Wayne and Donna Pope, newlyweds
Wayne and Donna Pope, seven decades into their romance
Wayne and Donna Pope met on Christmas Eve of 1944. She was a striking beauty of 20 years, visiting her aunt in San Francisco for the winter, when she and some friends went to a ballroom on Christmas Eve and saw a handsome 24 year old Air Force Cadet with black curly hair enter the ballroom with his buddy. Wayne likes to say that Donna “asked him” to dance, but Donna will tell you that young ladies did not ask gentlemen to dance back then. She does concede that she gave him a “strong eye”, when their eyes met, and her intent was that “he” was meant for “her.” That was the beginning of a romance that spanned seven decades, and a lifetime of loving regard for each other through a war, a couple of careers for Wayne and the blessing of raising a family together in South Dakota.
Donna was raised in Chattanooga, Tennessee and Wayne was brought up on a farm outside Durham, Kansas. They met while Wayne was an Air Force Cadet, doing pilot training at Oakland Air Base during the winter of 1944-45. They knew each other for 2 ½ months when Wayne asked Donna to marry him “after the war.” He was preparing to move on to his next assignment in Yuma, Arizona. Donna countered that offer with “marry me now, or not at all,” and in a matter of weeks they wed in Yuma with Wayne’s buddy from the ballroom as his best man, and her maid of honor in attendance.
After the war, Wayne had a career in South Dakota as a Soil Conservation Specialist, and they lived in Watertown and raised a son, Jimmy Wayne, who lives in Greenville, Texas and a daughter, Mary, who lives in Sioux Falls. They also spent a few years in Rapid City when Wayne took a territory that spanned from North Dakota to Nebraska with Soil Conservation’s Western District, but the day that Wayne had 31 years of service accrued, he retired and they moved back to Watertown, South Dakota where they had so many dear friends. They lived in a home on Lake Kampeska, and Wayne began a second career as a consultant for pipeline companies trying to gain the right of way across lands in the states of North Dakota, South Dakota and Iowa, and then also from Florida over to Texas and all the states in between for another company.
Wayne would drive the country roads, visiting farmers or landowners where the company wanted to negotiate right of way access and the company often remarked that “Wayne Pope was the only man out in the field who could come out of a right of way negotiation with a pan of cinnamon rolls from the landowner’s wife in his hand.” Donna jokes that it is Wayne that has done all the big stuff, and she “just played bridge.” But it only takes a few minutes in her presence to know that with a wife or mother like Donna, a person would most certainly feel that they could do anything in this world. Her charm and loving appreciation for her family and friends has most certainly inspired countless people in this world. I like to envision all the ripples of goodness in the waters of life that extend to infinity because of the warmth and generosity of this beautiful couple.
At Primrose Retirement in Sioux Falls, we are grateful that Wayne and Donna Pope chose to share their lives with the residents of our community. We are blessed with your kind words, your gentleness and your loving presence.
by Lou Clarey
Life Enrichment Coordinator
To find out more about the retirement living experience at Primrose, please contact your nearest Primrose Retirement Community today to see more of our fun and social living. We’ll happily answer all your questions and show you around our beautiful communities. Come see why we say, THIS IS LIVING!