James Paul “Hopp” Wheeler 1936-2024


James Paul “Hopp” Wheeler passed away on May 14, 2024 in Tyler, surrounded by family. 

Hopp was born at home in Edgewood on Nov. 21, 1936 to Hansel Cleburne Wheeler and Gladys Inez (Barber) Wheeler.

He grew up in the Pine Mills Community, was baptized at Mt. Pisgah Baptist Church and attended Hawkins High School. An outstanding baseball pitcher, he accepted a scholarship offer to Paris Junior College, where he was voted Mr. Paris Junior College by fellow students. He completed undergraduate studies at the University of Texas, majoring in mathematics.

Upon graduation, he married Patricia Ann Johnson of Hawkins on March 3, 1960. Completing his military service, Hopp worked first for Western Geophysical in Shreveport, then Texas Instruments in Dallas. While with T.I. he served as an optical engineer and project manager in the Military Products Division, developing with Buddy Dean the world’s most advanced computer-assisted lens design program.

At night, he attended law school at Southern Methodist University, ultimately choosing to enter private practice. Hopp was the first attorney to open a law office in North Mesquite. He was chairman of the board of Mesquite Community Hospital as well as the Mesquite Airport Board, having become an accomplished licensed pilot. His peers elected him president of the Mesquite Bar Association, and he was a candidate for District 33-I of the Texas Legislature in 1973. With Ward Paxton, among others, he founded Spectronics, Inc., a successful optical design and manufacturing company.

Together with his son, Keith, Hopp built Wheeler and Wheeler, P.C. in Rockwall, then he returned home to East Texas and practiced law with his son, Jim.

Hopp was happily married for 63 years and was preceded in death by his wife, Pat. He is survived by his sister, Brenda; four children, Keith, Jim, Clark and Sherri and their beloved spouses, Tina, Becky, Misty and Stephen; and seven grandchildren.  

James Paul Wheeler held malice toward no person: he was a loyal friend, a kind soul and a just man. He will be missed by all whose lives he touched.