The family of John Benjamin Hopkin of Provo, Utah lovingly announces his passing on Sunday, September 27, 2020 at the age of forty-nine years. Ben suffered an aneurysm following a strong and courageous battle against renal cancer (nicknamed “Wayne” by Ben) and a rare form of lymphatic “gray zone” cancer, known by Ben as his sworn arch-enemy, “Todd” (the Tumescent). Although Todd gained a fleeting victory, Ben’s cremation—and his faith in the eternal nature of the human soul—give his body the triumph and the final word over his two-year-long foe. DEATH TO TODD!!! IN ALL HIS FORMS, WHEREVER HE IS FOUND, DEATH TO TODD!!! Ben is survived by his loving wife, Aimee; their three children and daughter-in-law, Cooper and Maddy, Isaac, and Evie; his parents, Arden and Lorraine; his four younger brothers and his sisters through marriage, Shon and Jennifer, Chris and Anna, Jeremy and Ali, and Cameron and Lisa; all of Aimee’s family, to whom he never attached the word “in-law”; and all of his dearly-loved nieces and nephews and more on both sides.
Ben was born on May 10, 1971, in Bryan/College Station, Texas, sharing a birthday with his Grandma, Eula Rudd. He was her first grandchild and remained her favorite. She always asked when it would be her turn for her “birthday present” to stay with her, and we are confident that they rejoiced to see each other’s smiles again after Ben’s passing. (Ben’s warm, friendly smirk and mischievous, twinkling eyes are familiar to all who are close to him.) Ben grew up in Ft. Worth, Texas, graduating from Southwest High School in 1989 prior to his family’s move to Orem, Utah in 1990. He served a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1991–1993, in the Spain, Málaga Mission, where he gained a lifelong love of Spain, the Spanish people, and the Spanish language, which he continued to speak fluently and joyfully at any opportunity.
Following his missionary service, Ben attended Brigham Young University in Provo, graduating with a B.A. in Acting in 1998. During that time he met and then married the love of his life, Aimee, on April 26, 1996. Aimee’s strength, intelligence, and fierce loyalty provided the greatest joys and stability of his life. He was a funny, kind, loving, and devoted father to their three children, who spent many of their growing up years in San Diego and Los Angeles, California. In 2000 Ben graduated with an M.F.A. in Classical Acting from the internationally renowned Old Globe Theater in San Diego. He later worked for many years as an acting instructor at the New York Film Academy at Universal Studios. Although life eventually took him to Idaho and then to Provo, Utah, the family’s love of Southern California and of Disneyland has occasioned numerous pilgrimages of return over the years.
Ben’s vocation of the soul has always been that of teacher, in which he blessed and influenced countless lives through his energetic spirit, his warm and compassionate approach, and the unique teaching emphasis he developed on vulnerability, authenticity, and connection. During his time in Provo, Utah, Ben taught numerous private acting classes, as well as many university courses at BYU and at Utah Valley University, where he was recognized as “Adjunct Faculty of the Year, College of the Arts” in 2014–15. Ben viewed his acting career as another way to teach and connect with others, giving his heart in various projects that included over 110 roles in theater, television, film, commercials, voice work, producing, and directing.
Ben also loved to write, especially the demanding work of understanding himself and others and helping his readers connect with their common humanity. He co-authored numerous books but was particularly invested in his blog posts, weaving side-splitting, self-effacing humor with warm wisdom, and demonstrating deep compassion and insight into the common joys and foibles of the human experience. Those who wish to remember him will find a wealth of moving content in his blogs, “Ben Fights Todd: The True Story of How a Man Fought Cancer and Won (Hopefully)” (benfightstodd.blogspot.com), and “Acting Without the Drama” (actingwithoutthedrama.blogspot.com). During his fight against cancer, Ben gained a stronger and clearer vision and voice as an advocate for the marginalized in U.S. society. He was a strong supporter of women’s rights, Black Lives Matter, and LGBTQ+ rights, and regularly advocated for these and other groups on his Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/ben.hopkin), where he influenced many. He viewed all of these efforts as a part of living a full and rich life of connection. In June 2020, UtahValley360 honored Ben as one of its 2020 Fab 40 (https://utahvalley360.com/2020/03/11/2020-fab-40-ben-hopkin/).
His battle against cancer included multiple series of chemotherapy treatments, a kidney removal, a stem cell transplant procedure, and radiation therapy. He was within days of a revolutionary new cancer procedure with high and rapid success rates when he died. His loving family and friends are left to miss his consistently positive influence, to rejoice in his life lived so richly and fully, and to anticipate a future reunion after this life. We wish to express gratitude for all who have offered their love, support, and admiration for Ben and the family in so many ways. We especially wish to thank Ben’s oncologist, Dr. Wallentine and his staff; thank you to the amazing doctors and practitioners at the Loveland Clinic for Blood Cancer at LDS Hospital; and a very special thanks to the nurses and techs on East 8 at LDS Hospital. They took amazing care of Ben and we will be eternally grateful for their skill, compassion, and friendship.
Those who wish to express their love for Ben by sending flowers may arrange to do so by emailing Aimee’s sister, Joy, at email@example.com. Donations can also be made to any of the causes about which Ben was passionate: The Utah Chapter of Black Lives Matter, Planned Parenthood of Utah, Encircle (a resource for LGBTQ+ youth and families in Utah), or any of the local organizations that support the same causes. And you can your show your love by MAKING SURE TO VOTE!!!
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