Michael Pollay

March 25, 1931 ~ February 10, 2021 (age 89)


Dr. Michael (“Mike”) Pollay, 89, died peacefully on Wednesday, February 10, 2021, at St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center, Phoenix, Arizona, following a long battle with respiratory illness. Mike was greatly loved and loved his wife, children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren. He was a firm believer in self-determination and the principle that each one of us is responsible for the course of his or her own life. Equally importantly, he was an encouraging and supportive paterfamilias who was respected and admired by his family.

Mike was born March 25, 1931 in Boston, Massachusetts. Early in his life, his family moved to Milwaukee, Wisconsin, where he graduated from high school in 1948. His long and distinguished academic career began at the University of Wisconsin in Madison, where he earned both his Bachelor of Medical Science (1951) and Medical Doctor (1955) degrees. After his rotating internship at the Highland-Alameda County Hospital in Oakland, California (1955-1956), he served as a Captain in the United States Air Force at the School of Aviation Medicine in Taipei, Taiwan (1956-1958.) He embarked on his formal surgical training at the University of Colorado in Aurora (from 1958 through 1963), where he ultimately became the chief resident in neurosurgery and earned a Master of Science degree. During this time span, he also served as a National Institutes of Health Special Fellow in the Department of Physiology at University College, London, England (1961-1962.) Mike joined the University of New Mexico School of Medicine in Albuquerque as an Instructor in 1963 and rose to Professor of Neurosurgery and Physiology in 1976. While on the faculty, he helped to develop the curriculum and training programs for the new medical school. In 1976, he joined the faculty of the University of Oklahoma College of Medicine as Professor and Chairman of Neurosurgery, a position which he held until 1994. Before retiring, he served as the Medical Director of the University-Presbyterian Neurological Institute, the Chief Executive Officer of the Professional Practice Plan, and Associate Dean for Clinical Practice. Following retirement, Mike served as medical director and consultant for Medtronic Neurological Technologies and was a member of the board of the Rudi Schulte Institute. In addition to his academic appointments, he served on numerous editorial boards and national scientific review and advisory groups. His research was recognized internationally and was funded by several grants from both the National Institutes of Health and the Department of Veterans Affairs. Though he was the author or co-author of approximately 100 scientific publications, he derived the greatest joy in his professional/scientific career from his role as a teacher of the many students, interns, residents, and fellows who were fortunate to come under his tutelage.


In his personal life, Mike and his wife, Peggy, greatly enjoyed international travel, gourmet cooking, and sculling. Philanthropically, they supported the Sun Health Foundation, the San Francisco Opera, and several educational institutions. Mike was a member of the Shepherd of the Hills United Methodist Church, where he served in several lay capacities, and the Board of Trustees of the West Valley Symphony.

Mike was married to Donna Johnson in 1956 till her death in 1990. From that marriage, he is survived by his children: Michael Mark Pollay, Signe Ann Pollay, and Karen Lee Pollay and his granddaughter, Sarah Hawk Rodriguez. He married Peggy Cook Mullikin in 1994, and she survives him. From his second marriage, he is survived by his stepchildren: M. David Mullikin, Teri L. Bourdeau, and Carol A. Hedrick; his step-grandchildren: Mauralise Mullikin, Alliana Mullikin, Shiloh Mullikin, Nicole Zucker, Louis Bourdeau, and Seth Bourdeau; and his step-great grandchildren: Benjamin and Madeleine Zucker. His was preceded in death by his step-grandson, Keith Hedrick.

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