Richard Downing “Dick” Pope, Jr. was the son of Cypress Garden’s founder, Richard D. Pope, Sr. Pope, Jr. was responsible with starting the first water ski shows at his father’s tourist attraction. Along with his skiing friends, he awed audiences from around the world with his skills, which his father had taught him from an early age. He was among the first in the sport to barefoot water ski.
His success was quite large, even wining several World Championships in the 1950s. After his father stepped down, Pope, Jr. assumed the role as president of the Gardens until 1985. Even after the parks closing in 2003, he remained active in trying to preserve the gardens, often making trips to Tallahassee to convince the governmental offices to keep Cypress Gardens open and in business. After a brief bout with pancreatic cancer, Dick Pope, Jr. died on November 8, 2007.