03 Jan Meet Good Shepherd: Bill & Marge Pope
Pope has seen a lot in his time at Good Shepherd Lutheran Church since he joined back in the late 1950’s.Bill joined with his wife after moving into the Orchard Ridge neighborhood. He soon became the choir director and volunteered his services at Good Shepherd for more than 20 years.“Our switch in membership to Good Shepherd was a natural move,” said Pope. “We found the same friendly, good-hearted people there as we had left at the old Swedish church.” Bill previously attended Central Lutheran Church at 402 E. Mifflin Street downtown Madison which later became Messiah Church.
Sharing Artistic Talents
Bill’s experience as an art director also played a key role in the growth of the church. His illustrations were used for everything from stewardship campaigns to Christmas pageants for decades. In his career, Bill served as the Art Director for the famed publication Wisconsin Trails for thirty-two years. Upon his retirement from the magazine, a 1993 recognition of his contributions noted, “Perhaps what is most remarkable is that for the first twenty years, Bill did all this work for Wisconsin Trails at night – he worked full time as an art director for a publisher of business magazines by day.” The featured continued, “In everything, he is the professional, the calm in the eye of the storm.” To this day, Bill still enjoys utilizing his many artistic talents including creating greeting cards for family members and neighbors in his apartment complex.
A Choir Connection
Pope has experienced all sorts of emotions since he joined Good Shepherd more than 60 years ago. One of the biggest was when his first wife, Barb, died while he was serving as choir director.“I was grieving the loss of my wife, Barbara, and was just plain lost without her. I tried to quit my position as choir director, but Pastor Peterson encouraged me to stay with it.” Pope stayed as choir director, and four years later, a woman named Marjorie decided to join.“Margie joined the choir, I knew who she was, but didn’t know her well. Well, I got to know her better! She took me out of the doldrums and has been my ever-loving wife these past 34 years,” said Pope.
Pope also had to deal with a situation when the church board decided to replace him as choir director with a paid musician. Many people might have left angry. But not Pope. He stayed around and remained in the choir until the last few years. His wife says his good sense of humor has served him well. “He had the ability to tell stories,” said Margie Pope.
Grateful to Belong
Bill can’t attend as much in person these days due to health issues. Both of the Popes miss hearing music weekly at church. But he still feels like he belongs here. “I’m just thankful that Good Shepherd was there,” said Pope. “I was thankful I was able to participate in its growth.”
“It gives me a good feeling that if you put a lot of effort into something and it succeeds, that’s thanks enough.”
A version of this article appeared in the January 2018 Edition of The Messenger