Published: January 21, 2003
By R. Scudder Smith
HIGHLAND PARK, ILL. — Frank Stephen Pollack, 67, husband of Barbara Pollack, died of cancer on Friday, January 17. He was a lawyer and was active in his firm, Pollack, Weis & DuBrock on La Salle Street in Chicago, until his death. He was also an avid painter, taking part in many of the art fairs about the country, and was both a collector and seller of books and antiques. “Frank loved to read and was an authority on first edition mystery books,” his wife Barbara said. He was also a big fan of blues, jazz and classical music.
Frank Pollack grew up on the North Side of Chicago where he attended Stewart Elementary School and Senn High School. His undergraduate work and law degrees came from the University of Michigan, where he received a triple degree in law, accounting and finance.
Frank and Barbara Pollack were childhood sweethearts and Barbara remembers that “way back then he started taking me to all kinds of book stores and he let me know early on about his passion for book collecting.” His interest in books led him to write some of his own, children’s books in which he used his own grandchildren. Because of his modesty, none of the books have been published to date, “but I am going to see that they are published now,” Barbara said. During the last year Frank began writing his autobiography entitled, “I Was Just a Man, Frank Stephen Pollack, My Life.”
In his early thirties he began drawing realistic subjects in pencil and pastel, and later moved into what he called “The Round People,” bright and cheery paintings in acrylics of “Schmoo-like” figures. The men were rendered in large checkered ties, the women with big black sweeps of hair. His collecting interests led him into American painted toleware and political campaign bandanas and he formed important collections in both fields.
Frank and Barbara Pollack, American Antiques & Art, became very well-known in the antiques business. For many years they took part in shows about the country, including the Greater York Antiques Show, the Folk Art Show, and the ADA Show. They were regulars at the Winnetka Antiques Show, and for several years took part in the Winter Antiques Show in New York City. They were also major players at many of the auctions, often coming away with wonderful pieces of folk art, folk paintings and painted furniture, all of which they became well-known for.
“Grace and I have known Frank and Barbara for 30 years,” fellow antiques dealer Elliott Snyder said, “and he was one of the best men I have ever known, a real super mensch.” (In Yiddish, a person of the highest human qualities.) Elliott spoke of the great love that Frank had for both Barbara and his family, and that he was supportive of every move that Barbara made in the business.
“He was a great joke teller, a smart businessman and a person who always had a helping hand for those in and out of the antiques business,” Elliott said. He mentioned that he had talked to Frank within a couple of weeks of his passing and “Frank never complained about his condition or even felt sorry for himself, he had great inner strength and was truly a really good and decent man.”
“Frank was intelligent, caring, sensitive and funny,” Arthur Liverant of Colchester, Conn., said. “He could always make you feel good, lift your spirits, despite any condition and his support of Barbara and his family is legendary.” Arthur smiled when he recalled a favorite saying Frank had when he was asked to do something that he would rather not. “I can’t, it’s Shemini Atzeret,” he would say, referring to a holiday that was probably only recognized by members of the Jewish community. Arthur added, “We always thought of Frank and Barbara as one, and it is hard to believe that has ended.”
Frank is survived by three sons, Mark, Glenn and Robert, a daughter, Jodi, and three grandchildren. Services took place on Sunday, January 19, at North Suburban Synagogue Beth El in Highland Park and burial was in Shalom Memorial Park in Arlington Heights.
Contributions in Frank’s memory can be made to the Richard H. Knop Research Foundation, c/o Evanston Hospital, 2650 Ridge Road, Evanston, IL 60201 or the American Cancer Society, 820 Davis Street, Suite 340, Evanston, IL 60201
Frank and Barbara Pollack set their sights high in the field of antiques, always seeking a masterpiece in their area of collecting. Barbara noted that she found one a long time ago, reflecting on a favorite quote by Ralph Waldo Emerson, “A friend may well be reckoned the masterpiece of nature.” She said, “Frank was my friend and masterpiece in life, and one I never wanted to lose.”
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