Jim Pope still rockin’ and rollin’ at age 60

Don’t tell Jim Pope he’s 60.

He’s too busy rock n’ rolling.

The owner of the State Farm insurance agency off West First North Street spends his days inside his red brick building office in the career he’s been involved with for more than 30 years. But, by night, he has banged the drums since he was knee high to a grasshopper.

“I’ve been drumming since I was in fifth grade,” Pope said.

Pope and his wife Connie have lived in Morristown for 16 years. Before that, they lived in Nashville. His daughter, Devan, is a student at Colorado State University working on a graduate degree after finishing her bachelor’s degree at the University of Tennessee.

Insurance sales is a family business with Pope’s father being an agent at a State Farm in Murfreesboro. But Pope took the long way to becoming an agent.

He first got a degree from Tennessee Technological University in electrical engineering and later got a degree in biology from Middle Tennessee State University.

He got married to Connie just after college and then left to Dallas, Texas to work as an engineer for Texas Instruments.

His heart wasn’t in it, so he headed back home to give insurance a try. He started his insurance career in 1988.

Later, he thought he would try management. So, he became a manager for State Farm and he and Connie moved to Arkansas.

He stayed there for three years, but it wasn’t right.

So, Pope found out that Tommy Harris was about to retire in Morristown. Harris retired and Pope took over the business.

“We like it a lot,” Pope said. “It’s a nice place. It was a bit of a culture shock at first.”

Pope has integrated into the community playing drums at Manley Baptist Church and for the Encore Theatrical Company. For almost 10 years, he also played drums for the Walters State Jazz Band.

Last summer, he also started doing CrossFit after he found a fellow agent doing it.

He said he’s been a runner all of his life, but for the first time he saw a program where he could build muscle onto his wiry frame.

He said he loves the group atmosphere and how things are planned.

“I need the discipline,” he said.

Pope and a few friends will soon play at a Java Jive at the Rose Center in May.

He has a story to tell about how he first learned to play.

When he was in fifth grade, he started playing in band. He played the snare drum like most kids that age.

His Sunday school teacher found out and invited him to come see his drum set. Pope went into the house and saw a drum set for the first time in his life.

So, he started playing it.

“I’d go over there about every day and just sit and play drums,” he said.

There’s another catch to the story.

The Sunday school teacher was left handed, so Pope, learnedhow to play the drums backwards.

He looks back and thinks it would have been easy to remedy the situation and just adjust the drums and play right handed.

But, he’s busy rock n’ and rollin’.

“That’s a handicap I’ve carried all my life,” he said, laughing. “A left handed drum set when I’m right handed.”

Pope, along with other friends, will be playing the Java Jive concert series at the Rose Center on May 17.