WASHINGTON, DC – House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer (MD) honored the life of Abe Pollin today in a statement on the House Floor. Below are his remarks as prepared for delivery:
“Our capital city is mourning the death of one of its leading citizens, a man I was proud to call my friend: Abe Pollin. Our thoughts and sympathy are with his wife, Irene, and his sons, Robert and Jim.
“Abe Pollin’s business skill, his philanthropy, and his civic spirit changed Washington, D.C., for the better—and indeed, his legacy extends far beyond this city. It is a legacy that will long outlive Abe Pollin himself; but I rise today to honor the man behind it.
“Abe was the son of a Russian immigrant who came to this country speaking no English—and he rose to become one of this city’s most successful developers. He was a boy whose fondest memories were of paying 25 cents to sit in the bleachers at Washington Senators games—and even when he had brought basketball and hockey teams to Washington, he kept his childhood passion for sports. The same work ethic that sent him to local railroad yards at four in the morning to buy supplies for his father’s contracting business helped Abe make a fortune, building housing for thousands.
“For some, that would have been enough—but for Abe, it was only the beginning. Like his father Morris, whose generosity earned him the nickname ‘Charity’ in the Washington Jewish community, Abe Pollin has a proud place in the great American and Jewish traditions of philanthropy. There are thousands of thousands who owe him thanks, whether or not they knew him first-hand. They are sons and daughters of 9/11 victims whose educations Abe helped pay for, D.C. families who live in affordable housing that Abe built, and malnourished children who benefit from the oral rehydration research that Abe helped fund—and many, many more.
“And though he is gone, this city is more vibrant for Abe Pollin’s work, from the 6th and I Historic Synagogue that he helped save, to the downtown that he did so much to revitalize. Speaking in 1997 of the arena that was the centerpiece of Washington’s downtown rebirth, Abe said: ‘I walk through that building and I get tears in my eyes. I’ve got everything I’ve ever done in my life on the line….My advisers think I’m nuts. But I wanted to do something special for my town.’
“That decades-long commitment to his community defined Abe Pollin—and this community’s life is richer because he lived.”