South Whidbey basketball coach’s passing mourned

Henry Pope, seen here from the 2012-13 boys basketball season, died of cardiac arrest July 25.  - Ben Watanabe / Record file
Henry Pope, seen here from the 2012-13 boys basketball season, died of cardiac arrest July 25.
— image credit: Ben Watanabe / Record file

Henry Pope, a father of three, a husband and longtime South Whidbey basketball coach died early Thursday morning.

He was 57 years old.

Pope is survived by his wife, Teresa, daughters Samantha, 22, and Taylor, 20, and son Lewis, 13.

The death shocked his family. Teresa Pope said her husband had an enlarged heart, unknown to all of them, and high blood pressure. She awoke about 10 minutes before 1 a.m. and saw him struggling to breathe. Teresa attempted resuscitation and cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) while awaiting the arrival of first responders.

EMTs continued CPR as they transported to Whidbey General Hospital where he was pronounced dead.

Pope’s family is planning a memorial service Friday, Aug. 2 at Trinity Lutheran Church. The time is to be determined, but his wife said it will be in the mid-afternoon.

“There are a lot of people that want to be there,” Teresa Pope said.

Sports leadership was a major commitment of Coach Pope’s. He led the Falcon girls basketball team for three seasons before taking over as the boys head coach in the 2010-11 school year, all while working at Boeing as an information security analyst.

Prior to leading the Falcon boys basketball team to its first playoff run in years, he had also coached the Langley Middle School boys team, which became the group of seniors he led to the 2A District 1 playoffs. Kenon Simmons was the junior varsity coach for two seasons, including Pope’s first with the boys program, and recalled Pope’s passion for the players.

“Henry and I had our differences coaching, but I never questioned his love for the kids,” Simmons said.

“He was a family man and a community guy, and this community is going to sorely miss him.”

Once basketball, Pope’s favorite sport, ended, he took little time off before resuming his clipboard and cap for baseball. Pope coached for South Whidbey Little League, including teams his son was on, for several years in addition to coaching fastpitch softball.

“Henry really was suited to coach those kids,” Simmons said.


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