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Elizabeth J. “Betty” Zoerb Pope, 99, died peacefully at Agrace Hospice in Fitchburg on July 26th. Betty was born to Frances Marie and Johannes K. Nord in Hastings, Minnesota in 1923 as the youngest of 3 children. Her family later re-located to Madison where her father found work as a watchmaker. Betty attended local schools, graduating from Madison West in 1941. Betty then enrolled in the University of Wisconsin-Madison where she met her future husband, Edgar Zoerb. They were married in May 1944, and she completed her BS in 1945. After World War II, they moved to Columbus, Ohio, where Ed attended the Ohio State University Veterinary School. After Ed’s graduation in 1951, they moved to Kiel, WI where they purchased a large animal veterinary practice, which they operated and where they raised their three sons, until Ed passed away in 1967. Betty then returned to Madison and went back to school to get a master’s degree in Home Economics at the University.
During that time, she also worked for UW Extension in Madison and then served as the Door County Extension Home Economist. In September 1973, she married Arthur Pope, and they spent the next 40 years residing in the farmhouse on the Pope Farm property in the Town of Middleton. During that time, Saturdays were workdays on the farm for any family members around, their friends, and an occasional one of Art’s students. (The only break in the Saturday work schedule was “time off” for Saturday Badger football and basketball games. Art had season tickets for both.) Also, every Saturday workday Betty prepared a huge lunch for the hungry work crew often including a wide variety of her homemade specialties including hearty soups, homemade cookies, desserts, and a generous helping of several flavors of Babcock ice cream.
As a lifelong knitter, Betty took advantage of Art’s work and connections in the wool industry, even learning to spin wool yarn and using wool from Art’s sheep to knit a wide variety of items for family and friends. An accomplished seamstress as well, Betty also closely examined any potential clothes purchase to see “how well it was made”. Between knitting and sewing, she usually had a “project” in process for herself or members of her blended family.
Active in a variety of community activities, Betty was a loyal and dedicated member of the West Middleton Lutheran Church. She also was a longtime benefactor and season ticket holder of both the Madison Symphony and Madison Opera. In fact, she enjoyed traveling on many Madison Opera tours to see and hear some of the world’s greatest and most popular operas and performers.
Betty and Art travelled around the world, often where Art had friends or colleagues. One of their last adventures was a trip to the southern tip of South America where Art was in a group that took a rubber raft from the tour boat to see the sheep herds on Tierra Del Fuego Island. Many of these foreign friends often visited them in Madison, and Betty was a perfect hostess seeing that they saw all the local sights and were well fed. She also was the farm “business manager” paying the bills and doing their taxes throughout their marriage, well into her 90’s. In 2018, Betty moved from the farm to a senior living facility. In 2019, she attended the official groundbreaking for the new Pope Farm Elementary, named to recognize the Pope family’s stewardship of the land.
Betty was preceded in death by her parents, husbands Edgar F. Zoerb and Arthur L. Pope, siblings John (Betty) Nord and Shirley (Eric) Svensen, stepdaughter Kathleen, and son David. She is survived by sons Hans (Jan), Erik (Laurie), and daughter-in-law Carol Zoerb, stepchildren Mel (Kristie), Lucille, and William (Kristy) Pope, grandchildren Heidi Zoerb (Bret Payseur), Brian Pope, Mari (Dan) Hansen, Brad (Maria) Pope, Michelle (Fred) Bartman, Elissa Zoerb, Stephanie (Mark) Abramowitz and Andrew (Shervon) Pope, and sixteen great-grandchildren, Grant, Reagan, Quinn, Alana, Caroline, Luke, Bowen and Sarah Pope, Ethan and Megan Hansen, Teagan and Molly Bartman, Ben, Vivian, Penelope and Charlotte Abramowitz.
Cremation has taken place. Funeral services will be held at WEST MIDDLETON LUTHERAN CHURCH on Monday August 22nd, at 11 a.m. Visitation will be at the church from 10:00 a.m. – 11 a.m. and a light lunch will follow the service. The family will conduct a private burial. In lieu of flowers, the family encourages memorials be made to Agrace Hospice Care or the Friends of the Pope Farm Conservancy.
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