Saluting Our Veterans - Dr. Richard Pollard
On Veterans Day, we honor and remember our country’s veterans for their valor and service. We are delighted to honor centenarian Dr. Richard Pollard, a resident of Chelsea Retirement Community, for his service as a physician and United States Medical Officer.
Richard was born 100 years ago in Norway, Michigan in the state’s Upper Peninsula and was raised on a farm, shares his son, Robert Pollard. “Their days were long with responsibility,” says Robert. “Dad and four of his brothers shared one bed.”
Richard’s mother died when he was just 14, in part because she couldn’t get the medical care she needed. “At a young age, he became a farmer, student, and mother to his younger brothers,” says Robert.
Many community members were influential in Richard’s life, however. His 4H leader, Miss Solomonson, for example, took an interest in Richard and encouraged him to work hard in all his endeavors. She inspired his love of gardening, an activity he still enjoys.
Richard’s pastor of the local United Methodist Church also encouraged him to achieve his potential. “The pastor believed in my dad and helped him get accepted at Albion College,” says Robert. “Many of the church’s young parishioners went on to have successful careers and professional lives, far more than would be expected in a poor rural area, during the Depression and World War II. It was unusual for the oldest son of a farmer to leave the farm to go to college. Dad hitchhiked his way to college.”
Once at Albion College, Richard excelled in his academics. After completing one year at Albion, he enlisted in the Navy at age 19. “During World War II, there was a great need for doctors,” explains Richard’s daughter, Pat Raaen. “Because of his aptitude, he was sent to Bowling Green College for an accelerated pre-med program then on to Wayne State Medical School.”
Richard served in the Navy as a medic and as a physician in North Dakota, doing intake physical exams for new recruits during the Korean War. “He served 41 years in the Navy, mostly in Reserve,” says Robert of his dad who retired as a Commander. Richard was also a pathologist at what is now Detroit Medical Center.
Richard was married twice and has five children, seven grandchildren, and three great grandchildren. In the past, he was a member of the Elks and loved traveling, and he continues his love of gardening. “This year, at age 99 (now 100), Dad won 21 first place prizes and 10 second place prizes at the same (Dickinson County) fair he entered in 1937!” says Robert.
Richard’s life of service to others throughout his career was the result of the interest and caring shown to him as a young man by those in his life who saw his potential. “Dad was encouraged by so many influences to become the person he is today: his parents, his church, his 4H leader, and the U.S. Navy,” says Pat. “He has lived a life of gratitude, kindness, and generosity. He established a scholarship at Wayne State University. He also endowed the Dickinson County 4H program, and the agricultural building at the Dickinson County Fair is named after him due to his many years of participation and donations.”
Thank you to Richard and to all the veterans who live and work among our Brio Living Services communities—as residents, participants, and team members! We are grateful for your service.