Jeanne Hopson Obituary

Jeanne  Hopson
Jeanne Hopson

December 2, 1938 - May 3, 2019
Born in Des Moines, Iowa
Resided in West Des Moines, Iowa


Jeanne Marie (Ferris) Hopson was born December 2, 1938 to Maurice and Ruth Ferris in Des Moines, Iowa. She died May 3, 2019 at the Kavanagh House in Des Moines from acute respiratory failure.

Jeanne was the youngest of five sisters. She attended Elmood Elementary, Callanan Junior High, and Roosevelt High schools. She was a gifted student, graduating a year early in the top 5% of her class, and was an accomplished athlete who excelled in swimming as a member of the Roosevelt Sharks and as a dancer, a talent which manifested in her professional career.

At Roosevelt she met her future husband, James Robert (Bob) Hopson. She had seen him in the cafeteria at age 14 and whispered to a friend “there goes the father of my children.” And later that year Bob reported to his mother “the shortest girl I’ve ever seen just asked me to the Spinster Spree.” Jeanne and Bob were married on August 29, 1956 and have been blessed with 63 years of marriage, 5 children, 12 grandchildren and 3 great grandchildren.

Jeanne’s professional life was vast. She began as an actor at the Des Moines Community Playhouse and soon was running the box office, later becoming the Asst. to the Director and then Director of the Theater for Young People.

As an equity and non-equity actor, Jeanne performed in over 50 productions in 5 Midwestern cities. As a director she has worked with people from age 4 to 94 at the amateur, semi-professional and professional levels. In these capacities she worked at the Des Moines Community Playhouse, Charlie’s Showplace, The Drama Workshop, Children’s Theater and Theater of Western Springs, Children’s Theater and Theater in the Round in Minneapolis, and the La Crosse Family Playhouse and School which she founded.

She has received numerous awards, including ‘Arts Person of the Year’, ‘Outstanding Actress’, and was the first woman named a Des Moines Community Playhouse Legend. She won national recognition in being twice-awarded AATE’s ‘Most Outstanding New Children’s Theater in the United States and Canada.’

Jeanne was an adjudicator for the Iowa High School Music Theater Awards, on the panel of judges for the Cloris Awards, and worked on the scholarship committee for performing arts for the Des Moines Woman’s Club.

She prided herself as being an educator and was a true believer in the transformative power of theater to shape and to guide the lives of others, especially young people. The multitude of testimonials to this fact include those of her own children.

Jeanne was a devoted and loving wife and life partner. She was a wonderful mother, never losing faith in any of her children, even if they had lost faith in themselves. Jeanne was a loyal friend who was known to be authentic, open, fair, kind, full of grace, forgiving and smart. She was honest and true to herself, qualities that could endear or irritate others. She believed in angels.

Jeanne is survived by her husband, Bob, and children, Rick (Roseanne), Mike (Mel), Randy, Carol McCall, and Tom (Gord). Also surviving are 12 grandchildren: Alex (Vanessa), Patrick, Emma, Ryan (Skylar), Catie (Matthew), Edward, Andrew, Samantha, Jade, Dylan, Margaret, Emily and 3 great grandchildren. She leaves behind Bob’s sister, Mariann, and her extended family, several nieces and nephews, and many dear friends, neighbors, colleagues and peers.

She is predeceased by her parents, her step-father, Gerald Pendarvis, and the parents of her husband. She is the last of five sisters - infant Marilyn, Beverly, Patricia and Nancy and their spouses. She has mourned the loss of a dear son in law, James McCall.

There will be a celebration of life gathering on June 4th at the Des Moines Community Playhouse. As Jeanne would say, “doors open at 6:00 p.m., curtain is at 7:00 p.m.” The family asks that in lieu of flowers donations be made in her name to the Des Moines Community Playhouse.





Celebration of Life Service
The Des Moines Playhouse
831 42nd Street
Des Moines, IA US 50312
Tuesday, June 4, 2019
7:00 PM
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