Obituary : Gloria R. (Downing) Pope
Gloria Ruth Downing Pope was born in Roanoke, Va., October 23, 1924. After winning battles against various illnesses over recent years she died quietly in her sleep on her adopted island of Martha's Vineyard on February 28.
Gloria Pope graduated from Whittell High School of Roanoke, Va., where she was fortunate enough to attend her 60th class reunion in 1991. After high school, she excelled at Howard University in Washington, D.C. She then moved on to obtain her masters in education at Boston University. It was during that time that she first visited Martha's Vineyard and met, then later married, her husband, State Representative Lincoln G. Pope Jr., the first black democrat to be elected to the Massachusetts House of Representatives. They had three sons.
Gloria Pope was an outstanding tennis player and was amongst the top teenage females in the national Afro-American tennis circuit. This enhanced the immediate attraction to Lincoln Pope Jr., also an outstanding tennis player. They met at Shearer Cottage, a family owned business in Oak Bluffs since the late 1800s, where Lincoln worked. Soon after their marriage, they co-founded the Oak Bluffs Tennis Club, which held Labor Day tournaments for over 40 years.
Gloria Pope was co-founder and first national president of the Circle-ets Social Club, which today has chapters in over 30 cities throughout the United States. Gloria belonged to the Delta Sigma Theta Sorority and was also a member of The Girlfriends and The Links, a charitable national organization.
Gloria worked in the Boston High School system for over 20 years as a physical education teacher, basketball coach, and guidance counselor, mostly at Brighton High School.
Gloria Pope retired to a house she had built on Martha's Vineyard in 1980, a year after her husband died, and she has been here ever since.
Gloria Pope was an avid sports fan and was thrilled to see the Red Sox win the World Series, the Celtics and their new championship, and the Patriots' recent dynasty. And her friends knew her ever-so-famous phrase whenever Boston teams won: "They were lucky." Also, she cried at the election of Barack Obama to the presidency, not that she was touched by a black being elected president of the United States but that she lived long enough to see it.
Gloria Pope is pre-deceased by her husband Lincoln G. Pope Jr.; her sister Eloise; and her brother Lylburn. She is survived by her brother Lewis; her three sons Lincoln, Lance, and Leland; and her four grandchildren Lincoln, Michael, Morgan, and Taylor.
Per her wishes, Gloria was cremated and laid to rest next to her husband with a private ceremony at Oak Grove Cemetery in her beloved community of Oak Bluffs.
There will be a memorial service this summer for all family and friends. An announcement will be forthcoming.
The family requests in lieu of flowers that any contributions be sent to the Hospice of Martha's Vineyard, P.O. Box 2549, Oak Bluffs, MA 02557, whose staff showed care and concern that can only be described as wonderful and godsent.