Remembering Alexander Pollatsek

Alexander PollatsekAlexander Pollatsek passed away peacefully at the Fisher Home on February 11, 2022.

Born on January 26, 1941 in New York City, Sandy attended the Bronx High School of Science and then the University of Michigan, graduating in 1961. After earning a master's degree in chemistry at Harvard University, he returned to Michigan in 1963 to enter the doctoral program in mathematical psychology and---happily, as it turned out---meet Harriet. They were married in 1964. In Ann Arbor he worked against the war in Vietnam, including as one of the organizers of the first teach-in in 1965.

In 1969 he joined the Department of Psychology at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst, where his career flourished among congenial and stimulating colleagues and students. He also enjoyed three sabbatical visits to the University of Oregon and three to England (the University of Cambridge, the University of Sussex and the University of Southampton).

Sandy was proud of his mathematical research and was always deeply interested in the teaching and learning of statistics. But while modeling remained an aspect of his work, his research shifted to experimental psychology, where his main project was using eye movements to study skilled reading. Another important interest was using eye movements to study driving. He always enjoyed the stimulation and synergy of working with collaborators---too many to name here. Sandy remained active in research even after strokes in 2016 and 2018, co-authoring two papers on reading as recently as 2020.

Music was another passion. As an undergraduate, Sandy studied composition at the University of Michigan and with Nadia Boulanger in Fontainebleau, France. He played piano, although never up to his own standards. He also played recorders with a group that met regularly for their own enjoyment and even had a few paid gigs. He and Harriet frequently attended area classical concerts. Sandy was a fully engaged, loving and proud parent of Shura and David. He was the family's principal and best cook. Other interests included hiking, visiting museums to see the work of great artists (especially van Gogh), watching basketball (especially LeBron James), and traveling.

Besides his wife Harriet (Katcher) Pollatsek and daughter Shura Pollatsek (Mitchell Wilson), Sandy leaves his cousin and honorary sister Martha Pollatsek (Charles Garrett), and Harriet's sisters Lynne Buck Jacobs (Walter) and Deborah Kramer (Ronald). He was pre-deceased by his son David Pollatsek (Mary Heffelbower), his brother-in-law Raymond Buck, and his parents Frank and Toini (Wiren) Pollatsek.

Family and friends will miss his broad smile, intelligence, passion for justice, wide-ranging curiosity, enthusiasm, generosity, and whole-hearted love. We thank the staff of the Hospice of the Fisher Home for their caring and support, at our own home and at theirs.

Published by Daily Hampshire Gazette on Feb. 16, 2022.