Social history expert who was genuinely loved by folk at the Library

Hopner - Graham and self in local studies dept

Librarian Graham Hopner in Dumbarton Library with his colleague Arthur Jones.

GRAHAM HOPNER (1944-2019) – I would like to pay tribute to the memory of my former library colleague and friend, Graham Hopner. Graham had been unwell for some considerable time, and died a few days ago.

Graham’s was for many years a well -known face at Dumbarton Library’s reference and local collection department, and many years before, also at Alexandria, Ladyton and Balloch Libraries.

I have known Graham since 1975. He came to our local area in 1973 from Birkenhead, where he was born. After some years in branch management positions, he threw himself enthusiastically into the work of the local studies department where he helped countless people over the years with their local and family history interests.

A one-time youth worker locally, Graham was also an active member of the Vale of Leven Cricket Club.

Perhaps not many knew, but Graham was quite the linguist, being fluent in French and German, and for a while he even taught a night-school class in elementary Italian.

Graham was a widower, having lost his wife Barbara some years ago. I well remember attending the wedding of his lovely daughter, Zoe to her Sikh husband. They gave Graham two young boy grandchildren.

Cronin Dumbarton Library in Strathleven PlaceColleagues and friends will remember Graham as intelligent, thoughtful, spiritual, very knowledgeable, and not least as a lovable eccentric. He was the kind of person who always thought the best of people.

He will be sadly missed. But if his own beliefs come true, we shall probably see him again in another world.

Tributes and expressions of condolence for his daughter poured in for Graham on social media.

Dumbarton piper Colin Lawrie described Graham as “one of life’s gentlemen. He always had time for you and showed a keen interest and helped me greatly on many researches.”

Colleague Chris O’Donnell said: “One of the very best. We all loved him to bits at Dumbarton.

“A great, great man. Heaven’s gain is our loss. Sleep well Graham.”

He added: “I have fond memories of working with Graham.

“At this moment he will be sitting down to a nice curry, complete with wonky fork, only to be interrupted by God with a Local History question.

“And he will come out straight away and give him the answer.

“It’s safe to say that that great Library up there has got itself one heck of an archivist.”

Democrat editor Bill Heaney said: “So sad to hear about Graham. He was truly a lovely guy who was also all those other nice things you have said about him Arthur.

“He was always helpful, always interested, always courteous. My sons, who played cricket with him for the Vale, loved being in his company.

“Graham was a polymath who loved local history and he wrote about it and archived it with great dedication and skill.

“He even wrote a book of Mick McFall jokes, which members of the Dumbarton public greatly appreciated.”

“Tommy Crocket, of the Lennox Heritage Society, said: “Very sorry to hear this very sad news. I always find library staff to be extremely helpful, but Graham was one of a kind. His interest and knowledge in local history was matchless. RIP Graham.”

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