John Hooper

John Warren Hooper

BOZEMAN — John Warren Hooper "Little John" or "LJ" passed away on May 14, 2013, at his home in Bozeman. He was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia in October 2011, and with the help of his immediate family and friends, he fought his cancer to the bitter end.

John was born March 2, 1942, in Big Timber, to Duane and Dorothy Hooper. He grew up on the Boulder River south of Big Timber, where he enjoyed a country-style childhood, which introduced him to raising mink, tending to sick lambs, chickens and puppies, milking cows, riding horses and gardening. John learned at an early age that if he worked hard, stayed out of trouble and helped with chores, there would be time for hunting and fishing!

After graduating from Big Timber High School in 1960, John received a football scholarship at NDSS in Wahpeton, N.D. He played football for 2 years at NDSS before transferring to Casper College in Wyoming, where he received a rodeo scholarship. After Casper, he worked various jobs, returning to Bozeman in 1967, where he continued to work various jobs before deciding to go into business for himself. He opened Little John's Bar in downtown Bozeman in 1968, and moved to a new location on West Aspen, where Mixers now stands, in 1972. A few months later, he opened Hip Shots next door to the new Little Johns. He opened the Hide-A-Way Lounge and Liquor Store in 1974.

He served in the US Army Reserve, and was a member of the Montana Tavern Association, where he served as president during 1983 and 1984. He was a national director of the National Licensed Beverage Association for 10 years during the late 1980s and early 1990s. He was a member of the Bobcat Rodeo Booster Club and a charter member of the Montana State Quarterback Club. John loved all sports, but especially Bobcat football, where he gave endlessly of his time preparing food for the MSU-QBC tailgate parties during home games.

His love of sports and the outdoors took him across the US, Mexico, Canada and Alaska. LJ was an avid fisherman and hunter, and had a trophy room filled with taxidermy from his hunting and fishing expeditions. His hunting trophies include most of the animals in the Boone and Crocket North American book. There wasn't a river too deep, a mountain too high or weather too cold or too hot that could keep LJ from pursuing and taking a trophy. When it came to hunting and fishing, LJ was the first person up in the morning, the last person in in the evening and the last person to take his line out of the water. It mattered who would shoot the biggest buck or catch the longest fish, John was a dedicated and determined outdoorsman, and won more than his share of pots.

John raised a huge garden and had chickens galore, and the produce from the garden and eggs from the chickens were enjoyed by his family and friends far and wide. He loved to cook and was meticulous in the preparation of his superb cuisine. LJ's friends especially enjoyed his cooking, and no matter the size of the meal or magnitude of the mess, they were always ready to do the clean-up while John relaxed and enjoyed one of his favorite beverages.

LJ loved to play gin rummy and was a good player. The points added up, and now the friends whom he played may be able to retire since John isn't around.

During the winter months John enjoyed his home in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. It was there that he spent time fishing for marlin and other large billfish as well as other salt water game and sport fish. Again he was after the biggest fish in the ocean. When he wasn't fishing, he was working on his charter boat, the Delta Tango Too, or booking fishing charters for friends and clients.

People liked John and he made friends everywhere he went. He affected people in a positive way, and everyone had fun when John was around. The stories would fill an encyclopedia. He loved children of all ages and children loved John. They too had fun when John was around.

John fought his cancer for almost 19 months and was blessed to have his son Jed at his side during the entire battle. His sister Janie and her husband, Chuck Karnop also played a huge part in support and encouragement for John during his battle.

He was preceded in death by his parents, Duane Hooper and Dorothy Hooper.

He is survived by his son, Jed of Bozeman; his stepdaughter, Courtney (Chris) Hartenstein of Las Vegas; his sister, Janie (Chuck) Karnop; his niece, JoAnne (Chris) Graff; his great niece, Lauren Anne Graff all of Bozeman; his dear friend, Melody Ross of Great Falls; as well as many cousins and special friends.

A tribute to John and his mother, Dorothy (May 4, 2013) was held on Sunday, May 19, at St. Mark's Episcopal Church in Big Timber. A celebration of his life will be held at a future date.

Memorials may be made to the Crazy Mountain Museum; P.O. Box 83; Big Timber, MT 59011.

Arrangements are in the care of Dokken-Nelson Funeral Service.

Condolences may be posted online at www.dokkennelson.com and/or www.greatfallstribune.com.

Published in Great Falls Tribune from May 23 to May 26, 2013