Tribute to Abe Pollin, Washington’s Philanthropist (1923-2009)

Tribute to Abe Pollin, Washington’s Philanthropist (1923-2009)

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abe-pollin-street-sign.jpgAbe Pollin, philanthropist, developer, and the face of Washington D.C. sports, as the longest-tenured owner of any NBA team, has died at the age of 85.

“He arrived in Washington, D.C. more than 75 years ago, with his poor Russian father, speaking no English. Through decades of hard work and a seemingly unstoppable will, Abe Pollin rose to the top of the worlds of business, philanthropy and professional sports. In the process, he transformed his adopted home town by bringing professional basketball and hockey franchises here and spending $220 million to build a massive sports and entertainment arena that has dramatically improved the face of downtown Washington.” – from Washington Post’s Marc Fisher.

Mayor Fenty said in a statement, “Today the District of Columbia has lost one of our greatest treasures. Abe Pollin almost single-handedly revitalized the Gallery Place / Chinatown neighborhood by turning down offers from suburban jurisdictions and finance and build the Verizon Center on 7th Street NW.”

The City Paper wrote that Pollin built the then-MCI Center, “out of his own pocket while the city suffered from crippling financial woes,” and noted that it went on to anchor the rebirth of downtown Washington.

Abe Pollin truly adopted Washington as his hometown, having lived in the area since the age of eight. For more than 40 years he was the owner of the Washington Wizards; and was the original owner of the National Hockey League’s Washington Capitals and the Women’s National Basketball Association’s Washington Mystics. But, he also adopted an entire elementary school class, promising to pay for a college education for each one who finished high school. (See story below)

Stories to read from Washington’s City Paper
Abe Pollin Dies (Full obituary)
One of Abe Pollin’s ‘Adopted’ Kids Looks Back on His Philanthropy