Art was born to Stella Spalding and Leon T. Pope in Caldwell, Idaho on Jan. 28, 1921, and then raised on a farm near Hillsdale, Mich. Surrounded by loving parents and neighbors, he and his brother Bill shared wonderful memories of rural life – even through the Depression. Art was strengthened by lifelong friendships from the Plank Road School, Somerset Congregational Church, and Addison High School.
Art received a bachelor’s degree in animal husbandry from Michigan State University (1942), then headed for the University of Wisconsin-Madison where he earned a master of science in animal nutrition in 1943 and a Ph.D. in biochemistry and animal nutrition in 1946. Art spent his career as a faculty member of the Department of Meat and Animal Science at the UW-Madison where he taught and conducted research in animal science and small ruminant nutrition for 43 years. Prior to his retirement in 1989, he served as department chair for 12 years.
While a student, Art married Vivian Tretsven in 1944 and, prior to her death in 1973, they raised four children. Art then married Elizabeth Nord Zoerb, who shared his life for 37 years until his death this week.
Art was an internationally renowned expert in sheep production. He conducted pioneering research in selenium/glutathione peroxidase structure and function in metabolism, which led to cures for numerous nutrient-related diseases in animals. In addition, he was a leader in developing progressive sheep husbandry practices initiated the Ewe Productivity Index and the State Ram Test station. For 62 years he remained as dedicated to shepherding his own commercial flock and mentoring 4-H youth as he was to conducting research and teaching. He worked tirelessly for decades with the Arlington and Spooner Sheep Research stations. His research and educational outreach took him to numerous continents to advise governments and universities in developing countries on food production for USAID-CRISP and to Australia for a year as a Fulbright Scholar.
He was a fellow in the American Society of Animal Science and received its highest honor, the Morrison Award. He won numerous other awards from industry associations including the Silver Ram Award from the American Sheep Producer’s Council. The Wisconsin Sheep Breeders Cooperative honored him with the creation of the Art Pope Award for exceptional service.
Art’s work on a 4-H project when he was 15, led him to purchase his first purebred Hampshire ewes, a flock that he cared for and nurtured for 73 years to the age of 88. He took great pride in the success of his last lambing season before he transferred his flock to UW-River Falls. As he retired, he watched the urban development spread rapidly toward his farm west of Madison. To preserve his unique property, he helped the Town of Middleton purchase his farm to establish a 105-acre educational conservancy. He took great joy in the creation of “Pope Farm Park” and watching young people walk the trails, build native gardens and learn about the land.
Art was preceded in death by his parents; and his wife, Vivian. He is survived by his wife, Elizabeth of Middleton; brother, Leon (Vanna) Pope of College Station, Texas; children, Mel (Kristie) of Middleton, Kathleen of Mount Horeb, Lucille of Bozeman, Mont., and William (Kristy) of Columbus, Ohio; Zoerb stepchildren, David (Carol) of Oostburg, Hans (Jan) of River Falls, and Erik (Laurie) of Mount Horeb; grandchildren, Heidi Zoerb, Brian Pope, Mari (Dan) Hansen, Brad (Maria) Pope, Michelle (Fred) Bartman, Elissa Zoerb, Stephanie and Andrew Pope; and five great-grandchildren, Grant, Reagan and Quinn Pope, Erika and Meagan Hansen.
Cremation has taken place. Funeral services will be held at WEST MIDDLETON LUTHERAN CHURCH on Thursday, July 8, 2010, at 11 a.m. Visitation will be at the church from 9:30 a.m. – 11 a.m. and a light lunch will follow the service. The family will conduct a private burial. Weather permitting, the public is invited to “Pope Farm Park” on Old Sauk Road for a gathering/tour at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday.
The Pope Family would like to thank Hospice and Pastor David Brandfass for bringing him comfort. In lieu of flowers, the family encourages memorials be made to the Pope Research Fund (UW Foundation), MARC Mount Horeb, or Hospice.
“Sir, I am a true laborer: I earn that I eat, get that I wear, owe no man hate, envy no man’s happiness, glad of other men’s good, content with my farm, and the greatest of my pride is to see my ewes graze and my lambs suck.” – William Shakespeare