Gail Pollak

August 12, 1940 ~ August 26, 2022 (age 82)


Gail Brown Pollak passed away unexpectedly on August 26. Born to Alvine and Charles Brown in Verona, NJ, she moved around frequently with her family, residing in several towns mostly in northern NY and NJ and graduating from Nutley High School. She married her husband, Kurt Pollak, in 1961, where they lived in Boston before moving to Westfield, NJ to raise their two daughters, Diane Sutterlin (of Scotch Plains) and Stephanie Pollak (of Cranford). Gail finished her education by going to school at night and graduated with a BA in English and a MA in counseling from Kean University. She and Kurt moved to Scotch Plains in 2012. The oldest of seven, Gail was a natural caretaker. She helped raise her younger siblings and eventually became a teacher. She taught basic skills at several schools in Union County, NJ, ending her career at Roselle Catholic high school, where she retired in 2008. Gail was a jack-of-all-trades and knew how to reach struggling students in all subjects, especially teaching how to write a fabulous thesis statement. Hundreds of students were helped and inspired by Gail and would frequently come hang out in her room because it was a safe space and she always had the good snacks. Gail was extremely active in the First Unitarian Church of Plainfield and wore many hats, from newsletter editor to Sunday School teacher for her grandchildren’s classes to co-founder of the Act Five theater group. She loved working with the theater group in several capacities, especially stage manager and organizer of the receptions following each performance. Gail knew how to throw a party. She was also involved in the church food pantry and organized numerous receptions for major events or celebrations. Gail was a mother, grandmother, sister, wife and inspiration to all who knew her. She loved reading fiction and poetry, watching British mysteries, spending time with family, and her beautiful log cabin in the Catskills, where she would frequently spend time with Kurt or her close friends. She was happily married to Kurt for over 50 years until his death in 2016. Gail is survived by her two daughters and their husbands, Mike Sutterlin and Ken Beck, three grandchildren, Jake, Maya and Sam, and two brothers, Kevin of Colorado and Michael of Georgia. The family will plan a celebration of life for some time in the near future.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Food Pantry at the First Unitarian Society of Plainfield (2560 US Highway 22, #324, Scotch Plains, NJ 07076) or to the ACLU.

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