Dr. Charles Pollack. Courtesy: Family of Charles Pollack

Dr. Charles Hillel Pollack, longtime resident of Berkeley, passed away at Stanford Medical Center on Feb. 5, 2023.

Charlie was born in the Bronx to Samuel and Esther Pollack. He lived in the Bronx until his 10th birthday, when the family, which now included his younger brother David, moved to Van Nuys, California, so Sam could open his own pharmacy. At Van Nuys High School, Charlie lettered as a member of the varsity tennis team.

Charlie began his college career at Reed College in Portland, Oregon, but after two years decided to concentrate on a pre-med curriculum and transferred to the UC Berkeley where he attained his bachelor’s degree in political science. Thereafter, he began his medical training at the University of California, San Francisco. He decided to become a psychiatrist, and had his residency at Langley Porter, UCSF.

Upon completing his medical training, he took his first position with Contra Costa County and worked at the facility in Pittsburg as a staff psychiatrist. After a number of years in that position, he became the Mental Health Director of Contra Costa County. During this same period, Charlie co-founded the Berkeley Therapy Institute, a nonprofit mental health clinic, with a group of fellow mental health professionals that included psychiatrists, psychologists, and MFTs.

Charlie retired from seeing patients in 2008 but continued to be very involved with BTI as a founder and active member of their board of directors until his death.

Charlie was a lifelong learner with an avid interest in historical biographies, keen intellect, plus a fantastic memory for events, statistics, and trivia.

He was also a massive San Francisco sports fan, especially the 49ers during the ’80s and ’90s championship eras. He would record games and rewatch them enough times that he could even call plays.

He also loved to travel and was an expert landscape photographer, hiking into Zion National Park at dawn for the best light.

Charlie was an enthusiastic member of the UC Alumni Chorus for many years. On chorus trips to Mexico, Eastern Europe, Norway, South Africa, Cuba, and New Zealand he reveled in singing in grand cathedrals as well as in capturing vivid photographs of the people and scenery.

Charlie was an extremely generous person, not only to his family but towards his community and causes which were important to him, including local and national political issues.

He was a longtime caregiver and advocate for people with disabilities and executive director of Maya’s Music Therapy Fund (MMTF) for 10 years, a local non-profit founded by his wife in honor of her late daughter, Maya. MMTF provides music therapy services to people with developmental, physical, and cognitive disabilities.

His generosity was a part of his personality, readily providing his time, advice, and guidance to those who came to him.

Charlie is survived by his wife, Joanna A. Cooper. M.D.; brother David Pollack (Betty Pollack); four children, Stephen Pollack (Michael Ehrenberg), Jason Pollack (Karen Sibony), Naomi Pollack (Hal Brandel) and Dina Pollack (Michael Stearns); and two grandchildren, Simone Pollack and Isaac (Izzy) Pollack.

If you would like to make a donation in Charlie’s name, you may send a check to Maya’s Music Therapy Fund at P.O. Box 7110, Berkeley, CA 94707 or donate online on the organization’s website.