You saw him for years at Fones Road and Pacific Avenue in Olympia. He died in December

·3 min read

Aaron Pollack, who stood for years at the corner of Fones Road and Pacific Avenue in Olympia and endeared himself to the community with his smile and wave, died Dec. 7, according to the Thurston County Coroner’s Office. He was 56.

Pollack was found dead in his RV off Wiggins Road, Coroner Gary Warnock said. A cause of death is still pending, he said.

Pollack was adamant about not being homeless, but he was still in need of assistance, which finally led him to panhandle for money on the street corner in Olympia.

“I hated it,” said Pollack, who was interviewed by former Thurston County Commissioner John Hutchings in 2018 for a program called Thurston County Connection.

“I cried every day,” he told Hutchings about his decision to ask for money. “I never saw myself myself doing this before. I never thought I would have to.”

Hutchings said last week that he noticed about mid-December that he hadn’t seen Pollack on that corner recently.

“We’re just heartbroken,” said Hutchings about he and his wife’s reaction to the news. “We came to know him, liked him and supported him. He was always optimistic and that’s why he stood out to me.”

Efforts to reach Pollack’s mother through the coroner’s office were unsuccessful.

After seeing Pollack on that corner so many times, Hutchings decided he wanted to know more about the man so he interviewed him.

Hutchings asked Pollack about his health, the state of his finances, and the experience, both good and bad, of standing on that corner.

Pollack said he suffered from epilepsy, swelling in his legs and sleep apnea, and that he was behind on his medical bills. He received disability payments, he said, but it was not enough to rely on, so he cast off his humility and began to ask for money.

Two or three times a day people would extend their middle fingers at him, and he would get yelled at four or five times a week, he said.

There also were those who accused him of living a lavish lifestyle. One driver, he recalled, rolled down his window and accused Pollack of living in a big beautiful house and owning a nice car.

“They will yell something and leave so that they would have the last word,” Pollack said.

But he also had his supporters. There were those who gave him a coat or gloves, and Hutchings helped him over the years with money, food and hand-warmers. He once bought him a Starbucks gift card and left it at the nearby Albertson’s so Pollack could go in and use it.

“We will put it here with the others,” the employee replied.

Some area residents who learned about Pollack’s death have reached out to The Olympian.

“Seeing him every day would make me smile and made me happy,” Rachel May said in her email. “I bought him food once but wasn’t able to sit and share a meal. After moving to Lacey, my fiancé and I would always say when we have money let’s go sit and eat with him. We were never able to, though. It makes me so sad that he is gone.”

In the wake of Aaron Pollack’s death, a memorial has been created for him at the corner of Fones Road and Pacific Avenue in Olympia.
In the wake of Aaron Pollack’s death, a memorial has been created for him at the corner of Fones Road and Pacific Avenue in Olympia.