March 10, 2010

OBITUARIESEverett Pope, 90, World War II Medal of Honor recipient



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Staff Writer

BATH — Courageous, honorable and generous -- all qualities that could be used to describe Everett Parker Pope.

Mr. Pope, who was Maine's last living World War II Medal of Honor recipient, died Thursday on his 90th birthday.

Mr. Pope, a former resident of Brunswick, had been living in Bath at the Hill House assisted-living facility since last September. His wife of 66 years, Eleanor, died at the Hill House in January. They will be buried together this fall at Arlington National Cemetery.

''Dad was one of those guys who always did the right thing,'' said a son, Ralph Pope. ''He was a wonderful example to us.''

Mr. and Mrs. Pope moved back to the midcoast area from their home in Florida, because their health had begun to worsen and they wanted to be close to their sons, Ralph, of Arrowsic, and Laurence, of Portland.

The Popes first met in junior high school in Massachusetts before becoming high school sweethearts, Ralph Pope said.

Mr. Pope enrolled at Bowdoin College in Brunswick, where he captained a college state champion tennis team.

He graduated from Bowdoin in 1941 with a degree in French.

Soon after graduation Mr. Pope joined the Marine Corps. He fought at Guadalcanal, New Britain and on the Pacific island of Peleliu. As captain of his rifle company, Mr. Pope distinguished himself on the island of Peleliu -- a heavily fortified Japanese post.

''Subjected to point-blank cannon fire which caused heavy casualties and badly disorganized his company while assaulting a steep coral hill, Capt. Pope rallied his men and gallantly led them to the summit in the face of machine gun, mortar and sniper fire,'' the Medal of Honor citation reads.

Capt. Pope defended the hill with 12 men and one wounded officer.

''Attacked continuously with grenades, machine guns, and rifles from three sides, he (Capt. Pope) and his valiant men fiercely beat back or destroyed the enemy, resorting to hand-to-hand combat as the supply of ammunition dwindled .''

They eventually withdrew from their position.

President Truman presented Mr. Pope with the Medal of Honor in June 1945; it had been signed by President Franklin D. Roosevelt, who died in April 1945.

Mr. Pope's heroism was recognized on Bowdoin College's Web site.

College President Barry Mills pointed out that Mr. Pope, who received the Bronze Star, a Purple Heart and the Medal of Honor for his heroism, was the fourth Bowdoin graduate to be so honored, following in the footsteps of Civil War veterans Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain, Oliver Otis Howard and Henry Clay Wood.

His son Ralph said, ''My father loved his Marines, but he was not a career Marine.''

After the war, Mr. Pope became a banker.

In 1953, he was named president of the Workingmens Cooperative Bank in Boston at the age of 34, a promotion that made him the youngest bank president in New England.

''He assumed he would succeed at whatever it was he tried to do,'' his son said.

After his retirement from banking in 1983, Mr. Pope and his wife moved to Brunswick, where they lived for several years on Longfellow Avenue, near Bowdoin College.

Mr. Pope never forgot Bowdoin.

In the 1980s, Mr. Pope established the Pope Scholarship Fund at Bowdoin College.

Mr. Pope served for 27 years on the governing boards of the college; served on the building committee for Coles Tower and Wentworth Hall; chaired the committee that nominated A. LeRoy Gleason to be Bowdoin's 12th president, and served as chairman of the committee that was instrumental in raising money to build a campus war memorial.

The memorial was dedicated on June 4, 1994, to honor those who died in World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War.

''With Ev's passing, Bowdoin has lost a devoted son, while America has lost another of the great heroes of the Second World War,'' Mills said on the college's Web site.

''He once wrote of his admiration for fellow Congressional Medal of Honor recipient Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain, declaring that Chamberlain's was a life that any one of us would be proud to emulate. The very same can be said of Everett Pope.''

A memorial service for Everett and Eleanor Pope will be held in the Bowdoin Chapel on July 31 at 4 p.m.

According to the Congressional Medal of Honor Society's Web site, there are 95 living recipients of the award, but only 21 World War II veterans who received the citation are still alive.

Staff Writer Dennis Hoey can be contacted at 791-6365 or at:

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