As with most of the people who donate materials to the W. R. Poage Legislative Library, Ms. Lola Hopper has an interesting story. Lola grew up near Houston in the Baytown area and loved the water from an early age. Eventually, her family moved and she attended high school in San Marcos. While still a student, she introduced a bill calling on the local school board to allow African-American students to participate in extracurricular activities, such as athletics. Though the bill did not pass until after she had graduated, she learned a valuable lesson about politics-one voice can make a difference. Thus began her love for and involvement in the political realm.
Lola Hopper with Dan Morales
Lola studied English and History at Austin Community College for a year before leaving school to become Terrell Blodgett's secretary in 1965-66. Blodgett was a Baylor alumnus and the Administrative Assistant to Governor John B. Connally from December 1964 – January 1969. In 1969 Lola became the office manager for state senator Don Adams, also a Baylor alumnus. When Adams left office Lola began working in the TXU lobbyist office in Austin in 1978. She stayed there until 1987 when she became the office manager for state senator Judith Zaffirini, for whom she worked for two years.
During the 1990s Lola held a number of positions; first, she worked for Texas Attorney General Jim Mattox on his Outreach for the Blind Project; then, for five years she worked with Attorney General Dan Morales in his Child Support Division; and finally, Lola worked for the Texas Department of Mental Health and Mental Retardation in Austin.
For a period of about six months Lola was an assistant to molecular biologist and science administrator Maxine Singer, while Dr. Singer was President of the Carnegie Institution of Washington. Singer is known for her work in solving the genetic code and debates on recombinant DNA techniques. During this brief tenure with Dr. Singer, Lola was able to type a draft of one of her books dealing with genetics.
Upon reflecting on her time spent in Austin, TX and Washington, DC, Lola is grateful for the privilege she enjoyed as an eyewitness to history. She was present for such memorable moments as the Dirty 30, the Killer Bees (a group of Texas state senators who in 1979 went into hiding to prevent a quorum), and the impeachment trial of a Supreme Court Justice, just to name a few.
After working in and around politics for fifty years, Lola Hopper retired in 2002. However, she has always volunteered and continues to remain active and dedicated to the Democratic Party. In fact, during the 2008 Presidential campaign Lola went online and volunteered to go to work for Senator Hillary Clinton as soon as she announced. As a result, she was the first person in the Waco area to be contacted by the Clinton campaign. Lola was selected to be the coordinator of volunteers when Sen. Clinton came to speak in Waco and was responsible for recruiting veterans to attend the event. Lola was so dedicated that she fulfilled all of the requirements of becoming a delegate and eventually became one of two delegates from District 17.
Along the way, Lola has collected whatever political memorabilia has been of interest to her. The first political items that she collected were a sign and campaign button from John Connally's run for Governor of Texas. One of her most prized items is a pin given to her by Sen. Hillary Clinton's campaign. It is one of only 600 such pins given to Clinton supporters that signed petitions that enabled roll call voting at the Democratic National Convention in Denver, CO. Lola was the fifth person in the nation to turn in her petition.
Lola currently lives in Waco but is planning to move to Boise, Idaho soon. She looks forward to enjoying her grandchildren and the cool Idaho weather. Lola also plans to do some traveling. She wants to see Oregon, Alaska, Utah, and Italy among other places. However, Lola does not plan to give up her passion. She's already received her voter registration card from Idaho and has the telephone number of the local Democratic Party office so she can immediately resume her volunteering and civic duties following the move.
Lola Hopper has seen and done much in her life, but she still remembers the lesson she learned in high school, that one vote and one person are all it takes to make a difference. Her favorite quotation is, "Nothing ventured, nothing gained". Lola's personal belief is that, "It is extremely important that every human being is involved. Every human being needs to know the political process and what is going on. One person can make a difference. You have to pursue what you believe in and your voice will be heard."