• Last modified 147 days ago (Dec. 28, 2023)



“In Memoriam” listings are expanded paid obituaries, phrased as the family requests, and may include enhanced information or photographs that might not fit within free death notices.

Randall Pope

Randall Ray Pope, 91, of Gatlinburg, Tennessee, passed away Tuesday, Dec. 19, 2023.

He was born to parents Reuben S. and Enid Lillian (Powers) Pope on Oct. 15, 1932, at their farm near Durham.

After attending the first six elementary grades in rural Ashcraft School, he finished grade and high school in Durham.

Randy was active in 4-H through high school and received a scholarship to Kansas State University for his freshman year.

With the Korean War in full action, he enlisted in the U.S. Navy and served four years in naval air. He took advantage of the GI Bill and returned to Kansas State University and received a bachelor’s degree in landscape architecture in 1958.

During his 36 years with the National Park Service, he had assignments in the Omaha regional office and Grand Teton National Park and as superintendent of Herbert Hoover National Historic Site, Ozark National Scenic Riverways, and Great Smoky Mountain National Park.

He retired in December of 1993 after seven years as superintendent of Great Smoky Mountain National Park.

Randy started the Friends of the Smokies National Park organization in 1993. He was listed in Smokies Life magazine as one of the most influential people in the history of Great Smoky Mountain National Park.

Randy was a member of the Lions Club while stationed at West Branch, Iowa, and president of the Sunrise Lions Club of Omaha. While living in Van Buren, Missouri, he was a member and president of the Rotary Club. He served nearly 15 years in the Gatlinburg Rotary Club.

He married Kathleen V. Higer, a fellow Kansas State student. She was from Hill City and also received a degree from Kansas State.

They had two children, Mark of Grayslake, Illinois, and Renee Polenske of Lake City, Colorado.

In his retirement years, Randy enjoyed traveling, gardening, photography, fishing, and hiking. He loved mountain scenery, both in the Colorado Rockies and the Smoky Mountains.

Randy was very proud of his children, as well as his three grandchildren, Christina Christensen (and husband Geoff) of Grayslake, Illinois; Gregory Pope of Kearney, Nebraska; and Jackie Berger (and husband Christopher) of Grayslake, Illinois.

All five have graduated from universities, Mark with a PhD in biochemistry.

Randy also is survived by great-grandsons Logan and Zachary Christensen.

Randy’s ashes will be scattered in the Smokies later. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to Friends of the Smokies, PO Box 1660, Kodak TN 37764 or Gatlinburg First United Methodist Church, 742 Parkway, Gatlinburg TN 37738.

Online condolences may be made at

Last modified Dec. 28, 2023