Valley mourns loss of Paradise Valley resident, philanthropist Linda Pope

Linda Pope, receiving the Ellis Island Award. (submitted photo)

Linda Pope, receiving the Ellis Island Award. (submitted photo)

Longtime Paradise Valley resident Linda Pope passed away peacefully at her home, surrounded by family, on July 22, after a long illness. She was 64 years old.

It is impossible to quantify the impact this passionate philanthropist had in the local community, impacting nonprofits and inspiring other volunteers, too numerous to name.

Linda and her husband, local businessman Bill Pope, served as honorary chairmen for at least 15 organizations, helping raise millions of dollars and changing many lives over the years. Numerous women in the charitable community have cited Linda as a role model and inspiration for their volunteerism.

Most recently, Linda received the Guiding Star Award by the National Kidney Foundation of Arizona (she chaired the group’s “Dancing with the Stars Arizona” gala in 2008, setting fundraising and attendance records for the event).

In 2015, she was honored as a Fabulous Phoenician by Trends Magazine and the Trends Charitable Fund and Childhelp renamed its Phoenix advocacy center to “Childhelp’s Children Center of Arizona Dedicated to Linda Pope,” in honor of her work for the organization.

One of the accomplishments that made Linda most proud was seeing her television show collaboration with Simon Fuller, “Ballroom Blitz,” air on TLC. The show featured dancers, such as local residents Jan Montague Clayton and Carrie Schnepf, as they participated in ballroom dancing competitions.

One of her closest friends, Libby Cohen, also an active member of the local business and philanthropic communities, said, “I really got to know Linda when she was my honorary chairman the year I chaired the Phoenix Heart Ball. I was in awe of her – she was just so kind, loving and gracious. She also gave me my start in real estate by listing her home with me and entrusting me with its sale.  Linda was loyal in every aspect of her life, especially in friendship. She loved bringing people together and hosted ballroom dance classes at her studio for her friends and their spouses.”

Linda chaired and co-chaired many non-profit events including: Arizona Shines, Big Give Big Game 2015 Super Bowl VIP Party; Arizona Science Center’s Galaxy Gala; Childhelp’s Drive the Dream gala; Phoenix Heart Ball; Crisis Nursery gala; Symphony Ball; Ballet Arizona’s Boots and Ballet event; Dancing with the Stars Arizona; Arizona Foundation for Women luncheon; Phoenix Theatre’s Women Who Care event; March of Dimes gala; HomeBase Youth Services dinner; and Herberger Headliners event. She also co-chaired the Childhelp Capital Campaign with Merv Griffin.

She belonged to several professional associations and served on many local and national boards of directors.

Her board roles have included: National Ethnic Coalition Organization, which awards the National Ellis Island Medal of Honor; and Boys and Girls Club of Metro Phoenix, AZ Heart Foundation, and Board of Trustees of Dizzy Feet Foundation. She completed terms on over 30 boards.

Her awards included: Childhelp’s Spirit of the Children Award, Ellis Island National Medal of Honor, YWCA Award, National Dancing Classrooms’ Humanitarian Award, Phoenix Theatre’s Angel of the Arts and Woman Who Cares, American Jewish Community Service Award, Teen Lifeline Community Lifetime Achievement Award, Albert Schweitzer National Inspiration Award, AFW’s Marilyn Seymann Award, Woman of Distinction Award, American Heart Association Philanthropic Award, Business Journal’s Women of Vision Award, Trendsetter Award, Girl Scouts of America Community Service Award, YWCA Women of Distinction Award, Dancing with the Stars Philanthropic Award, Phoenix Heart Ball Sweetheart and many others.

While on the National VDAY Board, she traveled to Egypt to be part of the opening of the country’s first domestic violence shelter and to Jordan by way of invitation from Queen Rania to observe and give feedback on shelters for abused children.

More recently, Linda served as CEO of World Dance Network, which partnered with XIX Entertainment and formed a joint venture: Dance, Dance, Dance, LLC. She and her partner, Simon Fuller, creator of “American Idol,” sold their show “Ballroom Blitz” to TLC Network, which aired it internationally in 2014. The show received press coverage in local, regional and national news outlets.

She was passionate about ballroom dancing and competed and won dance competitions around the world.

Linda received a Master of Science degree in communication and social psychology from the University of North Texas where she graduated summa cum laude. She was a college professor for over 15 years and conducted many training seminars in communication and team building for national corporations.

In spite of the many accolades and accomplishments, above all, Linda would have said her finest achievements in life were being a mother to her children, a grandmother, and a wife to her beloved husband Bill.

The Valley has lost a tremendous treasure – Linda Pope’s impact will be felt for generations but she will be sorely missed.

She is survived by husband Bill Pope and children Blake McCay and Tisa McCay Stephenson, stepchildren Jeff, Steven, Rebecca, and David, daughter-in-law Dominique Del Vecchio, son-in-law, Grant Stephenson, brothers Philip and Anthony Matteis, grandson Declan and step-grandchildren April, Faith, Lacey, Caleb, Hailee, Dillon, Kason and Felisha.

Linda Pope’s full biography may be viewed at her memorial website: http://memorialwebsites.legacy.com/LindaPope2016/Homepage.aspx.

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