Jack Pollard

Jack Pollard,

ALTAMONT —  John Pollard III had a fierce loyalty to Altamont.

Known to friends as “Jack,” Mr. Pollard died peacefully on Friday, June 24, 2022. He was 89.

He and his wife hosted diners at their Home Front Café in what at times felt like the village’s living room, a place where people gathered and shared a sense of community. Mr. Pollard was also an active member of the Altamont Volunteer Fire Department for over 70 years. 

He “spent his lifetime selflessly giving back to the community ….,” his family wrote in a tribute. “He cherished his family and friends and will be missed by many.”

Mr. Pollard served in the National Guard for nine years, his family said, and especially loved being a member of NY-Penn Military Vehicle Collectors Club.

He was born on Feb. 17, 1933 in Tarrytown, New York, a son of the late John and Marie Pollard. The Pollard family moved to Altamont in December 1943.

Mr. Pollard told The Enterprise in 2020 that he had grown up in Altamont during its heyday. 

The Pollards lived at 123 Prospect Terrace in the village, a Victorian home built in 1885, which Mr. Pollard described as “a showplace, a palace.” He went on, “It had high ceilings, a built-in ice box, and was the first house in Altamont with central steam heat, the second house to get electricity.”

His parents were icons in Altamont. John Pollard had a fuel company in the village and served as Altamont’s fire chief. Marie Pollard was active in St. Lucy’s Church, cooking at the church restaurant when the Altamont Fair was held.

Mr. Pollard named all the many businesses in the village in his youth. “This was a booming, money-making village,” he said two years ago. “Now it’s nothing but a bedroom village.”

Mr. Pollard, though, developed many businesses of his own. Among them, he started Pollard Excavating together with his son in 1984, where he spent many hours doing what he loved, his family said.

He met Clinda Wellisch, the woman who would become his wife, through her uncle. “I seen a picture of her when she was 5 or 6 and I was 10 or 12. I never thought I’d meet her,” he said.

Mr. Pollard said of himself and his wife, “We both grew up in the Depression and World War II.”

Mrs. Pollard had grown up in Albany. Mr. Pollard went on, “I picked my wife up in Albany and married her. She fit right in with the community.”

Together, they ran the café on Main Street, a popular eatery featuring World War II memorabilia and honoring veterans, which closed in the midst of the pandemic.

Cindy Pollard modeled the café after her mother’s kitchen — complete with a mid-century stove and 1940s patterned tablecloths. The Andrews Sisters crooned “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy” in the background as diners decided between The Victory Garden veggie burger and The MacArthur grilled chicken.

Historic military vehicles from Mr. Pollard’s collection were sometimes displayed outside the café.

Cindy Pollard brought in school kids to talk to World War II veterans. She raised funds for the World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C., hosting a canteen that involved the entire village. Last month, she was the grand marshal of Altamont’s Memorial Day parade.

“I bought it in 1978,” Mr. Pollard said of the building that housed the café. “First it was the Altamont Restaurant, then Cindy’s Country Kitchen,” said Mr. Pollard. The family business, Pollard Disposal, had its office in the building, too.

Judy Slack, a neighbor of the Pollards on Leesome Lane for 35 years, described Mr. Pollard as very friendly. “If you ever asked for a favor, he’d be there with a truck,” she said. “Even if he was feeling terrible, he’d be up. He wouldn’t make his problem yours.”

Mrs. Slack hosts an annual neighborhood picnic and said that, at those gatherings, “People surrounded Jack. He’d be telling stories … He had a great sense of humor.”

“We had a great time,” said Mr. Pollard, reflecting on years of running the Home Front Café with his wife. Last year, Mr. and Mrs. Pollard were each given New York State Senate Commendation Award medals, recognizing them for their years of dedication to veterans, centered around their legendary café.

“We did some great things …,” said Mr. Pollard. “How many people have met a Medal of Honor recipient? We had four of ’em come to our establishment — the first one from World War II and the first one from the Vietnam War.

“They became personal friends. I’ve lost ’em all now,” Mr. Pollard said in 2020, the year the café closed. “The last one passed away last fall.”

****

John Pollard III is survived by his wife of 65 years, Clinda “Cindy” Wellisch Pollard, and by their three sons, John Pollard, Eric Pollard and his wife, Carol, and Marc Pollard and his wife, Wendy.

He is also survived by his seven grandchildren, Nichole, Samantha, Amanda, Adam, Ashley, Evan, and Emily, and by his three great-grandchildren, Kaelan, Anthea, and Chloe.

He is survived, too, by his sister, Michele Wever, and her husband, Ralph; by his two brothers, Thomas Pollard, and James Pollard and his wife, Ruth; and by many nieces and nephews.

His twin sisters, Sheila Bishop and Maureen Johnson, died before him.

Memorial messages may be left at www.altamontenterprise.com/milestones.

Friends and family are invited to a memorial gathering on July 31 from noon to 4 p.m. when Mr. Pollard’s family will be hosting an open house with refreshments. The gathering will be held at the American Legion Helderberg Post 977 at 988 Altamont Blvd. in Altamont.

 
 

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