Sher­man J. Pol­ley

Columbia res­i­dent was a long­time ad­vo­cate of af­ford­able hous­ing and a dec­o­rated World War II veteran

Baltimore Sun - - OBITUARIES - By Jac­ques Kelly jac­ques.kelly@balt­sun.com

Sher­man J. Pol­ley, a re­tired af­ford­able­hous­ing of­fi­cial who was also ac­tive in the Na­tional Ne­gro Golf As­so­ci­a­tion, died of com­pli­ca­tions from de­men­tia Aug. 18 at the Lorien Columbia nurs­ing home. The long­time Columbia res­i­dent was 97. Born in Hunt­ing­ton, W.Va., and raised in In­di­anapo­lis, Ind., he was a1938 grad­u­ate of Cris­pus At­tucks High School.

He en­listed in the Army dur­ing World War II and was as­signed to a seg­re­gated unit, the 93rd In­fantry, known as the Blue Hats.

He par­tic­i­pated in the bat­tle of Moro­tai, Nether­lands East Indies, and was awarded a Bronze Star. His dis­charge pa­pers said he earned the medal “for mer­i­to­ri­ous achieve­ment in sup­port of mil­i­tary op­er­a­tions against the en­emy.”

Af­ter the war, he earned a bach­e­lor’s de­gree from West Vir­ginia State Univer­sity, where he was a mem­ber of the Omega Psi Phi fra­ter­nity

He also ob­tained a mas­ter’s de­gree in mar­ket­ing from But­ler Univer­sity in In­di­anapo­lis. While at But­ler, he served as an as­sis­tant bas­ket­ball coach.

In 1952, while liv­ing in In­di­anapo­lis, he mar­ried Ru­bie Thomp­son. They met as work­ers at a Western Elec­tric Co. plant.

Mr. Pol­ley then taught ac­count­ing at Tyler Col­lege in Texas, where he also coached bas­ket­ball.

In 1954 he moved to Philadelphia and joined the old Food Fair gro­cery store chain as a re­search an­a­lyst. He be­came an ad­min­is­tra­tive as­sis­tant to the branch man­ager and later su­per­vised op­er­a­tions of 102 stores through­out the Philadelphia metro area.

Fam­ily mem­bers said Mr. Pol­ley lived for a time in a home in Black­wood, N.J. He en­joyed golf but was not per­mit­ted to play at a nearby seg­re­gated course. He brought a law­suit that ul­ti­mately opened the course to African-Amer­i­cans.

In1968, he moved to Bal­ti­more to work as vice pres­i­dent in charge of op­er­a­tions of the old Su­per Jet Food Mar­kets, a firm that had re­cently opened its first Bal­ti­more store at the Mon­dawmin shop­ping cen­ter.

Mr. Pol­ley changed ca­reers in 1970, be­com­ing ex­ec­u­tive vice pres­i­dent of a pri­vate Bal­ti­more non­profit hous­ing agen- cy, Home Own­er­ship Plan En­deavor — also known as Project Hope. He held the post briefly, then joined the Model Cities Hous­ing De­vel­op­ment Cor­po­ra­tion as its ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor.

Mr. Pol­ley su­per­vised con­struc­tion of new af­ford­able-in­come town­houses in the 300 block of N. Carey St

“We want to do all we can to get homes for low- and mod­er­ate-in­come fam­i­lies,” he said in an ar­ti­cle in The Sun.

The Pol­ley fam­ily lived briefly in Bal­ti­more, then found a new home in Columbia. He was among the first 100 own­ers in the Bryant Woods sec­tion of the Vil­lage of Wilde Lake.

“He selected Columbia be­cause it was a nice place to live, but also be­cause of its di­ver­sity of races and re­li­gions,” said a daugh­ter, Karen El­iz­a­beth Randall of Columbia. “My par­ents wanted us to ac­cept ev­ery­one. The ideals of Columbia he be­lieved in, and he wanted that en­vi­ron­ment for his fam­ily.”

Af­ter mov­ing to Howard County, Mr. Pol­ley en­joyed play­ing golf at the Hob­bits Glen course, and he joined the Na­tional Ne­gro Golf As­so­ci­a­tion. He com­peted in events spon­sored by the as­so­ci­a­tion and helped raise funds for char­i­ties. He re­mained a golfer for many years.

He later be­came pres­i­dent of the D.C. De­vel­op­ment Corp., a non­profit that pro­vided hous­ing as­sis­tance.

He re­tired nearly 30 “The ideals of Columbia he be­lieved in,” Sher­man J. Pol­ley’s daugh­ter said of him. years ago.

Mr. Pol­ley later moved to Palm Coast, Fla., where he helped es­tab­lish the Tau Pi Columbia chap­ter of the Omega Psi Phi fra­ter­nity. He moved back to Columbia in 2012.

He was a mem­ber of St. Johns United Church.

Plans for ser­vices at Ar­ling­ton Na­tional Ceme­tery are pend­ing.

He is sur­vived by his wife of 64 years, a re­tired Bal­ti­more City el­e­men­tary schools teacher, as well as his daugh­ter; three sons, John Evan Pol­ley of Char­lotte, N.C., Stephen Lewis Pol­ley of Los Angeles and Ed­ward Phillip Pol­ley of Columbia; an­other daugh­ter, Clau­dia Ann Pol­ley of Los Angeles; seven grand­chil­dren; and three great­grand­chil­dren. A son, Sher­man J. Pol­ley III, died as an in­fant.

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