Obituaries detail

Bruce Richard Hopkins, Age: 80
Apr 25, 1941 - Oct 31, 2021

On October 31, 2021, Bruce Richard Hopkins, J.D., LL.M., S.J.D., left this world with a failing heart and his wife by his side.  His thinking and voice live on in the over 45 books he wrote, widely ranging from scholarly books about nonprofit law, including the primary text used in law schools, “The Law of Tax-Exempt Organizations,” to “The Bruce R. Hopkins’ Nonprofit Counsel” (a newsletter published monthly for 40 years), to popular, practical guides about nonprofits for laypeople, and, finally, to memoirs and poetry.  The ideas just kept flowing; he was often referred to as the “Dean of Nonprofit Law.” His teaching muscle was built over a period of 19 years when he was Professional Lecturer in Law at George Washington University National Law Center.   As Professor from Practice at the University of Kansas, School of Law, Bruce exercised his generative spirit teaching and mentoring younger colleagues. Always the legal scholar, he could brilliantly take complicated concepts and distill them down into easily understood principles for beginners, seasoned colleagues and those, like his wife, unfamiliar with the subject matter.  He was a presenter and featured speaker, nationally and internationally, at numerous conferences throughout his career, among them Representing and Managing Tax-Exempt Organizations (Georgetown University Law Center, Washington, D.C.) and The Private Foundations Tax Seminar (El Pomar Foundation, Colorado Springs, CO).  He practiced law in Washington, D.C. and Kansas City, MO, for over 50 years, receiving numerous awards and forms of recognition for his efforts. 


In many ways Bruce was a delightful, complicated man.  Unassuming, but quietly proud of his achievements, he did love the finer things in life--- fine dining, elegant clothes and reading good books--- and he conducted himself as the utmost in gentlemen.  He was kind and overflowing with integrity.  While consistently the serious legal scholar, Bruce had a playful side.  To his grandchildren, he was known as “Dude.”  He would play with them for hours and hours, especially in the swimming pool, where he was easily the biggest kid in the water.  His office was filled with weird and fascinating creatures and collectibles from all over the world, for example a wooden giraffe, a ceramic alligator, a beaded elephant, as well as many masks and figurines.  And he owned everything Stephen King ever published.


Bruce was born in Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan, on April 25, 1941, to Frederick Hopkins and Jane Carnahan, the oldest of three children.  Shortly after graduation from the University of Michigan, he moved to Washington, D.C., where, initially, he worked as an Administrative Assistant to a Congressman. Soon thereafter he entered and graduated from George Washington Law School, following which he was drawn into studying, practicing and writing about the world of nonprofit law and continued that work until days before his death.  He moved to Kansas City in 1996 and married Bonnie Buchele, Ph.D., on April 19, 1997, who survives him.  He is also survived by Amy Buchele Ash (Greg), Brad Buchele (Jodie), Isabel Ash, Sadie Ash and brother, Jon (Jan) Hopkins. 


In other ways, Bruce simply loved life.  He was passionate about his writing, law practice, teaching, and his grandchildren.  He loved and adored his wife.  These all made life meaningful for him.  He was an enriching presence for all who knew him and for the world. Sad as it is to let him go, he will be remembered always.  A memorial service will be scheduled at a time to be determined.  Memorial donations may be made to KU Endowment in support of the Bruce R. Hopkins Scholarship at the University of Kansas, School of Law.  Send donations to KU Endowment, P.O. Box 928, Lawrence KS 66044 or give securely online at   


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