Wanda D Hope

April 5, 1934July 7, 2018

Wanda Leigh Hope passed from this life on July 7, 2018 at the age of 84. She was born April 5, 1934 in Tampa to Edgar Millen and Elizabeth Grace Dunbar.

She was preceded in death by her husband Joe Hope, Sr., stepson, Bob Hope, brother Millen (Butch) Dunbar, and first husband Sherman Hayes.

Survivors include her son, David Hope (Carolyn Snyder), brothers Jerry Dunbar (Cheryl), and Randy Dunbar (Vonda). Her family also includes step children that she raised and called her own: Ken Hope (Mardi), Ted Hope, Joe Hope, Jr., daughter-in-law, Jean Hope, Sherman Hayes, Jr. (Tyree) Stephanie Kroll (Gerry), and many beloved grandchildren, great grandchildren, nieces and nephews.

Wanda was a Tampa native and grew up with a love for dance and entertaining. As a student at Miss Ella Mae’s School of Dance, she was an accomplished dancer, especially in ballet and acrobatics. After graduating from Hillsborough High School in 1953, she traveled the US and into Canada with various dance troupes. Her career continued in Las Vegas where she was part of the dance chorus at many famous hotels for several years. She was quick to say she was not a “show girl” but did the hard work of dance routines and performance.

She always amazed us with stories of actors, singers and performers that she met and worked with over the years, including Liberace, Judy Garland, Sammy Davis, Ella Fitzgerald, Tony Bennett, Harry Belafonte, who taught her how to play Conga drums, and of course, Elvis.

She married Sherman Hayes and soon joined his band as a vocalist and reluctant drummer. They were married 13 years until his death in 1967.

Her next chapter was her great love, Joe Hope, Sr. and they married in 1970. Wanda never quit performing and played drums at the American Legion Post 111 in Tampa every Saturday night for 25 years, only retiring her band (The Hi-Hopes) in 2005.

Continuing with her love of music, Wanda joined the Sugartime Singers in 2011 and contributed as a vocalist and percussionist. She considered this group a lifesaver after the loss of her husband Joe, and was proud of being a part of an ensemble that brought joy to residents at local nursing homes, retirement facilities and at community events.

Also, in 2007, Wanda became a proud member of the Riverview Ladies of the Moose. Wanda Leigh Hope was loved by many with her endearing personality, love of entertaining and zest for life.

Flowers will be accepted or donations can be made to Women of the Moose, P.O. Box 3488, Riverview, FL 33568. A celebration of life will be held at Riverview Moose Lodge in Gibsonton, Florida on Sunday, July 22nd at 2 pm. The address for her service at the Moose Lodge and delivery of flowers is 9000 Honeywell Rd. Gibsonton, FL 33534.


  • Celebration of Life Sunday, July 22, 2018

Wanda D Hope

have a memory or condolence to add?

Mary Lou Harden

July 22, 2018

I am deeply saddened at Wanda’s passing away. My life has truly been enriched by knowing her. What a great lady! I loved her quick wit, her enthusiastic support of Sugartime Singers, and her love of music.

She had lots to brag about, having worked with so many talented, famous people, but she never did. She was just “one of us” at Sugartime, but everyone loved and respected her. Our audiences fell in love with her. At one of our more recent performances, someone in the audience stood following her solo, and praised her effusively, after which the entire audience erupted in enthusiastic applause. That was very touching, and it meant a lot to Wanda.

The Bolshoi Ballet has been in US cinemas and Wanda and I had plans in late July to see Romeo & Juliet and Swan Lake. She would have been thrilled with both of them. And I think I had almost converted her to love opera!

She is already sorely missed and will continue to be missed. I am thankful that I had the privilege of knowing and working with such a special lady.

I send my love, sympathy and prayers to all the family – whom she always praised and dearly loved!

Beth Redman

July 20, 2018

Wanda, You will really be missed! You were a great neighbor and friend, You were family!

I remember when you all moved into the neighborhood! Your family fit right into all our lives. It was the Redmans, Varnadores, Sharps and the Hopes! Lots of kids, different ages, and all together great fun! We all looked out for one another! There were pool parties, music, and stories. Running the neighborhood! Some of the best times in my life that I will never, ever forget!

Mom and I were so looking forward to your group starting back up in the fall so that we could hear you all sing at the ALF's and nursing homes. But, I know your still singing! Until we meet again! All my Love, Beth!

Jeanne Harding

July 19, 2018

My dear, beautiful friend,
Your joy of life transmitted wherever you took your smile and the sparkle in those unforgettable eyes. You were so important to me. I will cherish every moment with you, every phone conversation we had, and all the scrumptious recipes you shared with me. I now share them with my grandchildren, who adored you and could not get enough of hearing directly from you, your fascinating, inspiring life story.
“Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to imagination and life to everything.” Plato
YOU were the embodiment of this quote. I loved being in your presence, standing next to this “jewel” in our performances with Sugartime singers. I was honored and proud, and tried to follow your every lead. We a treasure you were.
I will always love you, Wanda. I am glad you knew that and that we got to tell each other every time we spoke.
Love, Jeanne Harding

Susan DiFranco

July 19, 2018

I'm so sorry to hear of Wanda's passing. She was a dear friend to my father, Zig Skowronski, who was saxophonist in Hi Hopes for many years. She was there for him during his battle with cancer, it meant so much to him. I'm betting they're putting the band back together now! Your family is in my thoughts and prayers.
Sue (Skowronski) DiFranco

Sara Appelbaum

July 18, 2018

Please accept my sympathies for the loss of Wanda Hope. I worked with Wanda as an election worker sometime around 2004.She was a delight with a wonderful wit and many, many stories.
I could not let her death go unnoticed and I am grateful for having met such an engaging and full of zest human being.
Again, I am very sorry for your loss.

Steven Redman

July 16, 2018

Wanda was not just a neighbor but family.She was like a second mother. The nights and days we spent playing crazy eight was awesome.I will miss her dearly.Love you Wanda. We will meet again.