This undated photo of Verda "Buddy" Cope Jr. was taken during his tenure as Scott County Judge, which began in 1966. (IH file photo)

ROBBINS — Funeral services are being planned for former Scott County Judge Verda "Buddy" Cope Jr., who died at his home here Monday. He was 81.

Scott Countians from all walks of life paused on Monday to remember the well-respected Cope, who served in a variety of local government and civic roles over the years. On the social media network Facebook, some remembered him as the county's former top official, others from his longtime role as a church leader at Robbins' First Baptist Church, but most remembered him as someone who unfailingly took time from his day to make conversation and almost always wore a smile.

Born to Verda and Geneva Cope in 1936, Buddy Cope was a lifelong resident of Robbins, attending the First Baptist Church there most of his life and later graduating school there.

In 1966, at the age of 30, Cope was elected Scott County Judge, a forerunner to the current county mayor position. He served 16 years in that capacity before being narrowly defeated by a 30-year-old school teacher-turned-grocery owner, Dwight Murphy, in 1982. In the 36 years since, no county mayor, executive or judge has been elected to more than two consecutive terms. Cope was the last, having been elected to four consecutive terms.

Cope joined the staff of West-Murley Funeral Home in 1985, working for more than 30 years as a pre-need sales agent for West-Murley and Jones & Son funeral homes before retiring in 2017.

No stranger to government roles, Cope was called back into duty in the 2000s. He was nearing the age of 70 when he was appointed by Scott County Commission to fill a vacancy in the Circuit Court Clerk's office after the December 2004 death of Jan Burress. Cope served the remainder of Buress' term, which ended in September 2006 upon the election of Donnie Phillips.

Cope also served in a variety of other community roles. He remained active in his church, where he was a former Sunday school superintendent. And, at the time of his death, he was vice-chairman of the board of directors for Mountain People's Health Counsels.

Cope is survived by his wife, Jean. An obituary had not been completed as of Tuesday morning. West-Murley Funeral Home was handling the arrangements.