R. Stockton B. Hopkins, 84, a chemical-company executive and one of the Main Line's most prolific gardeners, died Dec. 4 of bladder cancer at his residence at the Waverly Heights retirement community in Gladwyne.

Mr. Hopkins, known to his friends as "Stocky," was a purchasing executive with the Vick Chemical division of Richardson-Vicks, which was acquired by Procter & Gamble in 1985.

But his real avocations were gardening and cooking, said his daughter Mary G. Hopkins. Mr. Hopkins grew tomatoes, beans, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower and greens, most of which ended up on the table or in his soups.

She said that one summer, her father and his wife of more than 50 years, Elizabeth W.D. "Bessy" Hopkins, canned 124 quarts of tomatoes. "We were always eating home-grown," she said.

Mr. Hopkins was a talented and tireless cook, his daughter said, and after he retired, in 1989, he took over all the household cooking chores.

"He made an unbelievable vegetable soup," she said. He was meticulous about his broth. Anytime the family had meat for dinner, he stashed the leftover bones in the freezer for broth to be made later. Broth-making was a two-day process, the aroma pervading the Villanova home.

At least as much as the growing and cooking, Mary Hopkins said, her father took pleasure in the process.

"He was a planner," she said. "Everything he did was about the process.

"When he would go on vacation, the whole thing was planning. He would pull out maps and say, 'This is where we are going to go.' "

After retirement, he and his wife traveled frequently to Italy, took river cruises in Europe, and visited Turkey, New Zealand and Australia. He played tennis and golf and fished, and met with his friends at The Rabbit, his cooking club.

Mr. Hopkins' interest in gardening probably took root in his childhood in the Bethayres section of Lower Moreland Township, his daughter said. He attended St. Andrew's School, in Middletown, Del., where the movie

Dead Poets Society

was filmed.

He graduated in 1942, at the height of World War II. Because of a stomach condition, Mr. Hopkins was rejected for military service, but he decided to join the American Field Service, driving an ambulance in Italy and the Middle East.

"He felt terribly guilty walking around feeling healthy," Mary Hopkins said.

In 1950, Mr. Hopkins graduated from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, where he was a member of Delta Psi.

In addition to his wife and daughter, Mr. Hopkins is survived by a son, R. Stockton B. Hopkins Jr.; another daughter, Elizabeth D. Hopkins; and a niece.

A memorial service will be at 3 p.m. today at the Church of the Redeemer, Pennswood and New Gulph Roads, Bryn Mawr. He will be buried in the church cemetery.

In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to St. Andrew's School, 350 Noxontown Rd., Middletown, Del. 19709.

Contact staff writer Anthony R. Wood at 610-313-8210 or twood@phillynews.com.