Marie K. Hopkins, 84, chemist and data collector

Marie K. Hopkins, 84, of Bala Cynwyd, a chemist and later a data collector for the federal government, died Saturday, Oct. 17, of heart disease at Brandywine Assisted Living at Haverford Estates.

She had lived at the facility for the last 16 months.

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Marie K. Hopkins

Mrs. Hopkins was born in Plains, Pa., the daughter of Walter S. and Pearl Kownacki.

She graduated in 1949 from Sacred Heart High School in Plains and four years later earned a bachelor's degree in chemistry from Misericordia University in Dallas, Pa.

Her first job was as a chemist at the former Smith, Kline & French in Philadelphia.

Mrs. Hopkins loved taking cruises with her friends on the Queen of Bermuda. On one trip, she met British citizen Peter J. Hopkins, the ship's second mate.

After a brief courtship, they married in 1959. The couple lived in England for several years before returning to Philadelphia to start a family.

After raising two children, Mrs. Hopkins returned to work, this time with the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics in Philadelphia. She visited the same stores, gas stations, and markets each month, collecting the prices of goods.

In 1990, an Inquirer reporter found her browsing in the Reading Terminal Market. Apples were up, but the price of bananas was down, she found.

The figures she noted were some of the 100,000 prices tracked each month in the compiling of the nation's Consumer Price Index, a measure of inflation.

Mrs. Hopkins continued the work for 20 years. She retired in 1995.

In retirement, Mrs. Hopkins and her husband made frequent trips to Europe and the Caribbean.

A devout Catholic, Mrs. Hopkins was a longtime member of St. Matthias Catholic Church in Bala Cynwyd. She served on the Altar Guild. As a member of the Ministry of the Sick, she transported elderly parishioners to appointments and took them grocery shopping.

Besides her husband of 56 years, she is survived by son Christopher; daughter Susan; and five grandchildren.

A visitation at 10:30 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 31, was to be followed by an 11 a.m. Funeral Mass at St. Matthias Catholic Church, 128 Bryn Mawr Ave., Bala Cynwyd, Pa. 19004. Burial is private.

Donations may be made to the church at the address above.

bcook@phillynews.com