Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Altis Skiles Hopkins (1872-1954)

Portrait from the Sandusky, Ohio Register, April 21, 1927.

   A leading Kansas oil executive during the first half of the 20th century, Altis Skiles Hopkins was a longtime Neodesha resident who, after working his way up the corporate ladder, succeeded to the post of President of Standard Oil Co. of Kansas in 1927. Following his retirement from that office, Hopkins made his lone foray into Kansas politics when he was appointed as Mayor of his home city of Neodesha, this appointment coming about due to the death of incumbent mayor J.W. Bogue. Born on a farm in Neodesha on November 9, 1872, Altis Skiles Hopkins was the son of James Madison (1849-1917) and Ellen (Skiles) Hopkins (1842-1909).
  Little information could be found in regards to Hopkins' early life and education, excepting his being "reared on a farm" and his first entering the oil industry in 1897, gaining employment at the Standard Oil of Kansas' refinery at Neodesha. Altis S. Hopkins married in Neodesha to Helen Gilmore Blakeslee (1879-1943) on February 23, 1898. The couple were wed for over four decades and later had three children, Thomas Blakeslee Hopkins (1903-1965), Grace Ellen (born ca. 1908), and Helen Rosemary (born ca. 1914).
   Beginning his career in oil "digging ditches for ten cents an hour", Hopkins quietly climbed the corporate ladder by hard work and perseverance, and by 1913 had become the superintendent of the Neodesha refinery. In addition to his attaining that post, Hopkins was awarded two patents in 1916 for petroleum distilling apparatus. A decade after becoming superintendent Hopkins was promoted to general manager of the Neodesha refinery, and in that same year assumed the role of vice-president of Standard Oil Co. of Kansas.
  Altis Hopkins reached the apex of his business career in 1927 when he became president of Kansas Standard Oil, then remarked as being  "an $8,000,000 corporation." He served in that capacity until stepping down in 1932.

  After retiring from Standard Oil of Kansas Hopkins saw his former company sold to the Standard Oil Co. of Indiana. He later took on the presidency of the Ozark Pipe Line in the mid-1930s and entered politics for the first time in 1934 when he was appointed as Mayor of Neodesha, succeeding longtime mayor John Wilson Bogue, who had died in office a few days previously. Hopkins mayoralty extended until 1937, with no information available as to the particulars of his term of office. Widowed in 1943, Altis S. Hopkins died of cancer in Neodesha on May 5, 1954, aged 81. He was survived by his son and daughters and was interred alongside his wife Helen at the Neodesha Cemetery.

From the Kansas City Times, 1954.

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