James Daniel Hopkins was elected the third Republican county executive in 1953.
During his term as county executive, Westchester acquired a 370-acre tract of the Hartford Estate in Valhalla as the permanent site for Westchester Community College and land for the Dunwoodie Golf Course in Yonkers and for the Saxon Woods Pool in White Plains. Formation of the Westchester Parkway Authority led to modernization of the county parkway system. He created a county program for the aged, introduced a permanent election registration system and established the Ruth Taylor Institute for the chronically ill. He spearheaded efforts that led to the building of a new county courthouse in White Plains. After one term he left the county executive's office to pursue his real love in public service: the law.
Mr. Hopkins was born March 24, 1911. He attended a one-room school in Armonk and Pleasantville High School, then graduated from Columbia College in 1931 and Columbia Law School in 1933. Mr. Hopkins began his political career as councilman for the Town of North Castle (1939-1943), was elected supervisor of that town (1944-1953) and served as chairman of the Board of Supervisors 1952-1953. In 1960, he was appointed to the state Supreme Court and was twice elected to a 14-year term. He served as a justice in the Appellate Division of the New York Supreme Court from 1962 until his retirement in 1981, then continued as Interim Dean of Pace University School of Law from 1982-1983.
Judge Hopkins was the only Westchester resident to lead all three branches of county government: legislative, executive and judicial. He died on Jan. 4, 1996 after a series of strokes.