Lawrence P. Pollack

Lawrence P. Pollack

Nov 7, 1933 – May 21, 2017

For Lawrence Pollack, if you weren’t where you were supposed to be at least five minutes early, you were late. Such structure and punctuality, a legacy of his career as a naval aviator, often found expression in his announcement of an approaching “pushback time” – the exact moment it was time to leave, whether he was taking family to the airport, meeting friends for a meal, or volunteering with his therapy dog, Ranger. In the early hours of May 21st, after living a life full of purpose, friendship and enthusiasm, Lawrence pushed back for the final time. He was 83.

A native of Omaha, Lawrence enjoyed three careers. As a navy pilot, who retired as a captain in the U.S. Naval Reserve after 24 years of flying, he enjoyed adventures around the world. In his early years of service, he regularly flew from Hawaii to Alaska and back, as part of the Airborne Early Warning Line on watch for a missile attack from Russia. Later, his plane took some flak – but was not shot down – over Vietnam. In another instance, he watched in awe as lightning struck the nose of his aircraft, enveloping the entire plane in a beautiful, crackling blue light. It was all part of the excitement and beauty of his job.

Often, when he returned home to his family, he brought souvenirs from his travels – a sword from Spain, a straw hat from Cuba, an exotic urn from the bazaars of Turkey. Wherever his missions took him, Lawrence loved flying, loved his crewmates, and loved serving his country. He retired in 1979, turning over command of his squadron in a ceremony at the Memphis Naval Air Station. He took great pride in his military service for the rest of his life. A small sign on the birdfeeder outside his patio door proudly states “Home of the Free because of the Brave”. Only the birds that drop by (and a few acrobatic squirrels) get a free lunch.

Lawrence earned a degree in Agriculture from the University of Nebraska that related to his second career – working with his dad, Harold Pollack, on the family farm near Elkhorn. While the business was called the Omaha Feeding Company, he called the farm Chosen Hill. From the late 1950s to the early 1980s, he rose every morning long before dawn, met Harold for breakfast, then drove out to 168th and Blondo to feed the cattle, rain or shine or blizzard. A coffee break came mid-morning, with the tires of his pale green Cadillac humming over the worn bricks of the old Lincoln Highway on the way into Elkhorn. To the amazement of visiting nieces and nephews, the car ran without keys.

Late in the afternoon of a hot Nebraska summer, after the cattle were cared for, the fields tended, the weeds mowed, the silos topped off and the tractors back in the shed, Lawrence sometimes walked up to the grove of cottonwoods that crowned the farm’s highest point to look over the feedlots below and the sea of tasseled corn beyond. Along with Clyde, his favorite farm dog, he might then take a short nap on a bench by the farm’s cool cistern, a buried tanker car from the Union Pacific Railroad, whose trains regularly whistled past the farm’s southern property line en route to San Francisco.

But if the work was hard and the farming business dependent on many factors beyond his control, Lawrence never complained, because that’s what he learned from Harold, whom Lawrence called “the best man I ever knew.” Besides, the farm wasn’t just work, it was a place to host family barbeques, Fourth of July picnics, Boy Scout campouts, and occasional field trips from the youth groups at Temple Israel. Community and family, especially family, were central to Lawrence’s life. With his first wife Enid, he raised Danny, Kathy and Sally, imbuing in all three children the paramount importance of hard work, integrity, generosity, service and kindness.

Together, and despite his duties to farm and Navy, Lawrence showed them America with vacations to the mountains of Colorado, the Great Lakes of Michigan, the boundary waters of Minnesota and the beaches of Florida – all places to share the beauty of nature with each other, with grandparents, with aunts and uncles and cousins. Because what is life for if you don’t share it with the people you love, eating and joking and reminiscing? Always a dutiful son, he spent many Sunday mornings at his parents’ home, where his mom Sylvia would happily make crepes for three generations of Pollacks. In that same spirit, for decades, he often celebrated Shabbat dinner at the home of his aunt and uncle, Dorothy and Henry Riekes.

Lawrence’s third career was in real estate. As life changed and Omaha grew, he left farming and embraced the challenge of helping families find just the right home. And if the endeavor didn’t inspire him in quite the same way that flying and farming did, it allowed him to put his gift for building new relationships, his wisdom about life, and his abiding spirit of community to good use. Arriving at one listing, he found a small one-eyed dog abandoned and whimpering on the home’s doorstep. He gave it a bath, a name and a new home – his. He even fitted his new companion, Honey, for her own life jacket, so that he could take her sailing on Escape, his 25’ MacGregor.

Over the years, as Lawrence gradually shifted from real estate into retirement, he began putting more of his time into volunteer work: visiting with patients in the hospital, delivering care packages to the elderly, and taking his therapy dog, Ranger, to cheer up people struggling through hard times.

Never one to think life’s joys were over, Lawrence was 61 when he married Jan Grimsley. Between courtship and marriage, he and “Griz”, as he affectionately called her, enjoyed nearly 20 great years together before she died of cancer in 2008. Two years ago, Lawrence moved from their longtime home on 91st Street in Omaha to Hillcrest Estates, in Papillion. There, he made an entirely new group of friends who appreciated his upbeat attitude, wisdom, and sense of humor even as the health challenges of age began to mount.

Lawrence is survived by his daughters, Sally and Kathy Pollack of San Carlos, California; his son, Danny Pollack and daughter-in-law, Barbara of Seattle, along with granddaughters Lara and Beth; his brother, Henry, and sister-in-law, Lana; and his sister, Judy Pazol and brother-in-law, Larry. Many cousins, nephews, nieces and friends also mourn his loss.

CELEBRATION OF LIFE with military honors will be held on Saturday, August 5th beginning at 10am at the Magnolia Hotel, 1615 Howard St. in Omaha. In lieu of flowers, please consider supporting one of his favorite charities: The Nebraska Humane Society at 8929 Fort Street, Omaha, NE 68134; or the Visiting Nurse Association, at 12565 West Center Road, Omaha, NE 68144.

Many years ago, on a summer night, he taught his kids, nephews and nieces how to construct homemade hot-air balloons from dry-cleaning bags, a few drinking straws, and a handful of birthday candles. The balloons they set aloft glowed until they finally disappeared into the night. Lawrence, too, still flies in our memory.





  • Samuel Mandolfo Posted May 23, 2017 8:33 am

    Sorry for your loss he was a great friend who always had time to share with others

  • Jan Novack Posted May 23, 2017 2:31 pm

    Sending sympathy and condolences to “Pollack’s” family. I was fortunate to get to know him through his volunteer work with the VNA. He touched so many lives in a caring and positive way. A rare soul. A genuinely good man. A light has left this world.

  • Roger Head Posted May 23, 2017 10:54 pm

    My long time freind you will be missed

  • Jo Lynn Posted May 24, 2017 10:12 am

    My condolences to Lawrence’s family, friends and the entire community who loved him. He was a good friend to my mom and was always so welcoming to me. He will be truly missed.

  • gregory Posted August 5, 2020 6:50 pm

    Mr Pollack was my mentor from 2nd grade up to after high school. He picked me up every Saturday morning and took me to breakfast, zoo, sailing, we watched football, we built plane models, i miss him so much and wish i knew of his passing. He was a great man! I still have the sweater he made with a picture of me holding his dog honey. The greatest human being to walk this earth.

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