Pollard had a strong track record of learning about key pieces of the institution’s history and, in many cases, tracking down artifacts, including the large stained-glass window commemorating Mary Julia Baldwin’s achievements now prominently displayed in the Grafton Library.
He found the window in a coal bin in the basement of old Bailey Hall, which was demolished in 2001 to make way for the Program for the Exceptionally Gifted Center.
When Pollard became MBU’s archivist, he told MBU news that “literally, things were in attics and closets around campus.” Among his other discoveries are a painting of Baldwin’s dog Beauty, used as a prop in a theatrical production, and a Mary Baldwin apple crate, left over from the days when the school owned an orchard that inspired Apple Day. He spotted the crate at a nearby apple farm. “I knew what it was,” he said. “I had seen the photograph.”
In his most recent role, Pollard fielded all manner of questions from faculty, staff, and alumni, including genealogical work on behalf of the grandchildren and great-grandchildren of students long ago. He previously shared an office with Patricia H. Menk, the late professor emerita of history and author of To Live in Time: The Sesquicentennial History of Mary Baldwin College. Pollard assisted in the writing of that history as well.
Originally from Farmville, North Carolina, Pollard earned an undergraduate degree in comparative literature from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a master’s degree in library science from Florida State University. Before becoming head librarian at Mary Baldwin in 1977, he held similar positions at the College of William and Mary and at what was then its Norfolk branch, now Old Dominion University. Earlier in his career, he was acquisitions librarian at the University of Georgia.
He is survived by his wife, Elizabeth Hatch “Betsy” Pollard, with whom he lived just a short walk from campus. He is also survived by their three daughters and their husbands, seven grandchildren, and nine great-grandchildren. His daughter, Elizabeth Pollard Hemeter, is a member of the Mary Baldwin Class of 1973.
“He was thoughtful, a gracious host, and a kind man. He and Betsy were a perfect match,” said Lew Askegaard, retired dean of institutional research. Askegaard, along with his wife, Bev, knew Pollard for 35 years and shared their love of dachshunds. “I often came to him for help running down landmarks in Baldwin’s long history. Alumni and faculty would raise arcane questions about great-great-aunts or the impact of the panic of 1893 on enrollment. I loved to go to Bill with these. He was always interested, an eager explorer. He was equally at home when the issue was the history of an old house off the road in Dooms or a little spring … Bill was generous, curious, and a quiet gift to this great college and community.”
Professor of Philosophy Roderic Owen recalls wandering by Pollard’s office on the second floor of Grafton, and always finding a helpful colleague who personified grace and gentility.
“He was always gracious and generous in talking about Mary Baldwin, the resources of Grafton Library, and our shared College of William and Mary connection,” Owen said. “Indeed, I know that Bill was instrumental in helping Dr. Pat Menk research and write the up-to-date version of MBU’s history, and she gave him the full credit that he deserved.”