RALEIGH — Joyce Pope, a prominent Raleigh philanthropist and mother of state Budget Director Art Pope, died Wednesday at the age of 84.
The governor’s office announced her death on Thursday. No cause was disclosed.
Joyce Pope was president of the John William Pope Foundation, named for her husband, from 1986 to 1992.
Joyce Wilkins was born in Linden, in Harnett County, and graduated from high school in Fayetteville in 1947. She met John William Pope on a blind date in 1948, and they married a year later, according to the foundation.
She watched her husband expand his father’s chain of retail stores into Variety Wholesalers, one of the largest companies of its kind in the Southeast.
In 1965, she established an endowment for the Raleigh Fine Arts Society to encourage art, music and literature in the Raleigh area, and later focused her philanthropic efforts on a performing arts training program for adults and the N.C. Symphony and Carolina Ballet, according to the foundation.
“North Carolina has lost the bedrock of a family that has given so much to this state in terms of philanthropy, leadership and civic engagement,” Gov. Pat McCrory said in a statement. “Her compassion and strength was an example to many, including her son Art, who endured this very difficult time with dignity. His resilience in service to the people of North Carolina during her illness is a fitting tribute to the legacy Joyce Pope has left us all.”
Pope’s hobbies included golf, cooking and travel.
She died the same afternoon her son, Art Pope, debuted the governor’s second budget proposal.
A memorial service will be held Monday at White Memorial Presbyterian Church in Raleigh, according to her obituary on the Brown-Wynne Funeral Home website. There will be a private burial in Oakwood Cemetery.