Saturday, January 8, 2011

Quite the man

I’ve been to Texas twice in the last two weeks; one for a work meeting, and unfortunately, one for the funeral of Ronny’s grandpa, L.S. “Bill” Pope. Grandpa Pope truly was quite the man!

Not only was he a Second Lieutenant in the Army Air Corps during World War II, he served as as a B-24 Bomber pilot that flew 23 missions over Germany.

I also think he’s quite the man because he was so involved in agriculture. After coming back from service, Grandpa Pope finished his B.S. degree (1947) in Animal Science from Michigan State University and completed M.S. (1949) and Ph.D. (1952) degrees from Oklahoma State University. He joined the faculty at Oklahoma State University as a Beef Cattle Professor and served as Department Head. In 1968, he accepted the position of Associate Dean of Agriculture at Texas A&M University. From 1976 to 1986, he was Dean of Agriculture at New Mexico State University. After retiring from NMSU, he and Grandma Pope moved back to College Station and he began the TALL (Texas Agricultural Lifetime Leadership) Program. He was Executive Secretary in the IAPAL (International Association for Programs of Agricultural Leadership) organization until his death. Grandpa did international programs with Argentina, Ethiopia, Egypt, Iraq and Israel. He also received numerous awards during his career. He was a member of the Alpha Gamma Rho Hall of Fame and was a Fellow in the American Society of Animal Science. He was admitted to the International Hall of Fame for Adult and Continuing Education at the University of Oklahoma and served as a Director for the Central Bank for Cooperatives. He was nationally recognized as “Agriculture’s Ambassador of Goodwill”.

He has a plaque at the Animal Science building at Texas A&M for him as well for his service to agriculture, the University, as an instructor and for his efforts in the TALL program.

Grandpa Pope was laid to rest in Marlow, Oklahoma, where Grandpa Pope's family farm is located. Ronny took me out to the farm and it has an amazing history!

The farm was purchased by Vance Mershon (Ronny's Great Grandfather - his Grandma Polly's father) who came from Missouri in the 30's. He too was involved in agriculture - he received his B.S. degree in Animal Science from the University of Missouri. The farm has been home to crops, sheep, cattle and horses. Ronny wasn't sure the history of the wagon in the pasture, but it sure looks historic sitting in position in the pasture.

It really is a pretty landscape, and in the middle of the pasture sits Ronny's future dream - a 1968 turquoise-blue pickup. His great grandpa bought it brand new to drive around the farm and it has a "three on the tree" gear shift. He hopes to someday restore it and have it become a "going to church" truck.

Great Grandpa Mershon built a house on the farm that was burnt down by high school students in the 90's - but the skeleton still stands. Seeing pictures of what it used to look like - it was a very nice house back in the day.
Another neat part of the farm were the funny looking huts. Growing up in the Southwest, I immediately thought they were made by Indians for baking! Ronny said Great Grandpa Mershon made the one on the left as a dog house, and the one on the right is a well-pump house. Innovative nonetheless!
It was a great trip to travel to Texas and Oklahoma, despite the circumstances. It gives us hope though, knowing that Grandpa Pope is celebrating in Heaven and that one day we will see him again!


Sadie Lee. said...

This is a really neat story, I love family histories! My grandpa's brother is a retired Agronomy prof at Purdue!

Kelsey J. Pope said...

Thanks, Sadie! Glad I found your blog, too. Go K-State!