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A life dedicated to service and safety

Emily Lytle * Delaware
elytle@doverpost.com
Dover Post

When Roger Hollopeter took his first driving test, his instructor told him to go across the Ben Franklin Bridge. If he could cross the bridge during rush hour, he would earn his license. Now a resident of Dover for more than 30 years, that story has stuck with Hollopeter, who chuckled as he reflected on his life and career.

“[I’ve had] lots of experiences, lots of memories,” he said.

Although he was in the Navy for eight years, including time on the USS Randolph, the recovery ship for astronaut John Glenn’s historic flight, Hollopeter spent a lot more time on the road than on the water. As a sales representative in the dental industry for more than half a century, he logged thousands of miles.

He said he went through 33 cars. His first? A 1941 Ford that he paid $25 for.

With that driving record, it might make sense why he wanted to help others become safe drivers. A member of AARP for 30 years, Hollopeter has been an instructor and state coordinator for safe driving programs for more than two decades. Hollopeter was president of AARP Chapter 721 twice and was an AARP delegate to Legislative Hall for 10 years.

One of his greatest honors came in 2018 when he was awarded the AARP Andrus Award, which recognizes the achievements and volunteer service of an AARP member in Delaware.

“It was like the Academy Award,” Hollopeter said. “That’s what it’s equal to. It’s the highest award that you can get for community service.”

He has donated food and other necessities to Home Of The Brave in Milford and The Shepherd’s Place Shelter in Dover. He continues to donate thousands of dollars, furnishings, and food to many charities, the homeless, and others in need. For example, he has made sandwiches for the Ronald McDonald House in Wilmington.

He often teams up with civic organizations like Boy Scouts or the Masonic Lodge to lead community projects, such as holiday meals or academic scholarships.

As a member of the United Citizens Band Radio Club, he raised more than $6,500 to benefit disabled children.

Hollopeter has been a member of the Kent County Crime Watch Program for 12 years and president for six. It helps residents organize neighborhood crime watches.

Continuing his commitment to keeping the community safe, he started the company Personal Protective Products (associated with Guard Dog Security). He sells security items ranging from pepper sprays to bulletproof backpacks for children.

He has been married for 55 years and said a lot of his success and community service was done with the help of his wife and family.