Shirley L. Pope, 80: Raised prize-winning flowers

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PORTLAND — Shirley Pope, 80, died at The Barron Center on Jan. 3.

Pope was born in Lewiston July 27, 1935, the daughter of Linwood and Delcia Brackett. She grew up in Lewiston and attended Edward Little High School.

She married Maurice B. Pope Jr. when she was 18. Pope was a homemaker for several years, during which time her passion for gardening and collecting specimen plants was awakened. Her large backyard was gradually turned into a beautiful tour garden, where many visitors were welcomed. She later started a business called Pope’s Perennials on the property, which were shipped around the U.S. and abroad. 

Pope was a well-known expert on growing and hybridizing irises. For several years she worked closely with Dr. Currier McEwen raising and hybridizing Siberian and Japanese irises. A Siberian iris hybridized by McEwen was named “Shirley Pope” in her honor. Pope was a member of the American Iris Society, The Maine Iris Society and the Siberian Iris Society. Among her many published articles was a popular column written for Maine Woman called “Perennial Yours.” Pope attended conventions all over the U.S. and won many medals, ribbons and awards for her prized irises. She was a judge and lectured on irises and gardening. Pope was a self-educated expert on daylilies and hostas as well. She also enjoyed watching football and reading crime and mystery books. 

Pope worked part time at L.L Bean and also worked airport security at Portland International Jetport. Her last job was with the Visitor Information Bureau at the Jetport.

Pope is survived by her husband, Maurice, of Portland; a daughter, Viola Pope Marcussen and two grandchildren, Martin Holde and Louise Marcussen, all of Copenhagen, Denmark.

Her family would like to thank the Barron Center. Pope donated her body to the University of New England, College of Osteopathic Medicine. There will be no visiting hours or funeral.

Donations in her memory may be made to The Baxter Memorial Library, 71 South St., Gorham ME 04038.