Grace Milliman Pollock passed away on 15 February 2013 in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, at the age of 94. Her generosity to the University of Washington is long-standing: As early as 1973, she started establishing endowments in the English and Mathematics Departments to honor both her father, Loren, who was a professor of English at UW, and her brother, Wendell, a famous mathematician. The four endowments have earned the University over $2 million for support that has been instrumental in the recruitment and retention of distinguished faculty.
I have known Grace for eight years. We met during one of her visits to campus, and I then travelled to Pennsylvania to see her at least twice a year and talked with her frequently by phone. To all who met her, she became immediately special. For me, she became a friend.
Every time I was with Grace, I had fun. Charles Johnson, Professor Emeritus of English, once described Grace as luminous. She always had an active mind and, over the years, she often took a square look at my life and made many insightful comments. Mostly, she and l laughed a lot, ate good food together, and tried valiantly to solve the problems of the world. We always hugged goodbye until the next visit. It is very hard to imagine not talking with her, not driving to Harrisburg to see her, not putting a chocolate morsel in letters to her describing Seattle, its weather, our wonderful University, my family, and my adventures.
Recently, I travelled to Harrisburg to attend Grace’s funeral. The room was filled with people who loved her. Her three granddaughters honored her with a touching eulogy, and her neighbor made us laugh and cry with some of his stories about Grace. Every person that Grace came in contact with was treated with respect and approached with sincere curiosity. The world was drawn to her dignity, her intelligence, and her humor. Her legacy is clearly articulated both here and in Camp Hill, Pennsylvania, for her consistent philanthropic efforts, but the memory of her presence and her spirit will be the gifts I will always hold dear.