Ronald N. Hopkins-Bey II, 49, of Glenside, an aide to Philadelphia City Councilwoman Cherelle L. Parker and a devout Moorish Muslim, died Wednesday, Feb. 22, of cancer at Penn Hospice at Rittenhouse.
Starting in 2012, he was a legislative assistant and transportation liaison for Parker when she was a state representative for the 200th District. When she resigned in January 2016 to run for City Council, he moved with her. After she won the election, he became the constituent services and transportation associate in her Ninth District councilmanic office.
"Ron was a wise, strategic thinker who always placed serving others first. He was a proud family man with an unwavering dedication to furthering the mission of Moorish Americans," Parker wrote in an email.
"He never hesitated to share his vast knowledge of politics, history, sports, and religious studies, as well as celebrate the cultural heritages of nations of color across the world. The space he occupied in my life will never be forgotten."
He was one of eight children born in Philadelphia to Ronald and Sueann Hopkins-Bey. He grew up in West Oak Lane and lived elsewhere in Philadelphia before moving to Glenside in January.
He graduated from Olney High School and enrolled in Temple University. He worked for Kraft Foods as a warehouse handler, and then a director of operations for Estee Lauder in Bristol, Bucks County. When manufacturing began to wane, he made a career switch to legislative affairs.
In addition to building a career, Mr. Hopkins-Bey created a family with fiancée Karen Webb, whom he had known for three decades. In 1999, they became committed to one another, and had a son, Ronald III. He doted on the boy and supported his interest in science and technology.
An important pillar of Mr. Hopkins-Bey's life was his religious identification as an American Moorish Muslim. He learned the teachings of the Prophet Noble Drew Ali and committed himself to studying the history and culture of Islam. His touchstone was the Moorish Science Temple of America, Temple No. 11, on North Fifth Street, where as a boy he attended weekly study sessions conducted by elders.
In September 2014, he was admitted to the Adept Chamber of the Moorish Science Temple of America, and assumed the title of Sheik, or temple elder.
"Ron had the opportunity to lead the classes where he once participated as a student," his family said in a remembrance.
His commitment to his faith included service on the temple's community outreach, fundraising, and historical celebrations committees.
In general, Moorish Muslims believe that Islam was founded by Moors, who were the inhabitants of the Maghreb, North Africa, the Iberian Peninsula, Sicily, and Malta during the Middle Ages.
They look to the Prophet Noble Drew Ali (1886-1929) as the founder of the Moorish Science Temple of America, and acknowledge Jesus, Mohammed, Buddha, and Confucius as prophets.
Mr. Hopkins-Bey was an avid chess player, reader, watcher of documentaries, teacher, and cook. He never missed an opportunity to educate his colleagues and community about the history of Philadelphia, international politics, or etymology, the study of words and how their meanings change over time.
In a move both courageous and foolhardy, he cheered for the Dallas Cowboys and wore their football jersey as he moved about the Philadelphia area. "He went so far as to get a debit card with the Cowboys on it," his fiancée said.
In addition to his son, mother and fiancée, he is survived by four sisters; two brothers: and many nieces and nephews.