In Memoriam: Elizabeth “Libby” Pollard

Libby Pollard

The National Association of the Deaf (NAD) is saddened by the passing of Elizabeth “Libby” Pollard at the age of 80 on April 26, 2020. Libby was a strong, intelligent, and compassionate leader who served the NAD as Region I Board Member and subsequently as President. Her service to the NAD did not stop after completion of her board tenure; she also counseled our organization as a Parliamentarian.

Born Elizabeth Sparks on March 21, 1940, she became known to everyone as Libby during her three years at the West Virginia School for the Deaf and the Blind (WVSDB). She transferred to the Western Pennsylvania School for the Deaf (WPSD), and graduated in 1956. Next, she enrolled at Gallaudet College and went on to study data entry at the Electronics Computer Programming Institute in Cleveland, Ohio for two years. In 1972, Libby became a keypunch/data entry operator at the Iron City Sash and Door Company in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. While working there, she took training courses in advanced computer programming. Her commitment and desire to advance her skills led to two promotions, first as Junior Computer Programmer and then as Senior Programmer/Systems Analyst. Libby retired in April 2002 after 30 years with the company.

Throughout her life, Libby contributed significantly to many organizations as a volunteer, board member, and parliamentarian. She served on the boards of WPSD, the WPSD Alumni Association, and the Gallaudet University Alumni Association (GUAA). She rose to become the first female president in several organizations including the local division of the National Fraternal Society of the Deaf, Pittsburgh Association of the Deaf, and the Pennsylvania Society for the Advancement of the Deaf (PSAD).

At the 1994 Biennial NAD Conference in Knoxville, Tennessee, Libby was elected as Region 1 Board Member for a four-year term on the NAD Board of Directors. At the 1998 NAD Biennial Conference in San Antonio, Texas, she was elected as President of NAD, becoming the third woman to serve in this capacity. She was re-elected President at the 2000 Biennial NAD Conference in Norfolk, Virginia. After her NAD service, she studied to become a certified parliamentarian. In her role as one of a very small handful of deaf certified parliamentarians across the nation, Libby served numerous organizations including the NAD. She also provided parliamentary and leadership training as well as consultation services, and served as a mentor for those aspiring to parliamentary careers.

Libby is survived by four sons: Verne Taylor of Cleveland, OH; David Taylor of Kansas City, MO; Richard Taylor of North Branch, MN; and Tim Taylor of Dover, DE; as well as 15 grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren. Libby was predeceased by her husband Henry Pollard and her parents Edgar and Maude Sparks. Libby is also survived by her sister Dianne Sparks Gallagher (predeceased by husband Patrick Gallagher) and their two children.

The NAD deeply appreciates Libby Pollard’s extraordinary service as Region I Board Member (1994-98) and President (1998-2002) for our Board of Directors.

NAD President Melissa Draganac-Hawk (2016-present) expressed her respect: “Libby Pollard represented the finest in our deaf community. I first met her at the 2000 NAD Conference in Norfolk, Virginia. I was impressed by her ability to conduct meetings in a strong and firm manner when she was actually a very sweet woman who took her time to talk with everyone. Libby broke many barriers as she led all of us, and then trained many deaf individuals to become leaders. She leaves behind a distinguished legacy that will last for generations.”

Ben Soukup, who served as NAD President (1993-1998) during Libby’s term as Region I Board Member, fondly remembers: “Libby Pollard was an outstanding leader, having much passion and love for the NAD and our community. Her many contributions include her leadership at the state level and then as President of the NAD. She is well known for advancing parliamentary procedure within the NAD and its member organizations, which still carries on today. She will be missed greatly.” 

Mark Apodaca, who served as NAD Treasurer (1996-2002) under Libby’s term as President and also pursued the same path as a parliamentarian as she did: “The Deaf Community lost an incredibly wise and humble but great leader. Libby Pollard was a great President of NAD and an exceptionally fine Certified Parliamentarian. She was also a strong person of influence. She will be deeply missed.”