Celebrating James Pope’s life at Hopleaf Bar, Jan. 15

The late James Pope would not have wanted a memorial service, says his long-time friend, producer / production manager Michelle Breger. Instead, a celebration of Pope’s life will be held on Sunday, Jan. 15 at the Hopleaf Bar and Restaurant, 5148 N. Clark St. from noon to 4 p.m.

On the evening of Dec. 26, Pope, 52, was tragically struck and killed by a semi-trailer on westbound expressway I-80 near Seneca. He had pulled his Jeep over on the side of the road to change a flat tire. The spare tire was also flat and Pope was trying to inflate it with a bicycle pump when somehow he had stepped back into the same lane of traffic in which the semi was traveling.

Several hundred industry people are expected to attend the celebration, says Breger, who is co-hosting the celebration with Michael Roper, Hopleaf’s owner of 25 years. “James had worked here as a bartender on Sundays for 12 years and we were very close friends even longer,” says Roper. “James had plans for the future. He’d been driving around Michigan and Illinois looking for a place to buy in the country where he and his son could spend weekends. That’s why he was on the expressway.”

For the gathering of friends and associates, and the visit of Pope’s older brother from Boston, Roper will serve some of Pope’s favorite foods. Proceeds from all food and drink sales will go into an educational fund for Pope’s 11-year old son, Caleb, a student at Rogers Park Montessori School.

A GoFundMe.com page has been set up to help fund Caleb’s education. So far, $33,000 has been contributed towards the $50,000 goal that Breger and Roper believe will be surpassed.

Michael Acuna, co-owner with Pope of Schumacher Camera since 2006, and a co-worker for 10 years before that, says “the outpouring of help in the business, in whatever area it’s needed, has been overwhelming.

“Kind, reliable and generous volunteers have been pitching in to see that camera preps go smoothly and provide an extra hand for tech work,” Acuna says.

All are welcome to attend Pope’s life celebration, says Breger, who asks that you RSVP her at michellebreger@mac.com.