Tom Pollard passed away unexpectedly April 10 at his home in Alameda of natural (non-COVID) causes. He leaves behind his loving life partner of 27 years, Sue Dickey; his mother, Mercedes Stark Pollard; brothers Steve (Kathi) Pollard of Carlotta, CA, and Mike (Lenndy) Pollard of Camarillo, CA, and nephews, great nephews and nieces, uncles, cousins, and many friends and colleagues.
Born in Chico, CA, to Mercedes and Clarence Leslie Pollard, Tom grew up in Modesto, CA. He graduated from Davis High School in 1965 and studied English Literature and Theology at CSU San Francisco, graduating in 1969.He earned his master’s degree in English Literature at CSU Stanislaus and his Ph.D. in American Studies from the University of Kansas in 1983. Shortly thereafter he joined the faculty of National University in Oakland (now San Jose), where he taught courses in anthropology, sociology, history, and film studies. He loved teaching and was an outstanding instructor who could inspire students (mostly working adults) from widely diverse backgrounds. For many years he was one of the leading researchers and writers at National, a model for other faculty members.
Tom authored seven books, independently and in collaboration with others. His writings merged critical social theory, political analysis, and American popular culture, tackling daunting topics with a keen eye toward “difference” and what he characterized as “transgression.” He explored a variety of movie genres, from film noir, combat pictures, horror films, Westerns, and blockbusters, bringing original perspectives to popular culture. Tom collaborated with a Canadian filmmaker as researcher, writer, and host of various documentaries, aired on BBC, Discovery Channel, Life Network, the Canadian Broadcasting System, and several PBS channels.
Tom’s interests were vast, and he easily engaged in conversations on a variety of topics with intelligence and a wonderful sense of humor. Tom had a joie de vivre that he shared with Sue including traveling, cooking, grilling, and nature, their beloved West Highland Terrier Sophie, his Berkeley garden, and collecting—from pre-Columbian pottery to antique and ancient Chinese pottery, crystals, coins, and American antiques. He will be sorely missed by all who knew and loved him.
Please leave personal tributes for Tom at greermortuary.com/tributes. In lieu of flowers, the family asks for donations to the Tom Pollard Scholarship Fund, National University Academic Headquarters, 11233N Torrey Pines Rd, La Jolla, CA 92037.
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