Colleagues, family, friends honor retiring Vicksburg surgeon

Published 11:00 pm Wednesday, September 20, 2017

More than 100 people packed the atrium at Merit Health River Region Medical Center Wednesday to pay tribute to one of the county’s and one of the state’s most respected physicians, Dr. Briggs Hopson Jr.

Hopson is retiring from his practice after 50 years of service to the county’s medical community and its residents.

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Ironically, the program coincided with his 80th birthday Wednesday.

The program also featured the dedication of the W. Briggs Hopson, Jr. Surgery Center at the medical center.

“They don’t make physicians and surgeons like Dr. Hopson any more,” said surgeon Dr. E.B. Ferris. “He’s been a real mentor to all of us, particularly me, and he’s guided us through our careers here in Vicksburg. He’s sort of a dying breed of general surgeons. He’s well respected, and he will be sorely missed by the hospital and the community.”

David Blackledge, a member of the River Region Board of Directors and chairman of the board for the Mississippi Pageant, said Hopson has been an outstanding surgeon and medical director in the community and an influence in the Mississippi Pageant.

“When I think of the Miss Mississippi Pageant, I think of Dr. Briggs Hopson. He and his wife Pat have been so instrumental in it, and I certainly attribute the success of the pageant here in Vicksburg to him and his dedication and commitment to all of the young ladies to provide scholarships to them throughout our state, and other states.

“He’s just been a mentor for all of us in the Miss Mississippi Pageant family.”

Dr. Lee Giffin thanked Hopson for his service as mentor and for the care he gave patients referred to him.

“Thank you for the opportunity to be around you and learn from you all these years,” he said.

“This man has opened up so many doors of opportunity for health care for this state,” Mayor George Flaggs Jr. said, recalling Hopson’s efforts at improving Medicaid for the poor in the state.

“Through your legacy, because of what you’ve done in the area of health care, not only in this community but in the state and America, you have spoke volumes. You have left your print in fame to open those doors to opportunities for those people who could not afford health care. Those folks that had no access to health care, those folks who needed it the most. I shall never forget that.”

Sen. Briggs Hopson III, “I never saw my dad upset going to work. I never once in 50 years saw my dad angry or sad or going to work groaning as he walked out the door.

“My dad never complained. He was the hardest working man that I have ever known, and yet we never longed for time with my dad.”

He said he and hid brother and sisters admire him growing up. He said he felt a sense of pride when patients would come up to him when they were out and thanked his father.

“Dad loved this community and this state. He was so proud of Vicksburg and this state, and he did everything he could to make our community a better place to live. He just loved people,” Hopson said.

Speaking to the hospital staff and employees, he told them, “You all are very special to him. You have meant more to him than he has to you, and I want to thank you for recognizing him.”

Asking people to turn from the atrium to the balcony on the north side of the building’s interior to unveil the W. Briggs Hopson, Jr. Surgery Center sign, Benjamin Richaud, River Region chief executive officer told Hopson, “After 50 years, we thought perhaps another plaque, or another certificate wasn’t enough to express the gratitude that we have for what you’ve done.”

“We wanted to do something more lasting for you, and we wanted to make you a permanent part of our organization.”

“I never expected anything like this,” Dr. Hopson said. “It’s really all about being able to save a life. It’s really about putting your heart in it.”

About John Surratt

John Surratt is a graduate of Louisiana State University with a degree in general studies. He has worked as an editor, reporter and photographer for newspapers in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post staff since 2011 and covers city government. He and his wife attend St. Paul Catholic Church and he is a member of the Port City Kiwanis Club.

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