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'It's been a long run' - Long-time Lansford dentist is honored

  • Dr. Thomas Pollock arrives at Cabrera's Pizzeria and Restaurant, Lansford, with his family.
    Dr. Thomas Pollock arrives at Cabrera's Pizzeria and Restaurant, Lansford, with his family.
Published June 02. 2012 09:01AM

It was June of 1966.

Lyndon B. Johnson was in the second year of his presidency, the Mamas & the Papas had just won a gold record for their hit song, Monday, Monday, and teenage girls were swooning over the dark protagonist of a new gothic soap opera called Dark Shadows.

Dr. Thomas Pollock, fresh from a residency at Abington Hospital, Philadelphia, opened his dental practice at his father's office in the heart of Lansford's downtown shopping district. At the time, people paid $5 each for dental exam, x-rays and cleaning.

Known for his kind manner and good humor, Pollock built his practice and invested in his community, becoming active in the local chapter of the Masonic Lodge, the Jaycees and the Lions Club, and Lansford Alive!

On May 24, his community gave back, honoring him for his years of service at a surprise retirement party thrown by Lansford Alive! at Cabrera's Restaurant.

Dr. Pollock arrived at Cabrera's with his wife Nancy, daughter Kimara, son Thomas Jr. and grandchildren, expecting to enjoy a slice with his family after popping in to say a quiet farewell to Lansford Alive! members, who meet at the restaurant.

Instead, he was greeted with applause and cheers, resolutions and accolades. He accepted them with modesty, coming close to tears at some points.

As people spoke of his life, Pollock sat at a table with friends, his grandchildren - Lily, 10, Maya, 7, Tommy, 7, Owen, 5, and Zoe, 2 - frequently wandering over to sit on his lap.

"It's been a long run - 46 years," he said, hesitating as he was overcome with emotion. "I enjoyed every minute of it. It's been a privilege to be a dentist in Lansford, and the surrounding areas. It's the families of Panther Valley that made for a very successful practice, whether medicine or dentistry. It's because of those people that I stayed for 46 years."

Asked about his retirement plans, Pollock said "I have five grandkids. I think my retirement is planned for me."

His father, Dr. Thomas Pollock, had gone into practice with another dentist, Dr. W.C. Scott, at 125 W. Ridge St., Lansford, in 1931 before opening a solo practice in Summit Hill. He then moved the practice to 11 E. Ridge St. in the 1940s.

Lansford has had "75 years of Pollock dentistry, and it's been the people who made the practice - and the reason to stay," Pollock said, again overcome by emotion.

He spoke of Lansford's past, and its future promise.

"When I came back, there was a generation here that came here originally as miners. My grandfather was a miner," he said.

He recalls hearing stories of how those past generations "got through what they went through."

Pollock said Lansford is a good example of how diverse a community becomes. First it was all the English and the Welsh. Then the middle Europeans came in. Then the Italians came, then the Irish came. Then the Polish and Slovaks came.

"You could see, if you were born here, how all those people started to come through the levels, from doctors to lawyers to shop keepers. It was something to watch," he said.

He acknowledges there was prejudice - not racial but religious prejudice.

He also recalls people bemoaning the changes.

They would complain, 'Oh, the town wasn't what it used to be, and 'how it was when we were young'.

"Things have gotten a lot better in the Panther Valley than it was years ago," he said.

Pollock praised Lansford Alive! for its efforts to revitalize the town.

"People who come into this valley may again rise to make the valley better," he said. "I think you should give everybody a chance. Things get better, it seems, every time."

Lansford Alive! president Chris Ondrus said he'd been a patient of Pollock's since his baby teeth developed.

"He could have left and gone somewhere else, but he continued on in his father's footsteps, and kept the practice going," he said.

Borough council president Rose Mary Cannon lauded Pollock's presence in the community.

"I wish you the best wishes for your retirement. I hate to see you go. I hate to see another building] being empty in our down town," she said.

Cannon presented Pollock with a proclamation from council.

Lansford Alive! presented him with its Black Diamond Community Improvement Award, and organization officer Mark Sverchek presented a state Senate resolution on behalf of Sen. John Yudichak, who was unable to attend.

State Rep. Doyle Heffley gave him a citation from the state House of representatives.

"It's wonderful what you've done for the community," he said.

The Carbon County Commissioners earlier that day adopted a resolution honoring Pollock.

Pollock, of Mahoning Township, is the son of the late Thomas and Gertrude Pollock. After being raised in Lansford and graduating from Lansford High school in 1955, he attended the University of Scranton and the University of Temple School of Dentistry, graduating in 1965. Pollock did his dental residency at Abington Hospital from 1965 to 1966.

He is a past president of the Panther Valley Dental Society and Third District Dental Society, and a member of the American Dental Association and the Pierre Fauchard Academy, which is an international dental honor society.

He married Nancy in 1965. Pollock has a son, Sean, and a daughter, Megan Andersen, with his first wife Renai. He and Nancy have a son, Thomas, who is married to Jessica. The couple, who live in Sugarloaf, have three children, Tommy, Owen and Zoe.

The Pollocks also have a daughter, Kimara Hutton, who is married to David Hutton. They live in Mahoning Township and are the parents of Lily and Maya.

Pollock has a sister, Judy, who lives in Arizona with her husband Eugene and their children, Jane and EJ. He also has a brother, the late Lee Pollock.

With his retirement, Pollock will now have time to indulge his pastimes of hunting, fishing and woodworking.

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