COOPERSTOWN – Donald O. Pollock, M.D., who led a lifetime of service to others, including a distinguished and wide-ranging medical career with Bassett Hospital that spanned several decades, passed away peacefully in his home Sunday evening, Sept. 29, 2019, surrounded by family and listening to the final Red Sox game of the season. He was 89.
He was born in 1930 in East Orange, N.J., the oldest son of J. Ford and Helen (Glasson) Pollock. He was raised in Brookside N.J., where he also attended grammar school before going to Morristown High School. He graduated from Morristown as the valedictorian of the Class of 1947.
Morristown High School Principal Dr. Ralph Perry recruited Don for summer employment at Kamp Kill Kare in St. Albans, Vt. Providentially, it was at this camp that he met George Kempsell, who played a pivotal role in directing Don to further his education at Hamilton College, from which he graduated magna cum laude in 1951. He went on to complete his M.D. at Harvard Medical School. It was during this time that he met his future wife, Elinor Hopkins, who was working as a nurse at the New England Deaconess Hospital in Boston. They were married June 7, 1953.
In July 1955, Dr. Pollock and his family first came to Cooperstown to serve his internship and residency at the Mary Imogene Bassett (MIB) Hospital. He then served for eight years in the Army Medical Corps, which took the family to a succession of postings, including 2½ years in Eritrea, East Africa. In 1967, Dr. Pollock and his family returned to Cooperstown and Bassett Hospital, where he began a medical career of great distinction that would continue until his retirement in 1999.
A man of integrity, compassion and vision, Dr. Pollock’s contributions to medical care for the people of Central New York included service as chief of the General Services Department, associate director for emergency services, long-time medical director of The Meadows (when it was the Otsego County Nursing Home), head of Bassett’s Division of Community Medicine (now the Prime Care Clinic) and the hospital’s expert in dermatology. He later served as a member of Bassett’s Board of Trustees (1999-2011).
Dr. Pollock championed the introduction of advanced healthcare professionals to expand patient care – mentoring the first independent nurse practitioner in New York State (the late Genevieve Kent-Waller) – and also promoted the establishment of Bassett satellite clinics in surrounding communities. Don completed his 22 years of military service with the Army Reserve’s 414th Civil Affairs Unit in Utica, retiring as a full colonel.
Devoted to his family, community and alma mater, Don freely gave of his time and service. Whether he was coaching the Cooperstown Dry Cleaners Little League team, cooking hot dogs at the Presbyterian Church’s annual Ice Cream Social, or serving on the advisory committees and boards (including the Alumni Council at Hamilton and as an alumni trustee), he cheerfully did so with the same spirit of generosity, humility and dedication – not to mention, a darn good sense of humor. He enjoyed golf, gardening, reading, word puzzles, eating at the Doubleday, and anything Scottish. His support for the Boston Red Sox was legendary…as was his sweet tooth.
In his later years, Don was able to enjoy travel and Elderhostel experiences with Elinor, and to offer additional service to his church. A member of the First Presbyterian Church since 1969, Don served in church leadership as elder, treasurer and clerk of session, and was a member and/or chair of numerous committees.
Don was a model of devotion during his wife’s final years as a resident of The Manor/Focus. He visited her every day, usually twice a day, to enjoy her company and to help care for her.
Don is survived by four children and spouses, Donabeth and Gil Urick of Bonita Springs, Fla., Peter and Diana Pollock and Sally and Bud Zaengle of Cooperstown, and Jim and Sharon Pollock of Georgetown; nine grandchildren and three great grandchildren, Philip Zaengle and wife, Amanda, and their sons, Henry and Everett, Owen Zaengle and wife, Emily, and their daughter, Wilma, Sam Zaengle and wife, Donna, Helen Zaengle, Jacob Zaengle, Karl Zaengle, Mary Zaengle, Laurel Zaengle and Benjamin Pollock; a brother, Stewart G. Pollock, Esq.; a sister, Polly Leaf; and many nieces and nephews.
He was predeceased by his beloved wife of 62 years, Elinor H. Pollock, and their oldest son, the Rev. Stewart A. Pollock.
Friends and colleagues may call and pay their respects 7-9 p.m. Friday, Oct. 11, at the Connell, Dow & Deysenroth Funeral Home, when the Pollock family will be in attendance.
A Memorial Service to the Glory of God and in Thanksgiving for the Life of Donald O. Pollock, M.D. will be offered at 3 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 12, at the First Presbyterian Church of Cooperstown, with the Rev. Elsie A. Rhodes, pastor, officiating. Following the service there will be a time for refreshment and fellowship in the adjoining Chapel.
He will be laid to rest with his wife and son in The Columbarium in the Presbyterian Churchyard.
For those who wish to remember Dr. Pollock through a memorial gift, his family respectfully requests that donations be made to Cooperstown Youth Baseball, PO Box 282, Cooperstown, NY 13326.
Arrangements are under the care and guidance of the Connell, Dow & Deysenroth Funeral Home in Cooperstown.