Al Pollard, a legend in the advertising industry and a leader in the economic growth of Arkansas, died September 27, 2001, at his home. Considered one of the state's most dynamic business leaders, he was a true Renaissance man - a successful businessman, civic leader, writer, and historical figure. One of his passions in life was to make Arkansas a more attractive to live and visit.
As chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the Brooks-Pollard Company, one of the state's leading advertising agencies, he built a firm that represented some of America's best-known blue chip companies nationwide. For over 37 years, he wrote a weekly column LIFE TODAY for the Arkansas Democrat filled with sage advice and counsel for its readers, lauded by such as Norman Vincent Peale.
He was born December 9, 1912, in Little Rock, Arkansas, the son of Albert and Mary Pollard. After attending Little Rock public schools, he graduated from Little Rock Junior College in 1932 with the conviction that he wanted to be an architect, taking a job with Wittenberg and Delony. But in 1937 he went to work in the advertising department of the Arkansas Democrat and soon began his newspaper column.
In 1942 he joined the Robert H. Brooks Company, an agency founded in 1915, and the name was changed to become the nationally known Brooks-Pollard Company. Al Pollard was a national advertising and marketing pioneer in the frozen food, retail grocery, lumber and parquet flooring, tourism, state industrial development and frozen yogurt industries.
He was the recipient of the following industry awards: the Advertising Federation's Silver Medal, the Sales and Marketing Executives Association's Top Manager of the Year, the Public Relations Society's Silver Anvil and IABC Communicator of the Year. He also received the Ad Federation's Half-Century Award and was named a Life Member of the Sales and Marketing Executives.
He was one of the early promoters of the state's economic development. Professionally, he directed the first promotional effort of the Arkansas Industrial Development Commission to national execs and returned years later to serve in this capacity again. This was one of the first of its kind in America. As President of the Little Rock Sales & Marketing Executives, he was the creator of a concerted effort to bring top state execs into the college classrooms, urging young people to stay in the state. He organized the first Distinguished Sales Award program for top salesman in the state.
He was quite a historical figure. He wrote the first state Planning Overview on Arkansas in 1935 and later developed the Master Plan for public relations to make the Arkansas River navigable in 1942.Fiercely independent, he wrote campaign material for Governor Carl Bailey and was deeply involved in diverse campaigns for Wilber Mills, John McClelland and Winthrop Rockefeller. He helped create the Children's Colony in Conway as President of the Pulaski County Cerebral Palsy Association.
He pioneered and organized support for the Blanchard Springs Caverns and the Ozark Folk Center in Mountain View. For his work in tourism and helping create the Great Arkansas Clean up, he was selected a member of the Arkansas Tourism Hall of Fame.
As a civic leader, he served as President of the Little Rock Chamber of Commerce, the Arkansas State Mental Association and the UALR Alumni Association. He served as Chairman of the Little Rock branch of the Federal Reserve Board, Comprehensive Health Planning Program, and the Arkansas State Council on Economic Education. He also served on the Boards of the Arkansas State Chamber, the Arkansas State Hospital and the Arkansas Children's Hospital. He was a founding member of Fifty for the Future and helped organize the Top of the Rock Club.
As one of the founders and President of Keep Arkansas Beautiful, he received the Presidential Commendations and awards from President Nixon and Reagan. Last year he was given a Lifetime Achievement award from KAB. He was awarded an honorary doctorate degree from UALR, chosen the Outstanding UALR Alumnus and was the Arkansas Democrats' 1967 Man of the Year. He was selected Boss of the year by the Little Rock Jaycees and was listed in Outstanding Americans in the South, Outstanding Arkansans, Who's Who in the Southwest and Who's Who in Public Relations.
Al Pollard was a man of conviction. In 1959, he handled the promotional efforts for the successful STOP campaign in the Little Rock School Board elections. In 1970, he handled the successful Mixed Drink campaign for Pulaski County. He worked closely with the Kroger Company for years in creating a Buy Arkansas Products program to support the state's farmers.
He was a strong supporter of higher education, developing programs for institutions such as Hendrix College, Arkansas Tech, Ouachita Baptist University, and the University of Arkansas.
In 1971, he founded the Arkansas Exporters Roundtable, serving as President from 1971-1984. His efforts helped develop statewide success in the exporting of Arkansas goods abroad. He also served as executive director of the American Parquet Flooring Association and the Arkansas Soft Pine Bureau.
In 1986, he was one of only four citizens to receive a Certificate of Appreciation from the U.S. Department of Commerce for 25 years of active service promoting exporting.
He was the President and co-founder of the ESP Research Associates Foundation, a nationally leading foundation in the scientific analysis of Psychic Phenomena. He co-authored the book Extra Success Potential, sold throughout America and Japan. He developed a business and personal philosophy call SI-Self Interest Dynamics that was used as a college textbook for effectively dealing with people. His "Think Tanks" and executive seminars attracted leaders throughout the Central South.
Al Pollard is best remembered for his generous spirit and warm and ready smile. He always gave credit to others for civic and professional achievement and provided encouragement to many of today's advertising agency leaders as they began their careers. He gave freely of his time and energy for most of the community's important projects. He gladly counseled new college graduates with career guidance. "I have a basic belief," he said, "that man has an obligation to leave the earth in a little better shape than he found it."
Arkansas' economic development. Advertising. Health Services. Education. Industrial development. The Political arena. Al Pollard's stamp is on each of these areas.
In October 1986, he suffered a disabling stroke and spent his remaining years at his home surrounded by family, friends and loving caregivers James Hoyle, Worthy and Jon Dodson.
He was preceded in death by his wife Nancy Hart Pollard and his son, Sid. He is survived by a son, Hugh Hart (Amy), two daughters, Nancy Blackstone (Jack) and Alice Ahart (Larry) and two granddaughters Julie and Elizabeth Foote. The family will receive friends at Ruebel Funeral Home, Tuesday evening, October 2nd from 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. Funeral services will be at 11:00 a.m., Friday, October 5th, at Pinecrest Cemetery. Memorials may be made to any Arkansas charity.
Arrangements are under the direction of Ruebel Funeral Home.