Roy Gary Lopp was born to Vivian Hedrick Lopp and Roy Lopp on January 17, 1937 in the house his dad built near Lexington, NC in the Holly Grove community. At age seven he moved with his family to the Baptist Children’s Home campus In Thomasville, NC where his parents were employed. He graduated from Thomasville High School and from Wake Forest University.
Gary was a Boy Scout and went through the ranks to achieve the highest honor of Eagle Scout. His father was one of his Scout leaders. He had the privilege of attending a World Jamboree in Austria at the age of 14, which was one of the highlights of his life.
He entered the Navy after college and was sent to flight school. This was during the Vietnam era and he flew troops and equipment to Vietnam in C-130 airplanes and had one carrier landing. He was hired by American Airlines after spending five years in the Navy. He flew for AA for 31 years, flying several kinds of planes – and absolutely loving his career. He and Pat moved from Illinois to North Carolina in 1987 when American began flying to the state Gary and an all-North Carolina crew flew the first American flight out of the new RDU Hub. Gary was based in Washington, Chicago, Raleigh-Durham, and Miami. In his last years of flying he made many flights to Buenos Aires, Argentina, a city he came to love. In his last year or two he took most of his children and spouses, a granddaughter, his mother and Pat to BA to show off the city. Gary retired in 1997. He has continued to love flying and had many friends who shared their private planes with him. He made many trips with friends and his two sons to Oshkosh, WI to the big air show there. He was involved with two pilot groups who got together monthly for meals and pilot talk.
Gary loved his toys – sports cars, antique cars (‘3l Model A Ford and ’47 Chevy truck), sailboats. He was a good mechanic and a “jack-of-all-trades”. After retirement he took his dad’s International tractor apart, piece by piece, cleaned and painted each piece and put it back together so it could be used on the farm near Lexington that he and his brother, Kent, inherited from their parents. This farmland has been in the Lopp family since the 1700’s.
Gary was always a leader – president of his high school senior class, an officer in civic clubs, Mayor of Herndon, VA from 1970-75, an officer in the American Pilots Union (APA), and went through the ranks to become president of the Grey Eagles, which is the retired American pilots’ group.
Gary loved airplanes, bluegrass music, good food and wine, his family and family history. He had a reputation as being a sharp dressed man. We believe some of Gary’s favorite memories would be: a motorhome trip from Illinois to Colorado with all six kids, ski trips to Utah with all the family, sailing adventures on the Morgan 41 sailboat around southern Florida, fishing trips with VA buddies and sons and sons-in-law, Hedrick family reunions and the many trips he and Pat took.
Gary is survived by his wife of 42 years, Patricia Penwell Lopp; daughter Julie Lopp Andrews (Russ) of Cornelius, NC; son Mike Lopp (Karen) of Manassas, VA; son Greg Lopp(Jennifer) of Leland, NC; stepdaughter Trisha Tucker Peterson (Gordon) of Flower Mound, TX; stepdaughter Kristin Tucker of Chapel Hill, NC; son-in-law, Dr. E. J. Burgess of Raleigh, NC; brother Kent Hedrick Lopp (Pat) of Thomasville, NC; Grandchildren: Katie Burgess Cashwell (Colie); John Burgess, Jake Andrews, Kent Andrews, Abigail Lopp; step-grandchildren: Ryan Peterson, Stephanie Peterson Roskelley (Joel), Jessica Peterson; former wife and mother of his children, Rebecca Malpass Lopp. Nephew Chuck Lopp (Jennifer), Niece Laura Lawson Lopp and many cousins and friends.
Gary was preceded in death by his parents, his oldest daughter, Dr. Wendy Lopp Burgess and grandson, Andrew (Andy) Jacob Lopp; sister-in-law Linda Lawson Lopp, sister-in-law and brother-in-law Frances and Neal Gray, sister-in-law Carol Narigon, parents-in-law Helen and Bud Penwell.
Gary and Pat have been active members of University United Methodist Church in Chapel Hill for over thirty years. Rev. Justin Coleman, Rev. Creighton Alexander and Rev. Bill Gattis will be participants in the memorial service which will be held, Saturday, June 16 at 11:00 with a reception following. In lieu of flowers the family requests memorials be sent to University United Methodist Church, 150 Franklin Street, Chapel Hill, NC 27514 or to the National Parkinson Foundation, 9th Avenue/Bob Hope Road, Miami, FL 33136-4194.
The Lopp family is under the care of Walker’s Funeral Home of Chapel Hill.