David Elliott Hooper, 88, of Georgetown, Texas, passed away peacefully on May 28, 2023, after a long battle with cancer. As in life, his beloved wife Martha was by his side as he passed.
David was born on January 3, 1935, to Raymond and Doris Hooper in East Rutherford, New Jersey. After attending the US Naval Academy through an appointment from Congress (1953-56), he completed his studies by graduating from University of Pennsylvania as part of the class of 1961.
After graduating with a degree in International Relations, David began a storied career in the horse racing industry that spanned over 60 years. During his career he held many positions in varying capacities including as a regulator where he acted as a steward at the state and racetrack levels. While collaborating with his fellow horseman, he was often referred to respectfully as ‘Judge’. David was recognized widely as ‘fair’ in his stewardship and interactions with fellow horsemen, while prioritizing the ethics of the game and safety of the jockeys.
In addition to his positions as a regulator, David also held positions in executive administration at the Thoroughbred Breeders of Kentucky (1970-76), the Illinois Thoroughbred Breeders (1984-86), and the Texas Thoroughbred Association (1997-2012). One of his crowning accomplishments included a special assignment to lead the Smithsonian FolkLife Festival (1973) showcasing the state of Kentucky in Washington DC. The festival included displays of Kentucky heritage such as arts and crafts, tobacco, bourbon, and a straightaway for horse racing beside the Washington Monument.
David attended/covered over 40 Kentucky Derby races as a fan and a commentator. The most memorable derby was in 1973 when Secretariat won and began what would become a coveted Triple Crown achievement. Throughout his career he acted as a guest commentator, writer and race caller for various outlets.
In 1995, David met Martha Hufford at the Texas Racing Commission. He and Martha soon married and enjoyed 25 years as husband and wife. They spent many years traveling across the United States, while enjoying various hobbies.
Throughout his life, David was an avid sports enthusiast. He particularly enjoyed playing tennis, which translated to a lifetime sport for he and his daughters. His love of Philadelphia sports teams, both at the college and professional level, was well known. He had an endearing interest in his grandchildren’s achievements through sports and academics, including watching films of lacrosse and football games.
David was predeceased by his father and mother Raymond and Doris Hooper, his beloved brother Paul and his wife Kathy, as well as his grandson Ethan. He is survived by his wife Martha, Sara Hufford (step daughter), Warren Hufford (step son), Cynthia Slachta (daughter and wife of Michael), Suzanne Hooper (daughter), Jennifer Kash (daughter and wife of Brian), Kathleen Slachta (granddaughter), Elle Slachta (granddaughter), Grace Slachta (granddaughter), Mick Slachta (grandson), Bryce Kash (grandson), Paige Kash (granddaughter), Bradley Hufford (grandson), Aron Hufford (grandson) and his wife Kara, Haley Hufford (granddaughter). Elizabeth Sweens (granddaughter), Hannah Sweens (granddaughter), as well as five great grandchildren.
Services will be held at Grace Episcopal Church, 1314 E. University Ave., Georgetown, TX on July 8th at 11:00am. In lieu of flowers, the family requests donations be made to the Race Track Chaplaincy of America (www.rtcanational.org/give) or the American Cancer Society.