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Brian Patrick Cork is living the Authentic Life

taken aback by Bill Pope


I first met William “Bill” Pope when our daughters – my Haley Anne, and his Madison, were in the same Brownies troop.

During a Brownies Father and Daughters night event (I think it was at Alpharetta Methodist) we found ourselves askance at the stiffness of the Daddies and their daughters surrounding us. So, with reckless abandon, and certainly more than a few ‘hoops and hollers’, we proceeded to hurl ourselves down hallways, vying to see whom could out distance the other, sliding on our backsides.

Our daughters were delighted, and Bill and I each had a friend for life.

I often found myself, happily, taken aback by Bill. He was a gentleman – rather along the lines of Walker Percy (The Moviegoer, and The Last Gentleman), I think. And, I always tried to refer to him as my: “Red-headed Errol Flynn-type friend Bill”. He was dapper, soft-spoken and witty. Charming to be sure.

Bill often annoyed me, and he knew it, by “popping in” to visit with me at my offices. I would always find myself exasperated (my staff-driven calendar is both legendary and notorious for it’s lack of flexibility). But, then we would start our visit, and time would go by, and I always found myself a better man for the time well spent.

The last two times I saw Bill he came by with his eleven year old son Bryce so he could update me on their adventures together. I recall Bill standing their with his hand on Bryce’s shoulder, naught but the very picture of pride; his joy evident, and relishing every minute he could share with a friend and his son. A few weeks later Bill drove over a vintage Land Rover he thought I might like.

And, I think it will be moments when I see older cars that I’ll realize Bill’s immortalization, for me. He liked older cars that bordered on vintage. I always felt he valued the qualities of those cars as a reflection of himself. They shared qualities that included, but could never be limited to: reliability, integrity and style.

So… That’s how I’ll remember Bill, best… A man of virtu, flair and style; quick with a firm handshake; and, committed to Jane, their family, hearth, home and community.

The last communication I had from Bill was only this past Saturday night. He had sent me a text message, eager to catch up over a project we were involved with. Bill was one of the few men that could draw me out on a weekend. So, I was looking forward to calling him on the way to a soccer match with Haley Anne. I knew that afterwards I would tell Haley Anne a story; possibly about Bill and me, or at least some other friend, because that’s what Bill made me do best, in this case – be inspired by a great friend.

…but, we lost Bill and Bryce later that night. When Joanne told me numbness selfishly crawled up my legs and desperately tries to continue it’s reconciliation with my heart.

Going forward, we need to make sure we remember to reflect Bill well so that his legacy is our beacon.

This is me raising my hand.

Peace to my Brothers and Sisters.

Brian Patrick Cork

29 Comments to

“taken aback by Bill Pope”

  1. Avatar March 30th, 2010 at 6:54 pm Sissy Williams Says:

    Beautifully said. Bill was a wonderful man, father and husband; both he and Bryce will be sorely missed by all. May God surround Jane and Madison with comfort and peace that only He can provide. Such a tragedy.

  2. Avatar March 30th, 2010 at 8:25 pm Brian Patrick Cork Says:

    Hello Sissy. And, welcome here.

    We can’t say enough good things about Bill Pope. And, his son Bryce was an emerging beacon in his own right. Now it’s up to us to reflect and represent them in the community so their memories are amplified and inspiration best realized.


  3. Avatar March 30th, 2010 at 11:24 pm Jill Lord Says:

    Thank you for sharing your deep felt affections…we all are still reeling…numb…yet, turning to and trusting in our God. His ways are not our ways…a tragedy to make all of us stop, think, and live life differently.
    God bless you and comfort you.

  4. Avatar March 31st, 2010 at 5:49 am Brian Patrick Cork Says:

    Thank you Jill.

    Wherever Bill and Bryce may find themselves it must certainly include our hearts and minds. And, as long as we can keep them there, we’ll have a baring point and a worthy standard.


  5. Avatar April 1st, 2010 at 7:17 am Kelly Cooper Mallinger Says:

    I did not know Bill, but am a high school friend of Jane. Knowing what a beautiful person Jane is both inside and out, I could only imagine what kind of man she would marry. I have been delighted to reconnect with Jane via facebook over the last year, and enjoyed seeing HER delight in her wonderful family. I am heartbroken over her loss… thank you for this wonderful tribute to her husband, a man I certainly wish I had had the opportunity to meet. I am comforted to know that Jane obviously has an amazing support system in your community that will wrap her and Madison in their loving arms…

  6. Avatar April 1st, 2010 at 8:09 am Brian Patrick Cork Says:

    Hello Kelly.

    If we must be judged, let it be by those around us. So, Jane (and Madison) is a terrific reflection of Bill (and Bryce). Wherever he is – it begins in my own heart and memory, and has clearly set a standard for a baring point. And, isn’t it neat that you’ve reconnected with Jane and new bonds are formed. Sometimes we think “chain-of-events” can break us while, in reality, those linking events create opportunities to reflect and represent what can be the best of us.


  7. Avatar April 2nd, 2010 at 6:19 am Anthony Mari Says:

    A beutiful testimony to a friend. Bill sounded like a man I a sorry I never had a chance too know. In this Easter season Bill, Bryce, Jane and Madison will be in our prayer. We should all be comforted to know “That This Day Bill and Bryce Are With Christ In Paradise”.

  8. Avatar April 2nd, 2010 at 6:30 am Brian Patrick Cork Says:

    Thanks Anthony.

    I’ll note, and do it here, that Marcus Crocket came back from Bill and Bryce’s funeral with the comment: “I was amazed at the testimonies around Bryce. It made me understand what a great influence in his life Bill and Jane were. They were READY. They lived their lives like Jesus”.

    Wow. Powerful words around a man with a life well-lived.


  9. Avatar April 2nd, 2010 at 7:08 am Elizabeth Diehl Says:


    Thank you so much for sharing this endearing testament to Bill and Bryce. I have felt that there are really no words at this time to convey our deep sadness at this tragic event yet, yesterday in that Sanctuary through the wonderful, heartfelt and at times funny eulogies and songs… I truly felt the presence of our Savior in that room and you could feel the love surrounding all of our wounded hearts. My prayer is that Jane, Madison and the entire Pope family feel God’s presence in the days, weeks and months to come.

  10. Avatar April 2nd, 2010 at 7:10 am Tracy Evens Says:

    Just beautiful. I went home Wednesday night and immediately read your blog. You know how much your words meant to Jane – I heard her tell you myself.

    Bill & Bryce left a legacy and an example of the end goal in a life lived to its fullest: To love, and be loved. They both left good memories and lasting impressions on those in your life. What an awesome message to us all to never let a day go by that isn’t guided by those principles.

    The service on Wednesday included a beautiful song that I had never heard but will now never forget. Part of the lyrics:

    “Because it’s not who you knew

    And it’s not what you did

    It’s how you live.”

  11. Avatar April 2nd, 2010 at 7:55 am chris Lynch Says:

    I first met Bill back in the late 80’s, the very first meeting was truely an impresionable one. He was bright as a star and had the ambition of a Gladiator. He was what I call a car queer. He wanted to buy old vintage english sports cars. I gave him a chance with only a handshake and from then it was on. Bill proceeded to do his thng, he sold them all over the world and we both made real good money. After a point he got into his desired profession and got married, we lost touch for a few years then again he came back into my life, this time with his family. It was as if we saw each other on a weekly basis. Wow, I was amazed how they were so gracious and the children were real kids. Very refreshing. Jane and Bill somehow had the book on how to raise children. Not to be to lenghty here. I am going to miss my dear friend Bill and Bryce, I will pray for Jane and Madison everyday.

  12. Avatar April 2nd, 2010 at 8:38 am Brian Patrick Cork Says:

    Great Pope stories will continue to abound.


  13. Avatar April 2nd, 2010 at 9:16 am Linda Jew Says:

    Wonderful words, Brian. Thank you… Bill was an extraordinary man, and Bryce was just as much so, even as a youth. I am blessed to have known them, Jane, Madison, and the rest of the Pope family, and my life will never be the same because of it. To all of them, I offer my prayers.

    One of the things I realized out of this tragedy was that I hadn’t told ALL the people I love – including Bill – that they matter to me. While he probably knew, I hadn’t spoken the words. That changed on Sunday. And I get that, of all the blessings I received from having known Bill, this is one that will remain front and center for the rest of my life. So, if I may, “Bill, you mattered to me when you were here, and you matter to me now.”

  14. Avatar April 2nd, 2010 at 9:32 am Brian Patrick Cork Says:

    Hello Linda.

    The Pope family clearly set the bar high. I can’t say that allows for any explanation for what’s occurred. But, these recent events have caught our attention. We have our breath collected as a community. We have scienter, and no choice but to reflect and represent for what Bill stood for, and clearly taught his son as a standard.


  15. Avatar April 2nd, 2010 at 3:39 pm KDonovan Gaddy Says:

    I’m sorry for your loss, Brian… my heart hurts for Bill, Bryce, Madison, and Jane. I cannot imagine the sorrow felt by all who are close to them right now. I hope comfort finds everyone soon… very soon.


  16. Avatar April 2nd, 2010 at 3:49 pm Brian Patrick Cork Says:

    Thanks Kate.

    And, it sure is great to hear from you.

    We are hearing great Bill and Bryce (and, Pope stories in general). So, that inspiration is a fantastic platform for, literally, lifting them all up.


  17. Avatar April 4th, 2010 at 1:51 pm death is morbid but Meaningful and we need to be Ready « The Unsinkable brian cork Says:

    […] thought of Bill Pope, and how he and I would have stood there quietly together, our hands in pockets, putting […]

  18. Avatar April 6th, 2010 at 10:18 am Malcolm Out loud Says:

    Wow, after reading your tribute I researched the story. I am always concerned with loved ones on the road driving – Brian you never know from one day to the next. You and I both know this and have a grasp of the big picture ahead. Well done tribute – we each need to count our blessings every hour of every day and know that God has plans ahead….

  19. Avatar April 6th, 2010 at 3:26 pm Perry Mason Says:


    Thank you for the tribute to Bill and Bryce. Bill was a great guy, good friend, devoted to his family, and just fun to be around. It is a terrible loss for all of us and my heart breaks for Jane and Madison. The service was uplifting and described Bill and Bryce to the hilt. Like the other posters I have several takaways from this tragedy; hold your friends and loved ones tight, be spontaneous, and have the right priorities.

    My life has been enriched through knowing the Pope family and I continue to pray for their healing and comfort.


  20. Avatar September 1st, 2010 at 8:11 pm Steven Bruce Waller Says:

    The True Gentleman is the man whose conduct procceds from a good will and an acute sense of propriety and whose self control is equal to all emergencies; who does not make the poor man conscious of his poverty, the obscure man of his obscurity, or any man of his inferiority or deformity; who is himself humbled if neccessity compels him to humble another; who does not flatter wealth, cringe before power, or boast of his own possessions or acheivements; who speaks with frankness but always with sincerity; whose deed follows his word; who thinks of the rights and feelings of others rather than his own and who appears well in any company; a man with whom honor is sacred and virtue safe -John Walter Wayland. – Sigma Alpha Epsilon – Bill was my best friend in high school, and we were roommates in college and after graduation in Roswell and Buckhead till 1993. Our college advisor and history professor (as well as fratenrity brother) Dr. William Gabbard called Bill “Willie Red”. The stories I could tell about our ‘escapades’, but not as well as Bill, never as good a story teller as Bill. I can see why Bill was drawn to to you Brian. Thank you for writing what you did. Bill and I took different pathes in ’93(myself the wrong one) and we lost touch and it was my fault . I regret it most days now. He had a great impact on my life and I always wanted to be “like Bill”. He was a TRUE GENTLEMAN. I will miss him. God Speed and Phi Alpha “Pope”. I love you man.

  21. Avatar September 2nd, 2010 at 6:29 am Brian Patrick Cork Says:

    Hello Mr. Waller.

    And, welcome, here.

    No matter your paths I’ll suspect Bill had you in his heart. He was a stout and loyal fellow, that one.

    My immediate take-away from your comment will have me pondering the following words from Wayland – “…who speaks with frankness but always with sincerity; whose deed follows his word; … who appears well in any company; a man with whom honor is sacred and virtue safe”, paints a good picture of “Willie Red”.

    It’s also interesting to me that the type of man I most often like to bask with have inexplicably found themselves favored by a college professor at one point or another. I did not know about Bill’s relationship with your Dr. Gabbard. But, I can’t be surprised. Its likely along the same lines as my own with Dr. Pappas at Radford University.

    I’m, and only just now, struck by a thought, that is possibly an inspiration… Deliver a hand-written note to Bill’s daughter Madison (via Jane of course). Tell her a story about Bill from his youth. But, make the best example of what a terrific gentleman he was, and how she should only allow for such a man in her own life one day. Bill had high standards. Lets work together to make sure Madison realizes those as well. So, regardless of your lost path with Bill, you can now help, in this small way, ensure his daughter walks the right one.

    And, trust me, Mr. Waller… This will help you as well.


  22. Avatar September 2nd, 2010 at 1:38 pm brucewaller Says:

    Thanks Brian corrections first (but always with sincerity and sympathy). “honor” not hanor. My mistake. I would love to post some stories from my past with Bill. Sincerest regards. Bruce… I might show up in your office one day (of course un announced) Take care. I will take your advice. Until then…

  23. Avatar September 3rd, 2010 at 6:19 am converging paths « The Unsinkable brian cork Says:

    […] taken aback by Bill Pope, and I want to know what Love is. […]

  24. Avatar September 25th, 2010 at 11:06 pm Ashley strickland Says:

    Dear mr. Cork,
    You might not remember me, but I too was alps in the girlscout group and knew mr. Pope. I also still attend school with his daughter Madison. We are freshmen this year and it is good that we as friends, are still here for her. Mr. Pope was an amazing man… I remember when I went to the Pope’s house and saw all of his cars. They were all in perfect condition and looked amazing.. As for Bryce, we went out to the playset and Bryce showed me his ant collection… And it was so cute… He was so proud of those ants.. I love Bryce and Mr. Pope so much and Jane and Madison too! They are like family to me and will always be.
    Ashley Strickland

  25. Avatar September 27th, 2010 at 7:06 am Brian Patrick Cork Says:

    Hello Ashley.

    I certainly do remember you as both a member of Haley Anne’s Brownies group and by reputation.

    Joanne (Mrs. Cork) recently commented on what a splendid young lady you are becoming. She had apparently spoken with you at Bill’s service, and she was struck by your poise.

    My thinking is that Bill would be pleased that his own daughter is in the company of other fine young ladies such as yourself. So, I’ll trust you to keep being an example. With emerging leaders like you in our community it’s the best chance to reflect and represent the great hopes that form an ideal for us all.

    Brian Cork

  26. Avatar September 30th, 2010 at 8:55 pm Ashley strickland Says:

    Dear mr. Cork,
    I appreciate your response. We at Fellowship are all truly blessed to have Madison in our freshmen class. We will always be there for her. She is such and amazing girl, and I know she too, sets an amazing example for us. She is so strong. I look up to Madison. I am so proud of her and I’m sure her dad and brother would be too. She is such a fine young lady.
    Ashley strickland

  27. Avatar November 23rd, 2010 at 11:45 am robbie gring campbell Says:

    I just returned from a few days at the beach to reflect on my dear Dad’s life and discovered these comforting words from an author, pianist and artist in Miramar Beach named Nancy Veldman.

    “Go to the sea and rest your heart in the movement of the tide bringing in new life and taking away the old. Peace will come.”

    May God richly bless you and those reeling from the loss of Bill and Bryce.

  28. Avatar March 9th, 2011 at 8:29 am The Unsinkable brian cork » Blog Archive » moments like these Says:

    […] this is the month we lost Bill Pope and his son and Bryce a year ago. you can read about that, here: taken aback by Bill Pope/ […]

  29. Avatar March 28th, 2011 at 6:01 pm The Unsinkable brian cork » Blog Archive » standing with Bill Pope Says:

    […] like what I wrote last year: taken aback by Bill Pope. and, I think I’ll stand with that, and add only a few additional […]

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