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Aug. 7, 2012
A Northwest Missouri State University alumnus has established a music scholarship in his wife’s memory to assist future music majors achieve their college goals.
John P. Pope, a 1951 Northwest graduate, established the Betty Jean Lambert Pope Memorial Music Scholarship with a $20,000 gift annuity. The scholarship will be awarded upon John’s death.
Recipients must be full-time students at Northwest who major in music and maintain a minimum 2.5 GPA. Preference will be given to graduates of a high school in Andrew, Atchison, Buchanan, Holt or Nodaway counties. Recipients will be chosen by a selection committee consisting of faculty members in the Northwest Department of Fine and Performing Arts, with academic achievement and financial need as leading criteria.
Having met on a blind date, John and Betty Jean were married 57 years before her death in 2008. Because Betty Jean could not finish college, John sought to establish a scholarship in hopes that it will help future Bearcats complete their degrees.
“Betty would have loved to have gone on to college and take more classes, but she just couldn’t afford it, and so I hope something like this might be appropriate in her name,” John said. “I grew up in Maryville and obtained my education there, and this allows me to give back to the community that afforded me the things that I have. I always enjoyed going back to the community, and you always go back to your roots when you think about it.”
John graduated from Maryville High School in 1943. The next year, he joined the Naval Air Corps and served until July of 1946. Upon his return to Maryville, he attended Northwest, graduating in 1951 with his degree in secondary education.
By that time, he had met the love of his life in Betty Jean, a “farm girl” who grew up in nearby Wilcox. She attended Horace Mann High School on the Northwest campus, graduating in 1949.
“Betty always loved to sing and play the piano,” John recalled. “She was a member of a quartet in high school, and they sang in various functions and were quite popular during their high school years.”
After high school, Betty Jean attended the University of Missouri-Columbia for one year but did not return. She and John were married in February of 1951.
John went on to teaching stints in Sedalia and Princeton, Minn., before joining an insurance company for which he handled crop and farm insurance. His insurance career spanned 30 years and took the Pope family to Kansas City, Mo.; Omaha, Neb.; and St. Paul, Minn., before John retired in 1989.
Betty Jean also worked for 10 years as a secretary at the former Lakewood Community College in White Bear Lake, Minn.The Popes raised three children together before retiring to Arkansas in 1992.
Mark Hornickel, Communication Manager
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Northwest Missouri State University
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