Poll, Stanford: A Remembrance by Walt Crowley

  • By Walt Crowley
  • Posted 2/03/2000
  • HistoryLink.org Essay 2113

Doting husband and father, generous benefactor of many community charities, astute but scrupulously honest businessman, loyal almost to a fault, keenly alert to life's ironies and absurdities, and always ready with a rumbling, disarming laugh -- this is how his family and hundreds of friends remember Stanford Poll (1940-2000), who perished in the crash of Alaska Airlines flight 261 on January 31, 2000.

Stanford Poll was born on September 25, 1940, in Seattle. He was the youngest of four boys, David, presently of Vancouver B.C and Sun Valley, Idaho, Harry, presently of Edmonds, Washington, and the late Bernard "Bobby" Polishuk, who adopted the family's original Russian name.

After graduation from Franklin High School, Stanford went to work for his father, who operated a tavern in North Seattle. Over time, Stanford established a string of successful businesses and managed a growing portfolio of real estate.

With his brother Harry, Stanford helped to launch the revitalization of Pioneer Square in the early 1970s by restoring the historic J&M Cafe at the corner of First Avenue S and S Washington Street. Public affairs consultant and former Seattle budget Director Don Stark remembers meeting Stan at the J&M nearly 30 years ago.

"He would hold court at a big table in the back corner. There was a phone in a little red cabinet that was always ringing. Stan would take calls and answer "yes" or "no" and sometimes just laugh. Meanwhile, 20 people would be sitting around talking and doing business. It was an amazing scene."

Bob Gogerty, Don Stark's partner and former Seattle Deputy Mayor, also met Stan in Pioneer Square, while touring the area with Mayor Wes Uhlman in 1971. "He came running out and started telling us how great the neighborhood could be." Stan became a generous supporter of Uhlman and other Democratic candidates and causes, and he and Bob Gogerty developed a deep and life-long friendship.

"His number one goal seemed to be making sure my head didn't get too big," Gogerty recalls. Stan would tweak Gogerty and Stark by wearing a jacket embroidered with the word "Consultant" during numerous fishing expeditions in Alaska, which were among his favorite pastimes.

"Stan was a big man with a big heart, and he lived his life large," Gogerty says. "He was a Damon Runyon-kind of character, a risk-taker who didn't follow conventional wisdom. He always questioned authority. I think he was a libertarian at heart."

Stan Poll also met his future wife, Gabriel, at the J&M. They wed in 1975, and raised two daughters, Shaina and Sasha, both of whom are presently attending college. The family later moved to Mercer Island and became benefactors of numerous public service and Jewish community agencies, including Chabad House, Childhaven, and the City of Hope.

Stanford was a long-time landlord of the University District's famous Blue Moon Tavern. When new property owners threatened to demolish the tavern in 1989, Stan testified for official landmark protection to save it. Blue Moon manager Gus Hellthaler remembers Stan "as a very, very good friend of the Moon."

Longtime friend and legal advisor Carroll Schueler recalls that "Stan’s word was his bond. Throughout 40 years I never saw him deviate from a promise. He was a marvelous parent and family man, and a loyal friend."

Bob Gogerty adds, "And when you became Stan's friend, you were his friend forever."

Stanford is survived by his beloved wife Gabriel, Shaina and Sasha, two sons by a previous marriage, Jason and Joe, brothers David and Harry, a large loving extended family, and many beloved friends.


Walt Crowley

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