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Obituary: Gloria Kathryn Hopkins

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Gloria Kathryn Hopkins believed that a life well traveled was a life well lived. The former President & Chief Operating Officer of Little Rock based World Wide Travel Service made her final journey surrounded in love with her family on May 20, 2023. 

Born in Nashville, Ark., on July 5, 1928, to parents, Ed Garland Hopkins Sr. & Kate Womack Reese, Gloria graduated from Nashville High School. She received a BA in English from Hendrix College and a MA in Spanish from the State College of Arkansas. Her passion for travel was inspired at age 17 when she embarked on a journey via train to Mexico City with her aunt and uncle. This was the first of many international voyages that would illustrate the story of her life.

The experience also roused her love of the Spanish language. Gloria taught Spanish in Little Rock public schools for 18 years. She began her career teaching a foreign language pilot program at Williams Elementary in Little Rock and continued that program into the greater Little Rock School District. During summer breaks, Gloria worked with World Wide Travel Service in leisure travel. That small summer job would ultimately launch her second career in the travel industry. 

In 1980, Gloria accepted a permanent position with the company. In 1982, she became President & COO and with Gloria at the helm, World Wide Travel Service grew exponentially, becoming the largest travel agency in Arkansas and the 14th largest in the nation. Her business acumen and leadership skills flourished during her tenure at WWTS. She led the company through times of tremendous technological change, growth, and success. She had a passion for the industry and a leadership style that exuded strength, intelligence, grace, elegance, and humor.

In addition to her business prowess, Gloria contributed greatly to her community. After retiring from WWTS in 2002, Gloria shifted her focus toward helping the children of Arkansas through her volunteer work with Arkansas CASA, (Court Appointed Special Advocates for Children). In 2007, she received a community service award for her exceptional service, advocating for children and families in the courtroom.

Gloria was also a dedicated mother, grandmother, and great-grandmother. She most enjoyed inspiring her love of travel in her family. Her photo albums are filled with memories of adventures past with family, documenting a life well lived.

Gloria was preceded by her parents Ed and Kate, brother Dr. Ed Garland Hopkins Jr., granddaughter Erin Finch Mayer, and lifelong friends Annette Hoover, Charlotte Goodlett, and C.C. Carlton.

Gloria is survived by a son, Carl Finch (Irene), daughter Kathryn Finch, grandchildren Justin Finch, Amelia Thompson (Evan), Zachary Finch (Allison), Janell Brown (Joshua), and great-grandchildren, Ethan Hurtado, Raine Mayer, Lilly Finch, Emma Finch, Katie Finch, Gavin Pritchard, Braden Evans, Corbin Smith, and Noah Brown.

A service of remembrance will be held at Asbury United Methodist Church in Little Rock on June 30, 2023, at 1:00 p.m. Reception to follow.

Memorial contributions in Gloria’s honor may be made to Arkansas CASA.

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