For Gloria Pope, working to serve the community didn’t end when she retired from her full-time job.
Pope, who retired in 2014 after 32 years at the Industrial Commission of Ohio, continues to serve on the governing boards and advisory committees of multiple nonprofit organizations in Stark County. Among her volunteer activities, the Jackson Township resident currently serves on the search committee for Leadership Stark County, as the dialogue series chair for Women’s Impact, as a board member and immediate past president for the Massillon Museum, on the governance committee of the Canton YWCA, on the personnel committee of the Central YMCA, as a judge for the YWCA Women’s Hall of Fame and as the bylaws chair and arts co-chair for the Kent-area chapter of The Links, Inc.
Pope said she chooses to help agencies whose mission inspires her, recalling when she was asked to serve as president of the Massillon Museum.
“I used to go to the museum as a teenager, even if it was just to look in the window,” Pope said. “I don’t know what always drew me to that museum, but when I was asked to serve as president, I was ecstatic. It was really an experience for me because I just held that museum in such high esteem.”
The 1976 Massillon Washington High School graduate who started volunteering as a teenager credits her parents for instilling a sense of community service in her.
Pope and her six siblings were raised in a two-parent Christian home where her parents emphasized a strong work ethic. While her father died when she was 17, Pope said her mom maintained that strong family bond and made sure the family didn’t lose its focus of helping others.
“My mom was a servant leader,” Pope said. “She always thought about others. No matter whether we had enough to share or not, she always thought about others and their needs.”
Pope also credits Leadership Stark County for enhancing her awareness of the needs that exist in Stark County and for helping her learn about the many positive aspects within the county.
“I would recommend people to go through Leadership Stark County. That is one of the ways to get someone to really invest in the community,” she said. “… I’ve heard people say ‘There’s nothing to do here, I’m so bored.’ But there’s so much with the theater, the museums and the park system. There’s a lot of good happening.”
Pope said she’s never been tempted to leave Ohio or Stark County, even though family and friends continue to move to warmer southern states.
“I see no reason to leave,” she said. “I enjoy all four seasons. I do enjoy Stark County. And once I went through Leadership Stark County, I really had a connection to what we have to offer here.”
Most memorable spot:
Sippo Lake Park. “When we were young, my father would take me and my siblings to Sippo Park. In the summer, I remember picnics and playing in the park. On hot days, we’d look forward to removing our shoes to play in the water and walk across the little bridge covered with slippery rocks. It was so much fun.”
Jackson Bog. “For the past 20-plus years, (my husband) Nate and I do an annual nature hike with our nieces and nephews. It is beautiful in the fall. It is well maintained, but the integrity of the bog remains untouched. We spend a few hours just hiking and enjoying the trails and learning about the plants and foliage.”
Favorite place to see live music:
The annual Bob James concert at Gervasi Vineyard.
Most unique or unusual product made in Stark County:
Tower Industries in Massillon, which manufactures solid shower surfaces for residential and commercial customers. “Their product is very impressive and can be ordered locally instead of from the big-box stores.”
Favorite local event:
Massillon/McKinley football game week. “I graduated from Massillon Washington High School and my husband, Nate, graduated from McKinley. To this day, at our house, Massillon-McKinley week is fun times!”
Favorite spot to exercise:
Paul & Carol David YMCA or Jackson Township’s North Park walking path.
Local CEO or business owner you admire:
Judith Barnes Lancaster, a local attorney. “I’ve known Judith for years. We have served together on several committees and organizations. Recently, I served on her committee to bring the Elijah Pierce exhibit to the Canton Museum of Art. This is our third venture to bring an African American artist to CMA. She is the epitome of a walk-the-talk female in leadership and philanthropy. When she speaks, you want to listen. She is generous with her time, talents and finances. She continues to impact our communities. Judith is a loving mother/grandmother, and an excellent role model to both women and men.”
Favorite local spot to grab a drink:
91 Restaurant on Fulton or The Martini Lounge at Market Square
Favorite place to take nieces and nephews:
“Massillon Museum Do the Mu. The ultimate place for artsy fun.”
Favorite local museum:
“As a Massillonian, my favorite is by far the Massillon Museum. It is the ultimate museum for families who are looking for an out-of-the-box experience. It is fun, educational and has lots of energy. The expansion will be fantastic.”
Favorite volunteer opportunity:
“My favorite local volunteer opportunity is anything that has to do with the Canton YWCA, where women and children are given shelter and taught life skills. Serving on the board, as a server during Thanksgiving dinner, collecting hats and gloves for Early Childcare participants, just to name a few.”
Favorite lunch spot:
“My husband and I love to go to Lee’s Panda Garden on Cleveland Avenue NW. Consistent good food and quick service.”
Favorite local restaurant:
“We are fortunate to have a wide array of restaurants in Stark County. At the top of my list is Basil Asian Bistro in downtown Canton, both 91 restaurants (at Washington Square or on Fulton Drive), 3 Brothers and Mint & Lime Asian Bistro (both located at Nobles Pond). My husband and I enjoy Bender’s Tavern where we can enjoy the freshest seafood including oysters on the half shell.”
Favorite place to shop local for gifts:
Studio Art & Glass, especially at Christmas time.