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Monday, December 6, 2010

Bill Pope, Synthetic Diamond Pioneer, 88

Bill Jordan Pope, recognized for his pioneering contributions in the development of synthetic diamond manufacturing for multiple industries from oil and gas drilling to diamond-coated hip joints, died Tuesday afternoon at his home in Springville, Utah, from natural causes. He was 88

As a renowned scientist who helped found three Utah companies, he was awarded the Utah Governor's Silver Medal Award for science and technology. As a chemical engineering professor and business mentor at Brigham Young University for 20 years, he inspired hundreds of aspiring business leaders.

Mr. Pope was extremely active in business development in Utah where he served as president of MegaDiamond, US Synthetic and Dimicron, all involving the manufacturing and use of synthetic diamonds.

"Bill's accomplishments in the synthetic diamond industry are legendary," said Terry Kane, executive director, Industrial Diamond Association of America. "There are many that have admired and will continue to admire his tremendous work and great innovations for generations to come. He will be greatly missed."

In 1966, Mr. Pope partnered with fellow Brigham Young University professor Duane Horton and Howard Tracy Hall, the first person to produce diamond from carbon using a verifiable and reproducible process, to form Megadiamond, a company that manufactures diamond products for industrial applications.

In 1972, he and his son Louis founded US Synthetic, which manufactures diamond inserts for applications in down-hole drilling tools. In 1998, he founded Dimicron Inc., which makes orthopedic parts for humans out of a diamond and metal composite called Poly-crystalline Diamond Compact.

"As one of the founding fathers of US Synthetic, Bill Pope had a profound influence on the people around him, the business, science and entire HPHT diamond industry," said Rob Galloway, president and CEO of the Orem, Utah based company. "We owe Bill a great debt of gratitude for his fortitude and unquenchable enthusiasm and support for our continued success."

Mr. Pope was active in civic affairs-serving in numerous leadership positions that saw him receive awards and honors including: Utah Valley University's Excellence in Ethics Award, the Freedom Festival's Pioneer of Progress Award, and the Utah Valley Entrepreneurial Forum's Entrepreneur of the Year Award.

His philanthropic generosity was known to both BYU and the University of Utah, where the Science Building is named in his honor and perpetual scholarships at both universities have been established. The Center for Humanitarian Outreach and Intercultural Exchange twice honored Mr. Pope with the Helping Hands Award. And the Provo and Orem Chamber of Commerce recognized Mr. Pope with the Arthur Watkins Award for Businessman of the Year. Mr. Pope has served in numerous volunteer positions in his community and church including bishop, stake president, and regional representative.

Mr. Pope received engineering degrees from the UVU and a PhD from the University of Washington. He received an honorary Doctorate Degree in Business from Utah Valley University. The alumni at BYU also honored Mr. Pope with Emeriti Award for his contributions to the community.

Two video tributes follow:

Mr. Pope is survived by his wife Margaret McConkie Pope, his son Louis and wife Chriss, his daughter Leslie and husband Alan Layton, his daughter Kathryn and husband David Paxman, his daughter Patrice and husband Wayne Tew, 28 grandchildren and 37 great-grandchildren.

Funeral services were held December 4 at the Hobble Creek Stake Center in Springville. Condolences may be sent to the family through the Berg Mortuary of Provo.

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