My Contribution: I came to Harrisburg from Philadelphia in 1911 at the request of Joseph L. Thomas to serve the Black community in funerals and services. I founded Hooper Memorial Home, one of the first African American funeral homes in central Pennsylvania. I also served as a charter member of Forster Street YMCA and faithfully served Bethel A.M.E. Church as a trustee.
My Legacy: I assumed a unique role in Harrisburg as the owner of a prominent funeral home that served African Americans. I was not just a successful entrepreneur, but I also actively served Harrisburg as an engaged person of faith and had a particular passion for the Forster Street YMCA. Hooper Memorial Home, Inc. still exists today as one of the most prominent funeral homes in Central Pennsylvania and is supervised by my granddaughter, Angela Ulen.
About Me: “Walter J. Hooper Sr. came to Harrisburg from Philadelphia and was recognized by the local media for being on the cutting edge of human preservation and bringing the most advanced embalming techniques with him.” — “The Hooper Legacy” (Hooper Funeral Home).
Full Name: Walter Jacob Bertram Hooper
Birth Date: August 11, 1886
Death Date: July 15, 1939
Place of Birth: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Race: “Mulatto” (1920 Federal Census) and “Negro” (1930 Federal Census)
Places of Residence: 604 Forster Street, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.
Connection to the Old Eighth Ward: Resided near Eighth Ward at 604 Forster Street; served numerous residents by providing funeral services; first African American funeral home at 604 Forster Street, the area of the city where many Eighth Warders migrated after their displacement.
Family Members: Father: Thomas A. Hooper. Mother: Eleanora Lee Hooper. Wife: Alice Price Hooper. Children: Eleanor Hooper, Millicent Hooper, and Walter Hooper, Jr.
Education: Temple University; Echels College of Embalming; trained as an assistant for an elite undertaker in Philadelphia for four years.
Occupations: Funeral Director. Undertaker operator.
Church Membership: Bethel A.M.E. Church (trustee).
Activism: Charter member of Forster Street YMCA; charter member of Captial City Undertakers Association.
Connections: Connected to dozens of individuals listed among the 100 Voices; served as undertaker for a majority of the funerals of the individuals; and hosted the funerals of some of these individuals in his funeral parlor.