Longtime Norman businessman Charles Hooper was honored as a “Legend of Business” Friday by the Norman Business Association.
Hooper, owner and co-founder of Hooper Printing, came to Norman in 1947 after serving in the U.S. Army. His father, James Garl Hooper, was a printer in Hugo and had moved to Norman.
Charles was a journalism major at the University of Oklahoma and worked as a Linotype operator in the production department of the student newspaper, The Oklahoma Daily. He also worked at The Norman Transcript and between semesters at newspapers in Pawhuska and Pauls Valley. In 1950, Hooper and his father started their own printing business at 217 W. Main in Norman.
“We had $600 capital and we bought two printing presses and some hand-set type,” Hooper recalled. At age 20, his job was to call on local businesses seeking their printing work. His opening pitch was to hand out free scratch pads with the Hooper Printing name on it, something still done today.
The father-son team’s first large commercial account was printing the flavors on thousands of ice cream cartons for Gilt-Edge Dairy. They count many longtime churches, automobile dealerships, retail stores and local businesses as customers for decades.
He got involved in banking and real estate ventures in the 1960s. He was one of the original incorporators of Norman’s American Exchange Bank. Hooper was also a partner in the Little River Marina for many years and was involved with the first cable television franchise awarded in Norman.
Hooper served as president of the Norman Chamber of Commerce in 1972, president of the local chapter of Jaycees and was active in the Norman kindergartner association, Norman Kiwanis and the Red Stocking Follies.
He has watched Norman grow from a town of 16,000 when he arrived to the current 100,000 plus residents. In his college days, he worked for the city briefly, helping install the first stop light at Boyd Street and University Boulevard.
He recalls dealing with Sam Walton when he opened his 100th Wal-Mart store in Norman in the late 1960s ,and the debate over the location of I-35 through Norman.
Hooper, 80, still works full-time in the business which includes his son, Randy. They still have a Linotype, using it for small jobs on a weekly basis. He and his wife, Claudette, were married in 1954. Their daughter, Cristi Reiger and her husband, Kurt, live in Oklahoma City with their three children. Randy and his wife, Pam, and their three children live in Norman.
The club recognizes businessmen and women who have spent their professional careers in the Norman area. Past honorees include Harold Powell, Jimmy Adair, O.T. McCall, Pat Mayes, Harold Heiple, Jack Black and Maudine Holland.
The award is co-sponsored by The Transcript.