In Memory of

Benjamin

Michael

Pollack

Obituary for Benjamin Michael Pollack

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Benjamin Michael Pollack was born on May 28, 1992 in San Diego, California and passed away unexpectedly of natural causes in his home near Denver, Colorado on December 14, 2023. He is survived by his parents, Janet & Larry; his sister, Rachel Poleke (Donald); and his grandparents, Judy Pollack, Bud & Jane Romberg as well as many cousins, aunts and uncles.

Ben grew up in Poway, CA. He displayed a strong musical talent from a young age and joined choirs & bands at his synagogue and schools growing up. He started a barbershop group at Poway High School in his junior year, sang with the award-winning Die Lieders ensemble and took part in the school's musicals. He was first chair in the Wind Symphony on euphonium, his chosen instrument. In addition to his sports and martial arts activities, Ben earned his Eagle Scout rank through much community service and various projects.

Ben earned a full out-of-state tuition scholarship to the University of Colorado, Boulder, where he received his Bachelor’s of Music Education degree and his teaching certificate. He played in the CU marching band and sang with the CU Buffoons, an a capella tradition at CU since 1962. After his graduation in 2014, Ben taught choir music at Carmel Middle School in Colorado Springs and the next year was hired by the Huerfano RE-1 School District to build up a music program in Walsenburg, CO. He started teaching K-12 music and then concentrated his efforts on Middle and High School band and High School Choir at John Mall High School. He was honored by the Colorado Music Education Association as their Outstanding Young Educator for 2019, a recognition he treasured. He stayed in Walsenburg until spring of 2021.

Of his time in Walsenburg, it was written, "We will always remember Mr. Pollack as the remarkable band teacher who brought new life to the JMHS band program.” The band showcased its skill and dedication through marching band contests, parades, and solo contests. He also served as a mentor to students in the choir, helping them to achieve great success in a variety of competitions. Ben worked diligently to expose the students with performance activities beyond Walsenburg in statewide performance events, like the district’s Spanish Peaks Jazz Band traveling and to Greeley for the UNC/Greeley Jazz Festival. He even put together a trip to San Diego to have wider performance experiences visit the San Diego Opera.

Ben spent the last two years in Bloomington, IN achieving his Master's degree in Music Education from the prestigious Jacobs School of Music at the University of Indiana, Bloomington. He was honored to study his euphonium and music education with Professor Demondrae Thurman. His practicum compared vocal & instrumental pedagogy with the intent of using both styles to raise stronger musicians. Professor Thurman said of Ben, "Ben was such a delightful student. He was an eager learner, and his optimism was contagious. Working with him was a highlight of every week. The discussions we'd have about music and teaching still live within me. I will miss him greatly.” While in Bloomington, he also directed the Sounds of Indiana barbershop chorus, which gave him an opportunity to keep up his conducting skills and pass on his passion to even more generations of musicians.

In July, 2023, he started a new job teaching instrumental music at Ponderosa High School in Parker, CO. He led his small, but mighty, squad to a third-place finish in their first tournament together this past fall. Ben's colleagues and students have been sharing his motto far and wide: “Teaching music is the most important thing I do. It has to matter every day.”

When not devoting himself to his students and his work, Ben enjoyed cracking jokes, drinking craft beer, and playing disc golf with his friends. He could often be found cheering on the Chargers, Padres, or Av’s (depending on the season) regardless of how well any of them did.

In his relatively short time, Ben touched the hearts and lives of everyone he met and his family has been inundated with notes and poetry praising his passion, creativity, and spirit. We love him dearly and he will be sorely missed.

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to your favorite fund at Temple Adat Shalom of Poway, CA www.adatshalom.com or to your favorite youth music program in his honor.