They held a parade and only Billy came to it.
Billy Hopkins was hesitant to have a retirement party due to the COVID-19 pandemic after working for Farm Bureau Insurance in downtown Clarksdale for 43 years, so friends decided to just drive by and send him off with a reverse parade.
Hopkins began working for Farm Bureau Insurance in 1976, spent his last 41 years as office manager and retired Tuesday, June 30. His daughters, Ginna Abbey and Lou Ann Sanders, both of Byhalia, put together the event recognize his achievements.
The Clarksdale Police Department escorted the line of cars in the parade from the Coahoma County Higher Education Center to Farm Bureau Insurance on Sunflower Avenue.
Hopkins was “totally shocked” when he saw the surprise parade come toward his office.
“I was surprised,” he said. “I had no clue. I had no idea. I heard the sirens. Bo, my agent, said, ‘Look at this.’ I thought it was going to be a wreck or something like this and then I walked out.”
Abbey said she is so proud of her dad
“Because of the health concerns, he did not want to have a big party, period,” Abbey said. “He didn’t want to have any big gathering. We’re trying to do something that we could celebrate him. After 43 years with Farm Bureau, it’s kind of unheard of these days and we definitely wanted to celebrate him, so we came with a drive-by retirement parade.”
“I left Memphis to get a job here,” said Hopkins reflecting on starting at Farm Bureau Insurance. “I wanted to come home. They called me and said, ‘Would you like to sell insurance?’”
Hopkins covered the Coahoma and Tunica county areas. Bo Armstrong and Bruce Williams are the other agents and Pat Rankin was Hopkins’ secretary for 36 years. Armstrong and Williams are expected to take over Hopkins’ responsibilities in the immediate future.
Friends in the parade brought fishing poles and other items reflecting Hopkins’ love for bass fishing.
“That’s my hobby, but I’ve got to find something more than that,” Hopkins said.
Abbey expressed similar sentiments about her father’s fishing and the parade itself.
“It was such a bigger turnout than we ever thought,” she said. “It just proves what we’ve always thought of our dad in that he’s very well respected and that he loves to fish. He’s going fishing.” Ginna
Hopkins will look back on his career fondly.
“It’s been a good run,” he said. “I’ve really enjoyed it.”