The Photo Request has been fulfilled.

 Helen <I>Pollack</I> Adler

Photo added by Edmund

Helen Pollack Adler

  • Birth 22 Jan 1918
  • Death 1 Aug 2006
  • Burial Unknown
  • Memorial ID 15141001

Helen P. Adler, teacher and visionary community leader died on August 1, after fiercely battling cancer for a year. Helen Pollack was born in Rankin, Pa., on January 22, 1918, the daughter of Hungarian immigrants who raised three children upstairs from the family grocery store. She attended Braddock High School, graduating at the top of her class, and winning every available honor. She believed that her father gave her the greatest gift he could, his permission to go to college. She worked through depth of the Depression earning both a bachelor's in English and history and a M.S. in library science from Carnegie Mellon University (then Carnegie Institute of Technology). In 1940, she married Frederic Adler, the top scholar in the class ahead of her at Braddock High and Carnegie Tech. Their first child was born in 1944, just before Fred was drafted into the U.S. Army to serve in the Pacific. After the war, they lived a few years of the post-war American dream, with Fred working at Westinghouse in Pittsburgh, and Helen doing part-time library work. Then a shared passion for justice and freedom expressed during Spanish Civil War protests came back to haunt them in the McCarthy years. When Fred refused to sign a loyalty oath which would have meant possibly exposing friends to FBI investigations, Fred forfeited his job and was blacklisted. Seeking work, Helen and Fred moved to Delmar, N.Y. in 1956. Fred joined Delmar-based Hall & Co. as a general manager and Helen taught library science at Albany Teachers College, before making the transition to teaching English at Bethlehem Central High School. She was hired to develop the Advanced Placement (AP) English course. Through her passionate love of literature, good writing and belief in her students' potential, she influenced more than 1,000 students during her 25-year teaching career. Helen's refusal to accept anything but the best from her students earned her their undying respect. Her goal was to create life-long learners. In addition to creating the AP English course, Helen developed other courses including The Novel, and multi-disciplinary courses in conjunction with social studies and science colleagues. She founded The Creative Writing Club and its publication, The Thinking Reed. She scooped and served at the ice cream socials and spaghetti dinners that raised funds for the publication. Students were regular visitors to her home, showering her with letters long after graduation. From the top colleges in the country and beyond, they wrote to declare, You were the most important teacher I ever had. Demonstrating her passion for learning, Helen enrolled in continuing education programs throughout her career, notably in highly selective humanities programs at Yale University, Williams College and Wesleyan University. In recognition of her ability to objectively evaluate students' writing and her experience with the AP English curriculum, she was twice selected to grade AP English achievement tests for the Educational Testing Service. Helen was a working mother when those were rare, finding the time to write long letters and to send hand-made posters to her three daughters to ease the miles of separation when they were in college, on top of her 16-hour teaching days. She retired from BCHS in 1983 after a 24-year career. In retirement, Helen and Fred traveled to Europe and created a retreat in Schoharie County where they gardened, read and wrote. When their eldest daughter, Vicki was diagnosed with MS in 1977, Helen and Fred devoted themselves to her care. Retirement was temporary, however. Helen began her free Books in the Morning lecture series in Delmar shortly after leaving BCHS, but felt that the adults in the community would support weekday college-level courses taught in Delmar. She and Fred founded and guided the Humanities Institute for Lifelong Learning (HILL), pouring their energies into recruiting the best teachers from area colleges and universities. Helen and Fred also secured venues, arranged chairs, took the roll-anything that needed to be done to bring continuing education to the community. After 13 years, HILL now attracts 1,000 enthusiastic participants annually, offers free lectures and concerts between semesters, and affords its faculty the luxury of mature and interested students who are motivated to learn. HILL was innovative, a concept on the leading edge of what has become an enormous industry. HILL and its founders were recognized by the New York State Chamber of Commerce for enriching the lives of Bethlehem's residents. HILL reflects a lifelong passion for learning that defined Helen. In fulfilling her personal mission, she left a legacy to the Town of Bethlehem that will be treasured for decades. Helen was a missionary for learning, in all its forms, to the last moment of her life. She believed that learning is the key to a full life. She epitomized the vision of immigrants like her parents who came to the United States at the turn of the 20th century to give their children a life they could not have had in their native countries. Helen was predeceased by her daughter Vicki in 2000 and husband in 2004. She is survived by daughters, Deborah of Delmar and Rachel Hayes of Arlington, Mass.; her grandchildren, Alexandra and Amelia Cole and Spencer Hayes, will also miss her greatly. A memorial service is planned at Temple Beth Emeth in Albany. The date will be announced later in the Times Union. In lieu of flowers, Helen requested contributions in her name to the Bethlehem Humanities Institute for Lifelong Learning (HILL), c/o the Bethlehem Central School District, Business Office, 90 Adams Place, Delmar, NY 12054 or the American Civil Liberties Union, 90 State St., Albany, NY 12207.


See more Adler memorials in:

Advertisement

Advertisement

Advertisement

Advertisement

  • Created by: Edmund
  • Added: 3 Aug 2006
  • Find A Grave Memorial 15141001
  • Find A Grave, database and images (https://www.findagrave.com : accessed ), memorial page for Helen Pollack Adler (22 Jan 1918–1 Aug 2006), Find A Grave Memorial no. 15141001, ; Maintained by Edmund (contributor 46794113) Unknown.