One thing I have learned is that good friends have other good friends. This is a series of stories about “friends of my friends”. The post below is the story for February 1, 2015.
This post is intended to be a shared experience. I need others to help me finish it and get It to a final version.
On Thursday January 29, 2015 our community lost a friend. He was forty-one years and he died suddenly and unexpectedly. He was a father, husband, friend, son, brother, and someone lots of people wanted to be around. His name was Andy Pope.
There are some things that occur that you can’t understand and Andy’s death for me is in that category. I like to think of myself as upbeat and optimistic but hearing of his death left me and many others in a funk. I am experiencing great sorrow dealing with him not being here. Why did this happen is a question that may never be answered.
Andy had a beautiful wife named Prissy and two wonderful children McKnight a daughter and Porter a son. Our entire community is praying for them and ask you to do the same.
Andy was special to my entire family because he got involved with our kids. When our son Kyle was going thru confirmation in the church Andy was his sponsor. He did more than was expected from a sponsor and I know he impacted our son in a spiritual and positive fashion.
Andy didn’t just get involved with our family he did that with many families throughout the community either thru coaching, the church, or just being a nice guy. He had a large group of friends and that is where I am counting on additional input for this post to come from.
If you read this and want to tell me what Andy meant to you please feel free to post a comment. I will take all the comments over the next two days and update this post. You see each of you is a friend of Andy’s and that makes “you a friend of a friend.” I hope you will share your story.
Andy Pope had lot’s of friends because he was smart, engaging, and funny. When you were with him it was comfortable. I hope the comments I can collect will give all of us some comfort knowing he is gone but not forgotten.
The Friend-ANDY POPE-on the far right-picture from June 2014-Raleigh, NC
The comments from his Friends-updated 9:00 AM -FEB 6, 2015
My first impression of Andy was not a positive one. I was the photographer for the BHS annual and had to take photos of the clubs for the annual. Andy and his friends were in one of the clubs (I can’t even remember which club it was) and would not cooperate. They made faces, climbed on each other and basically acted foolishly. I can remember thinking that he was the leader of a bunch of hooligans. However, he ended up in a science class with several of my friends so he began to eat lunch with us at the picnic tables out in front of the school. Because he was younger than me, I really wasn’t too interested in him but his sense of humor, quick wit, and intelligence began to grow on me.
On October 22, 1987, my friend Ginny and I came out of the school and were met by Andy and a group of his friends who were leaving football practice. I don’t remember this but Andy always said Ginny and I were singing the Pretty Poison song, “Catch Me I’m Falling.” Since I have a terrible voice I can’t imagine that I was singing but he swore to it and always told our kids that was “our song.” On a bet from one of his friends he kissed me right there in front of everyone. That was the beginning of our 27 year relationship.
He was my high school sweetheart and only love. We had many wonderful time and some that were not so great, but we persevered. We prayed for a child and were blessed with 2 precious angels. McKnight, our first was a preemie and spent 5 weeks in the NICU where he went every day to visit her. He read Sports Illustrated and Harry Porter through the vent in her isolette just so she could hear her voice.
He coached soccer for young kids, before we had our own and he worked with Porter on every project that was assigned at school (a toilet for Valentine Cards was one of my favorites). He was a wonderful father, who played, sang karaoke and guided them with a gentle fatherly manner.
Not only was he my husband, he was my best friend. He knew me better than I know myself. He stood by me through the death of both my parents and my only brother, he was my rock. Just last week, I had a fender-bender one day and dropped and broke my phone the next day. That afternoon he came home with yellow roses, “just because you are having a rough week.”
I know he was not perfect, but he was one of the best people I have ever known. I hope that my children will read these stories and remember him for the great father, person, friend, boss, son and husband that he was. Prissy
Andy Pope was such a funny and great guy. I got the pleasure of meeting him and his family through my brother and sister in-law, Ken and Jennifer Stephenson. From the very first time I met him, I knew he had so much energy and was the life of the party. Everyone loved being around him and it was evident that he loved his family very much. My favorite memory of Andy is what a fierce competitor he was. We started playing cornhole together on wedensday nights with friends. When we first started playing he was kicking my butt!! I hated losing as much as he did!! Then came the”Infamous Throw”. He had one of the ugliest throws I had ever seen. Well it worked for him so I thought it would work for me too. Didn’t take long for the tables to turn. When I play now people always ask “How do you throw that bag like that”? It actually looks like you are tossing pizza dough. From now on, I will say this great and awesome guy named Andy Pope showed me how !!! Time has been cut too short. I will treasure the memories I have with my friend Andy Pope.
I never saw Mr. Pope when he was not smiling! You could genuinely see he loved his family! I am praying for you guys for peace and comfort. We love you!
Holly Green Stevens
Andy was one of the first people to befriend me when I moved to Lumberton. He didn’t treat me as an “outsider” but saw me for me. He taught me many things about accepting people for who they are and where they are. I knew I could call on him for anything whether it be to let my dog out or borrow something. He will be greatly missed for I knew I always had a friend in him no matter what. I will always think highly of the pipe family and only hope that I can raise my children with the same values that prissy and Andy have. Love you forever!
Danny Earl Britt Jr.
I first met Andy Pope and his wife Prissy Causey Pope back in the 80s spending time at be oak grove community pool together in Bladen County where we all grew up. Andy was always one of the older kids who would teach us to dive, do tricks in the pool and let us play chicken on his shoulders. I got to know him again when later in life I moved to Lumberton. He was always the same. Andy was always smiling, laughing, joking, polite and always spoke. He was a good husband, father and a friend to many. Involved and concerned with the community he lived and raised his children in. Andy was just a good ole boy all the way around. He will be missed.
I never met Mr.Pope, but I feel like I knew him. My teacher Mrs. Pope would tell us great stories about her husband and children. I could tell by the way she would smile when she talked about him. I know he was was a great husband, father, & friend. And Mrs. Pope loved him dearly. I’m so sorry this happened to you and your family Mrs.Pope. Love you and take care. Stay strong for the kids cause that’s what Mr. Andy Pope would want.
I am overwhelmed with the outpouring of love and support that has been shown to our family these last two days. I want Andy to be remembered for the wonderful father, husband and friend he was. This tribute from Dan Kenney’s blog breaks my heart but it is so true. Please post on it if you feel led to. I think it might bring comfort to my children as they grow and miss him. Because they are young they may not remember all the kind, funny and inspiring things he did for others.
They say suicide is a selfish act. Of all the words I can think of to describe Andy Pope, selfish has never come to mind. If anything he was selfless.
Please continue to pray for us, my children especially.
Andy was such a generous and sweet person. Always had a smile on his face and would go out of his way to say hello. He was a loving and devoted husband and father. I’m sure he knew how much he was loved. He will be truly missed.
I met Andy at NC School of Science and Math. We met through mutual friends and discovered pretty quickly that we could hang out together. How did I know? Because he always had a funny story or joke, many that are too edgy to post here, but if you knew him, then you know what I’m talking about. But most of all it were the antics. A group of us would sneak out of the dorm to go to Honey’s for breakfast at 3am, raiding other halls to give a fully clothed classmate an impromptu shower, or that time he drained the Bio Pond… :)
And then I didn’t see him for almost 20 years. We met up in Colorado with a mutual friend, Arvind, to go skiing and took a tour of Denver: bars, restaurants, hiking all over the city. We even took a snowshoeing expedition to Chin’s Lake, which does not exist no matter what Arvind tells you. Andy and I both in the 200+ lb. club at the time trudged and suffered the whole time that Arv was up on top of the snow. It was brutal, but also hilarious. Great memories from that trip, but also the fact that we just kinda picked up where we left off from high school in Durham.
Yes, I’ll miss Andy and plan to send his children other stories that I remember in a letter. I am sorry for his family and those close in his community, but most of all his children. I know he loved them so very much. Peace be with them and peace be with Andy.
I met Andy 19 years ago.
He gave me a copy of “The Tao of
Poo.” That little book defined the Andy
That I came to know and love.
He taught by “non doing”. He taught by being.”
He was a wonderfully loving man.
The world was a better place because
He was in it. The Heavens are surely
Celebrating his return.
Our family, John, Kelly, Morgan and Connor were all impacted by the life of Andy Pope. We met Andy and Prissy years ago when they settled in Lumberton. Our children were coached and mentored by Andy in their early soccer days. Andy was a great coach and role model for the kids. Once McKnight and Porter arrived our kids spent many days and nights babysitting them. We enjoyed having Andy in church and loved his caring nature.
We loved going to parties, running events and dinner outings with Prissy and Andy. Andy was the quiet, life of the party, kind of guy that we loved being with.
Andy will certainly be missed by the Haskins. Rest in Peace.
Brandi Andrews Kenedy
All the memories I have in my heart of Andy and the gang haven’t left my mind since Thursday morning. To say that I am devastated is an understatement! Andy was one of the nicest guys I’ve ever had the pleasure of calling one of my true friends! He cared about everyone! He was always smiling and was the life of the party!
He helped so many people in so many ways! My heart aches for Prissy, their children and the awesome group of friends in his close circle! Very sad that I can’t be there today, but please know that my mind and heart are! Thank you for being a true friend, Andy! I will always love you!!
Pat, Brandi and Dylan Kenedy
Oklahoma City, OK
Andy Pope was a good man. That’s all you really could hope people would say when all is said and done, and I say this today with as mush conviction as I would have said back in 1989 when I had the pleasure of being Andy’s roommate during our first year living on 2nd Bryan at the North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics. You wouldn’t think there would be a lot in common between someone from the great metropolis of Bladenboro, NC and “The Ford” in West Charlotte. Frankly, there may not have been that much in common between Andy and I, and the fact that I never bothers to make such an assessment was the beauty in knowing Andy. It never mattered where we were from. The differences never defined our relationship.
Andy was just “good people.” He would embrace everyone around him, deal with everyone on a personal level. He was such a source of life and respect that you could not help to just enjoy being around him. I enjoyed meeting the love of his life Prissy, especially when she or his family was coming to wisk him away EVERY weekend. smile emoticon I’ve enjoyed watching him over the years as his family has grown. I’ve enjoyed the memories of making him listen to Guy and the Sugarhill Gang while he made me listen to The Eagles and Metallica. There are way too many stories to chronicle here surrounding our two years at NCSSM on 2nd Bryan. Countless conversations in the lounge, late night games on the Nintendo “computer” in our wardrobe, The Cactus Crew and the reverence for all things 3rd Bass, cheering on Uni basketball…pure shenanigans. The whole experience with Andy really taught me how to appreciate people for who they are and ultimately gave me the courage to venture out to Iowa after high school. There wasn’t a need to fear the unknown. Iowa couldn’t be too much different from Bladenboro, right?
On January 29, 2015 one of the greatest people in the world decided the world is not such a great place. Always there, he was always there with a smile and a hug, whatever the occasion. You made your mark Andy Pope, on the Cherichella 5, we have sweet memories of you friend, and you will forever be missed.
Kind, quick-witted, fun-loving, mischievous, helpful, intelligent, family man and friend… RIP buddy!
Melissa and Christian Wober
There are no words that can express the love I have for the Pope Family. My dear friend …. Andy.. Forever you will be my friend.
Jeff and EA Neelon
Prissy, the funeral was so touching and the love for you and Andy so apparent. He will ALWAYS be remembered for the wonderful, kind, fun and sweet person that he was . I personally will never forget the love that I felt for both of you when we first met in Charleston. You are so very special and your children are so very lucky to have had Andy and to have you . We are there for you. Rest in Peace Andy Pope.
My family and I want you all to know how special Andy will always be to us. We were talking about the fun we had wrestling and how helpful Andy always was with all of the sports Lynn has been involved in. Know you are prayed for often and we are all grateful for your Andy and all of the ways he impacted so many lives. Much love and comfort to you all!
Valissa Hester Lowery
I know Robeson County gets a lot of bad press. Every time I turn around, I am seeing a news article or segment on how bad things are here. Contrary to these reports, I have watched us wrap our arms around one of our families as they were touched by tragedy. The love and support poured out as we all grieve this loss has renewed my hope for our area. We do have something to be proud of here. It is the loving spirit of the people. It is unfortunate that the media doesn’t ever report that. Prissy Pope, we love you and will be praying for peace and comfort for your family.
Prissy – our thoughts and prayers have been with you, McKnight, and Porter and were expressed as part of my own sermon this morning. Andy was a good friend and I treasure the many times spent with him including Cub Scouts, Soccer, Operation Fun, and the Young Adult Retreat to Montreat. He was and remains a great gift to many. May God’s grace and peace surround you. John 16:22.
“When you remember me, it means you have carried something of who I am with you, that I have left some mark of who I am on who you are. It means that you can summon me back to your mind even though countless years and miles may stand between us. It means that if we meet again, you will know me. It means that even after I die, you can still see my face and hear my voice and speak to me in your heart. For as long as you remember me, I am never entirely lost.”
― Frederick Buechner
A new favorite quote Prissy!
Andy was an awesome co-worker. I enjoyed every second that I knew him. I want you to know that my heart will be with you and the kids today and for some time to come. My prayers have been and will continue to be focused on you and your family.
I just heard the devastating news today about your precious Andy. We have been out of the country with no phone or internet service and Deb finally got through to me. Please know that you are in our prayers and that we pray for you and the children to be at peace and comforted by God’s loving hand. My entire family sends prayers, love, and hugs. May angels surround you, McKnight, and Porter and God grant you peace. Much love, Gayle and Frank
I have been unable to sleep tonight because you and your precious children are all I can think about. I have enjoyed so much looking at all of your beautiful photos of happy times showing such wonderful memories. It is truly a blessing that you were able to do so many fun trips and events together documented by treasured photos. Try to only remember all the good times and what great kids you created together as that is what helps the pain. I am home in Bladenboro most days as I have some chronic health issues. When you feel up to it please text me at 910-317-xxxx. I want you to know that you can text or call me any time day or night if you need someone to talk to. I am a great listener. I will always remember when you and Andy fell in love during marching band in high school!
He was uncle Andy to Kyle Dickerson and me. He was a huge part of who I am as a man and husband today. I held his new born baby girl after they tried so hard to have her. I babysitted her for several years. His family came on almost every family vacation we took for 10 plus years. He bought me my first 6 pack haha. He helped me through my parents divorce and never chose sides! He loved them both equally! I can’t say many people were that kind through it all. Andy was a best friend who just happened to be much older than me. He called me often during my college days. He came to almost every single one of my soccer games and he didn’t even have a kid on the team. He was my fathers best friend! He was a lover, giver, happy go lucky man! He would kick your ass in corn hole! He was a hero of mine. I will always love you Andy! For all the laughs and fun times you gave my family. You are family. Your are Andy pope! One of the best men I’ve ever known! Love Jordan Dickerson
There are dates and times in your life that you will always remember. I will never forget the phone call that broke my heart… Andy was gone. He was a great man. Loved deeply by my family. He was family. My children often turned to Andy for advice and guidance. How blessed we were. Our families have shared the birth of McKnight and Porter, vacations, “melt downs”, good times and sad times. We have so many funny, I cant believe he did that stories. Thank you Andy Pope for being our friend! We love you!
Since I moved to Lumberton in 2000, I have had the opportunity to meet many new people who have had a great impact on my life. Andy Pope was one of those people. I will always remember the pig-pickings we threw together, the meals in Southern Pines with friends or just a weekend get-together. But what I will remember him the most for is being a coach. Five or so years ago, my son came to me and told me he wanted to play soccer. So not to look like an idiot, I told him that would be great. At the same time, I knew I had no clue as to how to help teach him the game of soccer and was a bit nervous as the time to start the season came closer. Then I talked to Coach Andy. His first words were “We got him.” Now having been involved with youth sports a long time, I always heard a coach say that but for some reason, I was instantly comfortable with Coach Andy. Coach Andy, Coach Ken and Coach Tripp all have helped Lucas become not only a better soccer player, but a better person. You see it’s one thing to be a coach, but to take a group of 5 and 6 year old kids, all of whom seem to be more interested in picking up grass or watching the rockets in the sky go by (I did not have the heart to tell Lucas it was just a airplane), and conduct a meaningful practice for 45 minutes is something else….it’s a mentor. Fast forward to last Tuesday night. Andy and i were sitting together at indoor soccer. Our sons play on the same team. Now I could sit there and try a help Lucas with his game but he goes about his business not worrying about me. Then Coach speaks, and he executes every word he says.
I am going to miss those games with Coach Andy. But I know that Lucas and many other kids in our area will carry the lessons taught by him throughout their lifetime.
RIP Coach Andy Pope.
The Day I Ran Into Andy Pope
The last time I spoke to Andy was last Monday night. We had just finished up our cub scout meeting in the fellowship hall at First Presbyterian Church and as Porter and Michael played basketball we got to talking about the mundane things we had to do on Tuesday and then he said “That was the spot. Right over there.” I looked over to a spot on the basketball court, about 10 feet from the basket and right below the free throw line. “What?” I said quizzically. Andy then proceeded to remind me about the first time we ever “ran” into each other. You see I did not know Andy before this game he was referring to. I had been invited to participate in a new pickup basketball league at FPC. The guys that showed up were an eclectic bunch. Everyone arrived and we quickly separated into teams. My team got the ball first and who should end up guarding me??? Andy Pope. He then reminded me that I got the ball at the top of the key and then drove right to the spot he had pointed to on the court. In an awkward attempt to reproduce some of the graceful basketball moves of my youth my knee hit his and I fumbled the ball out of bounds. He said Monday night, “My knee still hurts…I was thinking…. Wow this guy plays like me… I’m going to show him”. It was 2 macho guys in their element. Competing….
I retell this story as if I was a bystander to this event rather than a participant. You see, the truth is I didn’t recall the event Andy spoke of. I don’t recall much of that basketball game at all. The reason is that only 10 minutes later, in that same basketball game, I would suffer a devastating knee injury, a knee injury that would end my basketball playing days, the kind of injury that will affect me for the rest of my life.
Our friendship officially started that day. It started slowly but it never wavered in its consistency. We would see each other from afar and then come together for a few words after church, soccer, or scouts. Michael and Porter kept growing up. We started to see each other more frequently at local events around town. A couple months later he introduced me to Tuesday night Cornhole, an event at the time I didn’t know existed. If I tell the truth an event I was a little intimidated to attend as I was unsure of who would be there. True to form in Andy’s energetic and uplifting way he would say “Your goin’!”. I invited him to go with me to see a concert in Mississippi. When we got stranded due to flight problems, I said ”Stay another day?”. He said “Of course.” In that sly way only a good friend would imply. We talked about his time at Science and Math. Not because I went there but because, as a native of Durham, I was there at the same time. We talked about some of the local places around Durham. I often wondered how cool it would have been had I “ran” into Andy Pope during my high school days. We talked about our kids a lot. Andy gave me helpful hints on how to keep up with a daughter (I have 2) in the Internet age. Andy got me involved with Fantasy football and as the “engine” that drove our league turned every Fall Sunday into Must see TV!!!! I will miss him greatly.
Many years from now I won’t be able to tell you what was happening in the world on Thursday January 29, 2014 as I suffered a devastating injury to my heart that will affect me for the rest of my life. However I won’t soon forget…..the day I “ran” into Andy Pope. I look forward to running into him again……
“Those of us who knew him best talk about him often… I swear…..The stuff he pulled….Sometimes it makes me sad, though… Andy being gone. I have to remind myself that some birds aren’t meant to be caged. Their feathers are just too bright. And when they fly away, the part of you that knows it was a sin to lock them up DOES rejoice. But still, the place you live in is that much more drab and empty that they’re gone… I guess I just miss my friend.”
-Redd(As played by Morgan Freeman)-
The Shawshank Redemption – 1994
Big guy always knew what to say to get us laughing.
James Gillespie III
I awakened this morning still with the thought of why, how did this kryptonite took out my Friend, Brother, Superman. If you seen the movie Remember the Titans, this was what this felt like! Some were able to make, some wanted to and some had personal views to why they should not have appeared! But just remember always not all have the Mental Capacity to pull themselves out alone. But please KNOW FRIENDS,FAMILY EVERYWHERE DEPRESSION IS A KILLER! Putting a banded on a cut that needs stitches, never heals correctly! Time to ride ATL Bond! Blessings over you All!
With regrets and fondness. Rest softly.
Kathy Willoughby Geiger
May you rest in peace Andy Pope. Praying for peace and comfort for all of your family and friends. You will be missed
Sandy Bryant Connor
Not the best pic but I thought it was a good example of the good times we shared and how there was never a dull moment on Sassafras!!! I know Kevin is devastated by the passing of Andy Pope as well as the rest of that inseparable crew. Time, distance, and careers may physically separate folks but the wonderful memories are always there as if they were yesterday!
I first met Andy at NCSSM when he joined the cheerleading team our senior year. I didn’t really know him much during junior year but I enjoyed the heck out of his sly sense of humor during practices and long drives to away games. One story from high school is embarrassing for me to recall, but shows what an easy-going and sweet guy he was: The coach decided the guys would throw a couple of us girls into the air to do high toe-touches in the back of the formation. I was paired with Andy. I was awkward and much more used to throwing other people around than being thrown myself. We practiced and practiced and I just could not get it right. More than once, I accidentally kicked him in the groin. But Andy never made me feel any worse about it than I already did. He’d take a minute to breathe, then come right back over and say, “Ok. We’ll get it this time.” (It’s a wonder he ever was able to have those children he loved so much.)
Other than a time when he came to UNC to visit other NCSSM alums, I didn’t see Andy until a few years ago when I decided to run the 5K in Lumberton. I knew from Facebook that Andy would be there with some of his chili cook-off friends. I was a sweaty mess, but Andy greeted me with a hug anyway and congratulated me on running, even though I came in behind some walkers! Prissy was there, too, and he bragged on her for doing the couch-to-5K program. My dad was there to cheer me on and I introduced him to my old cheerleading buddy from NCSSM. Andy was welcoming and fun and really a great ambassador for the event.
But I feel like I didn’t really know Andy until our 20 year NCSSM reunion back in 2011. He and others were talking on facebook about going and I was hesitant. I worried that I hadn’t accomplished as much as other alums had. Who would I talk to? What would people think of me, just being a part-time nurse rather than a fulltime world-changer? But Andy insisted that I come. When I look at the group photo from that day, I can see the doubt and discomfort on my face. I guess Andy saw it, too, so he made sure I stayed for the evening festivities, even though I felt like leaving, and he made sure I had a great time, bringing me way too many drinks from the bar. I almost felt like a young thing again – but the hangover the next day reminded me I was not an 18-year-old anymore.
Days later, he saw on facebook that a friend had asked me how reunion was and I said something about being in a post-reunion funk. Andy, a facebook stalker and true friend, messaged me and invited me to lunch so I could still enjoy the feeling of reunion, the feeling that big dreams were still possible, and that even if they weren’t printed in alumni magazines, my achievements mattered. We talked about the Game of Thrones books (He had read all of them just like me! Huzzah! A fellow nerd!) We talked about our children and how amazed by them and proud of them we were. We talked about our hopes for the future and I swear, I have never met a person so simply satisfied. He talked about all the big things he might have done after school, but didn’t, and how happy he was with the simple things: a lovely wife and great kids, a rowdy and devoted group of friends, good music, a game of cornhole. We talked about what virtues we wanted our kids to learn and practice. I said honesty, but after a minute of contemplation, Andy said, “kindness. I want my kids to be kind.” Now does that sound like Andy, or what? A champion of awkward cheerleaders, slow runners and mid-life slumpers, Andy was always kind.