50th Anniversary Golden Nugget: Halford Jewell Pope

By Richard Burke

During the past 50 years, there have doubtless been many “characters” who lived in The Landings. One such person was Hal Pope, known to The Landings'  tennis community as The Bionic Man. Only three-tenths of one percent of males live to celebrate their 100th birthday, but Hal made it to 108! Along the way, he married and outlived three wives. He married his last wife when he was 87 and she was 74. They met on a trip to Austria and married after a six-week, whirlwind romance following their return. Still, they managed to reach their 20th wedding anniversary before she died at age 94.

Hal was a graduate of Harvard, Class of 1925 and in 2011 Harvard recognized him as their oldest living alumni. Following graduation and six months of travel in Europe, Hal spent 35 years with Union Carbide and Carbon Corporation in accounting and computer systems, retiring in 1963. While in his final position as Computer Systems Manager, he was instrumental in the transfer of manual operations to data processing.

Over the course of his life, Hal was a Presbyterian, a Methodist, and a Unitarian. He enjoyed investing, bridge, gardening, racquet sports, and was an avid tennis player well into his 80s.

Whence comes the moniker Bionic Man? As noted, Hal loved tennis and played into his 80s, invariably arriving at the courts with elbows, wrists, knees, and ankles smothered in ace bandages. Not agile enough to compete against middle-aged men, he often satisfied his love of the game by trading volleys with children, my 12-year-old son among them.