Thomas R. Shope

Born in Belle Plaine, Iowa, Tom Shope arrived in Coolidge, Arizona, at the age of 4 and has lived here ever since. Shope grew up in in a home on the corner of Main Street & Elm Avenue in Coolidge and was raised in that home by his parents, Russell and Anna Shope, along with his sisters Pat, Jennifer, Mary, and Beth.

During his time in the Coolidge school system, Shope attended South School, North School, Intermediate School, Coolidge Junior High School, and then Coolidge High School. During his high school years, Shope played basketball and baseball for the Bears. Upon graduating from Coolidge High School in 1966, Shope enrolled at Eastern Arizona College in Thatcher, Arizona and later attended Arizona State University in Tempe, Arizona finishing six credit-hours short of a bachelor’s degree in Accounting at Arizona State.

It was during his time at Arizona State University that Shope truly embarked on his lifelong commitment to Coolidge High School and Coolidge, Arizona, when he began his 40-plus year tenure as the “Voice of the Bears”, broadcasting for radio stations KCKY, KQEZ, and TV Channels 11 and 19. During that time, Shope painted the picture for the fans at home for 7 State Football Championship Seasons and 5 State Basketball Championship Seasons while broadcasting games that featured numerous players from Coolidge and their opponents who would later go on to have collegiate and professional careers in athletics.

Shope assumed control of his family’s business, Shope’s Market, in 1970. He oversaw the completion of his father Russell’s dream of a larger building for the market, now called Shope’s IGA. From the time of assuming control of the business, Shope has been active in the Coolidge Chamber of Commerce, Retail Grocers Association of Arizona (now Arizona Food Marketing Alliance) and the National Grocers Association. Some of the highlights of that involvement include being selected as AFMA’s Arizona Retailer of the Year in 1999, IGA’s Arizona Retailer of the Year in 1990 and the winner of NGA’s Spirit of America Award in 1988. He has also served as the Chairman of IGA-Arizona and RGA as well as serving a term as President of the Coolidge Chamber of Commerce.

Shope’s political and community involvement began in 1973 when he was appointed to fill out a term on the Coolidge School Board after being defeated in the previous year’s election. Since then, he has served as the Mayor of Coolidge for eight terms as of 2012 and for many years was the only Republican Mayor in what was then a solid Democratic Pinal County.

Shope attends St. James Roman Catholic Church in Coolidge, where he has resided for all but four of his years, and is active in the St. James Knights of Columbus. Shope is married to Luz and has four children; Cyndi, Zandra (CHS Class of 1995), Kelli, and Thomas “T.J.” (CHS Class of 2003).

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