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Charles Pollack ’61

February 4, 2023, in Palo Alto, California.

Born to Samuel and Esther Pollack, Charlie lived in the Bronx until his 10th birthday, when the family, which now included his younger brother David, moved to Van Nuys, California, so Sam could open his own pharmacy. At Van Nuys High School, Charlie lettered as a member of the varsity tennis team.

Charlie began his college career at Reed, but after two years decided to concentrate on a premed curriculum and transferred to UC Berkeley, where he attained his BA in political science. Thereafter, he began his medical training at UC San Francisco. He decided to become a psychiatrist and had his residency at Langley Porter, UCSF. Upon completing his medical training, he took his first position with Contra Costa County and worked at the facility in Pittsburg, California, as a staff psychiatrist. After a number of years in that position, he became the mental health director of Contra Costa County. During this period, Charlie cofounded the Berkeley Therapy Institute, a nonprofit mental health clinic, with a group of fellow mental health professionals that included psychiatrists, psychologists, and marriage and family thereapists. Charlie retired from seeing patients in 2008 but continued to be very involved with BTI as a founder and active member of their board of directors until his death.

A lifelong learner with an avid interest in historical biographies, Charlie had a keen intellect and a fantastic memory for events, statistics, and trivia. He was also a massive San Francisco sports fan, especially of the 49ers during the ’80s and ’90s championship eras. He would record games and rewatch them enough times that he could even call plays. He also loved to travel and was an expert landscape photographer, hiking into Zion National Park at dawn for the best light. Charlie was an enthusiastic member of the UC Alumni Chorus for many years. On chorus trips to Mexico, Eastern Europe, Norway, South Africa, Cuba, and New Zealand, he reveled in singing in grand cathedrals as well as in capturing vivid photographs of the people and scenery.

Charlie was an extremely generous person towards his community and causes that were important to him, including local and national political issues. He was a longtime caregiver and advocate for people with disabilities, and for 10 years was executive director of Maya’s Music Therapy Fund (MMTF), a local nonprofit founded by his wife in honor of her late daughter, Maya. MMTF provides music therapy services to people with developmental, physical, and cognitive disabilities. Charlie’s generosity was a part of his personality; he readily provided his time, advice, and guidance to those who came to him.

Charlie is survived by his wife, Joanna A. Cooper, MD; his brother, David Pollack; and four children, Stephen, Jason, Naomi, and Dina.

Appeared in Reed magazine: Fall 2023

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