Eagle-Vail man remembered as happy-go-lucky | VailDaily.com

Eagle-Vail man remembered as happy-go-lucky

Special to the Vail DailyEagle-Vail resident Riley Hopson is pictured during a recent rafting trip on the Colorado River. Riley died Sunday, Sept. 28, of injuries he suffered while rafting.

EAGLE COUNTY, Colorado Riley Hopson and Rick Tompkins started rafting together more than 20 years ago. Tompkins figures they spent hundreds of days together on the river. And every time they finished a trip their friendship was as strong as it was when they hit the water.He was that kind of guy, Tompkins said.He was almost always happy, Tompkins said. Even when he got mad hed still be smiling, within just a few minutes hed be over it.Hopson, an Eagle-Vail resident, died Sunday the day after his birthday from injuries he suffered while rafting. He was 57. Hopson moved the Vail Valley in 1972. He worked as a rafting guide for Nova Guides, Inc., and a draftsman with the Vail-based AIA architecture company.His name is probably on more building plans than anybody else in this town, said Steve Riden, of AIA. He worked with everybody. Riden doesnt remember exactly how he met Hopson, but like most people that knew him, his infectious smile and overwhelming hospitality quickly came to mind.He was a jolly fellow, said Riden, who worked with Hopson for 18 years. He was always there for everybody. Hopson, Tompkins and Minturn resident Gary Koehler started working at Nova Guides the mid 80s and were among the outdoor recreation companys first guides. The trio would raft a couple dozen times a summer. Most every trip has some memory, Tompkins said. But it isnt a specific rafting memory Tompkins cherishes most. Their trips were just about enjoying the time on the water, he said. He was just always there for you, Tompkins said. I would put my life in his hands, and when we would go out on big water, if I was riding with him my life was in hands you would just trust him in that way.When the snow started to fall in the Vail Valley, Hopson would be snowmobiling or skiing. We would ski every Sunday, Koehler said. It was our church in the mountains. He was the smoothest skier Ive ever gone with.Minturn resident Kelley Booker met Hopson through a mutual friend after moving to the area six years ago. Shell never forget him. He just became a dear, dear friend of mine, Booker said. He was one of the best friends I had. You had to love Riley, you just did. Booker described Hospons personality as boyish. That smile and laugh he was such a jovial person, she said. Hopson truly enjoyed life, said Avon resident Karri Willemssen. He had a great sense of humor and the best laugh, Willemssen said. And he never complained. Tompkins said Hospon often spoke about his mother. He loved his mother very much, he was always talking about her with us, Tompkins said. He was always doing things for her and was always telling us how he took care of her and loved her very much.Information about a memorial service for Hopson has not been released. Ill just miss seeing him, we pretty much saw each other every day, Tompkins said. He was always there and were just not going to have him there anymore.Staff Writer Chris Outcalt can be reached at (970)748-2931 or coutcalt@vaildaily.com.

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