John William Pope inherently understood those values. Raised in rural North Carolina, he entered the family business running his father’s five discount-variety stores after World War II. With ‘American dream’ ambition, he built those holdings into Variety Wholesalers Inc., serving hundreds of communities and providing employment for thousands to this day.
The success of Variety Wholesalers allowed the family to create the Pope Foundation in 1986. John’s wife, Joyce Pope, became the first president and Board Chair of the Foundation, and she channeled her passion for philanthropy into meaningful contributions to their home state. Among the Foundation’s first grant recipients were schools, colleges, local hospitals, research institutes, and museums.
Today, as in the past, the Pope Foundation focuses on four main giving areas: public policy, education, humanitarian work, and the arts. From its first grant in 1986 to the present, the Foundation’s giving has totaled over $170 million to nonprofits dedicated to protecting and promoting ideas and programs that advance individual freedom and personal responsibility.
Following John William Pope Sr.’s death in 2006, his youngest son, Art, became Chairman and CEO of Variety Wholesalers and Chairman and President of the Pope Foundation. Today, the Foundation employs a small, efficient staff under the direction of an engaged board of directors who continue to preserve John William Pope’s philanthropic vision and legacy.
John William Pope
Following John William Pope’s death in 2006, his youngest son, Art, became Chairman and CEO of Variety Wholesalers and Chairman and President of the Pope Foundation. Art remains as Chairman of the Board, and with the Board of Directors, continues to preserve John William Pope’s philanthropic vision and legacy.
To the day he passed away, John William Pope believed that hard work was the key to success. “If you love what you are doing,” he said, “are willing to take risks to accomplish your goals, have the support of your family and good people working with you, then you can be a successful entrepreneur whether you are in your twenties or your seventies or eighties.”
Subscribe to our email newsletter for updates and grant information.
We’re available to answer questions or provide assistance if needed.