class=""MsoNormal"">SALISBURY, MD---David Hooper has delivered mail in his native Harford County most of his adult life. Except for a two-year stint in the army, including a tour in Vietnam, Hooper has reported for work at the Bel Air Post Office at 7 a.m. each weekday since July 18, 1964. When he retires in a few months he will have almost 500 days of unused sick leave to his credit. It’s a work ethic Hooper learned from his father, James, who founded Harford Sanitation Services in 1953.
class=""MsoNormal"">“My dad believed in the biblical notion of doing everything to the best of your ability. He taught us that all you have in life is your name; make it count,” said Hooper. He credits his father with passing along a legacy based on the importance of faith, family and service.
class=""MsoNormal"">These are the lessons that led the mail carrier to create two scholarship funds to help deserving students with financial need to earn college degrees at Salisbury University and the University of Baltimore, the campuses where two of his children are graduates. The scholarships honor his father and the academic achievements of his son, Yuri, a 1994 SU graduate, and Diana, who graduated from the University of Baltimore in 2000. “I also think this gift will be pleasing to the Lord,” said Hooper.
class=""MsoNormal"">At least two $1,000 scholarships will be awarded annually at each campus, according to Kim Nechay, director of development at SU. “We are honored by the intent of this generous gift and proud of the educational experience we provide to our students. The Hooper Scholarship program illustrates the powerful impact SU has made on so many,” said Nechay.
class=""MsoNormal"">Proud of his children’s academic achievements and professional success, which he attributes to their hard work, Hooper also gives credit to his wife, Wilma. “Their mother should have a Ph.D. in motherhood. She made sure they were well prepared,” said Hooper as he recited Yuri’s academic accomplishments. He was first in his Bel Air High School class and earned a scholarship to SU, where he graduated summa cum laude as a biology major. Hooper also cites the “excellent teaching and mentoring” Yuri received as key to his academic development.
class=""MsoNormal"">Diana, who received a scholarship at UB, graduated near the top of her class with a degree in accounting. Yuri is a researcher for Lancaster Labs in Pennsylvania while Diana is an accountant for the Maryland District Court and trains her counterparts in counties across the state.
class=""MsoNormal"">The Hoopers’ third child, Shanelle, also has demonstrated the work ethic that is a family tradition, serving as a Harford County mail carrier since 1998, said Hooper, who is thrilled to be able to see his daughter each work day.
class=""MsoNormal"">Hooper’s father, who died in 2000, also taught his family how to enjoy life away from the job. “My dad had a passion for motorcycles and traveled across the country racing in hill climbing events. In fact, he was riding his BMW right up until a few months before he died at age 83,” said Hooper.
class=""MsoNormal"">When not delivering the mail to his 455 rural route customers Hooper enjoys cycling without a motor. He took up bicycling in earnest when Yuri began riding as a student at Salisbury. “Yuri decided to leave his car at home while he was at college so he could concentrate on his classes. He had to use a bike to get everywhere he wanted to go.”
class=""MsoNormal"">Hooper and his son shared this interest and have ridden in nearly every Sea Gull Century, an annual 100-mile ride sponsored by Salisbury University since 1991. Hooper has missed only one year, when he was injured about two weeks before the event while training.
class=""MsoNormal"">In retirement, Hooper and his wife plan to continue to live in the modest Cape Cod home where they raised their three children and spend Sundays attending Cornerstone Missionary Baptist Church in Dublin, where he occasionally plays guitar during services. The biggest change the 62-year-old has contemplated for retirement is to cycle as an age-group racer.
class=""MsoNormal"">But he also plans to continue to return to SU to ride in the Century with Yuri. Among an estimated 6,000 riders expected for this year’s Century, father and son will wear Nos. 1 and 2 in honor of the scholarship gift and the Hooper family legacy. “When an alum or a parent gives back to this extent, it is a powerful statement. And when the program they create is as meaningful to future students as this one…it just multiplies the effect,” said Nechay. For more information call 410-548-2772 or visit the SU Web site at www.salisbury.edu.