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Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Remembering Dorothe Pollard

Dot always projected a sort of 1950s classic elegance.

It is probably safe to say that without Dorothe Pollard (known as Dot to her friends), there would be no Van Wyck Brooks Historic District.

She worked tirelessly alongside John Grady to define the district's boundaries, and do the research on the hundreds of homes that are included in the district, piecing together a successful application for designation on the National Register of Historic Places (one of two such districts in the Queen City).

In later years, she and John collaborated on a picture book of historic and vintage photos of Plainfield homes and daily life published by Arcadia in its "Images of America" series -- still available on Amazon (see here) and in Barnes & Noble bookstores.

John Grady and Dot Pollard's picture book
on Plainfield is available from Amazon and B&N.

But my memories of Dot center on her work at United National Bank where she was an Assistant VP for Public Relations.

Dot was a petite dynamo. She always seemed to carry about her an air of a southern "belle" and at the same time a "Seven Sisters" graduate with her cashmere sweaters and impeccable blouse and skirt "uniform". Only when reading her obituary (see here),did I learn that she was born and raised in Vineland, which may account for the "southern" feel. And graduating from Douglass College puts one in mind of the seven sisters women's colleges.

Because Dot was a two-fisted smoker, she was banished to the historical Sutphen House on the far side of the 2nd Street parking lot, which was fine with her. The Sutphen House was expanded with the addition of a classroom and designated as the bank's Community Reinvestment program.

Dot oversaw the community's use of the building for meetings and classes. I offered several seminars there for nonprofits, clubs and churches titled "Getting Ink" on how to improve getting the word out about their events. As a result, I became a sort of "scout" for her, passing along contact information for groups that needed an occasional (and free) meeting space with plenty of parking. And she would call me regularly, asking me to present the program again, saying it was a frequently requested topic.

After Dot retired in 2001, the bank (United National at the time) gradually abandoned the public use of the space on a come-one, come-all basis, eventually renting it at no cost to a group providing immigrant services.

Dot was part of a regular crowd that lunched at Bill's Luncheonette on East Front Street, where she swapped gossip and business news with Plainfield's downtown businessmen.

She will be sorely missed and fondly remembered as a vital part of Plainfield in that period when the city was waiting to launch it's 21st-century chapter.

Visitation is Thursday morning (June 8) from 9 AM to 10 AM, with a funeral service at 10 AM, at Memorial Funeral Home on South Avenue in Fanwood.

  -- Dan Damon [follow]
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