Bay Area in 1979, where she became one of the East Bay’s top producing real estate agents, and Dr. Hopper served as Vice-President of the University of California System Health Affairs.
She was an active member in the African-American community, and attended the Church by the Side of the Road, in Berkeley.
“She was the one who brought people together, the ultimate party planner, a woman of class, honor and integrity, the one who inspired us to be better,” wrote Adriane. “She was my best friend, my mother and role model.”
Adriane gave a stark warning about the seriousness of the coronavirus.
“You do not want this hell,” she wrote. “My mother deserved to be surrounded by her family and not treated like a threat to someone’s life for getting near her.”
“I would never have thought in a million years that something like this could happen to my family, but it did and it can happen to yours too if you are not safe. Stay home. This virus doesn’t care about your race, class, religion, or life’s purpose. Don’t let this be your story too.”
CBSSF.com writer, producer Jan Mabry is also executive producer Bay Sunday, Black Renaissance and host of Black Renaissance. She lives in Northern California. Follow her on Twitter @janmabr.