Obituary,Wine Writer

Wine Writer/Critic Joe Pollack of St. Louis, Missouri Died on Friday, March 9, 2012

Joe Pollack dies at age 81 on Friday, March 9, 2012 ~ St. Louis Dispatch’s best-known food and wine critic.

The memorial service for Joe Pollack’s family and friends will be on Saturday, March 17, 11:00 a.m., at The Repertory Theatre of St. Louis, 130 Edgar Road, Webster Groves.

In his St. Louis, Misourri, career, Joe worked for the St. Louis Globe-Democrat, as a publicist for the St. Louis Cardinals football team, and for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, and was the host of the arts program Cityscape at St. Louis Public Radio, contributing movie and theatre reviews.

He and his wife Ann Pollack Lemons have a blog entitled: St. Louis Eats and Drinks with Joe and Ann Pollack. It was after writing his latest movie review, “We need to talk about Kevin,”  he passed away at his computer, where his wife found him. She posted his story for him at 5:04 a.m.

What a grand man Joe Pollack was. We’ve been in touch since I began my own wine PR career in the early 1990s, as he’d been part of the fabric in his own home city of St. Louis. If you read about food and wine in St. Louis, you knew Joe Pollack. I’m going to sorely miss this straight shooting man.

In an article on the SLToday.com website, the title says it all ~ Joe Pollack dies; St. Louis’ best-known critic once sent back an envelope filled with cash

The story states,

Mr. Pollack once received an envelope stuffed with cash, delivered by a messenger sent by a restaurant owner. “It was lots of money,” said his wife, Ann Lemons Pollack. Mr. Pollack sent the envelope back and never again entered the restaurant.

I can see him doing that. He couldn’t be bought, and if he didn’t like what he was tasting, he was honest. It was one man’s opinion; however, that opinion could make or break a business. He went to businesses without letting people know who he was, making reservations under assumed names. But, once he was in the room, everyone knew who had arrived.

Jose and I took him to a restaurant that we were representing years ago with his wife Ann Lemons Pollack. That cemented our relationship. It’s amazing how one good meal with great food and wine can establish a longtime friendship with wonderful people. Joe was that kind of a man, and it was that kind of a friendship with Ann and him.


Joe Pollack’s wife woke up around 2:27 a.m. Friday and noticed he had not come to bed. She went to see if he was alright and she found him in the bathroom.  She called 911. Ann Lemons Pollack said she looked at his computer and realized he had just completed writing a movie review, so she posted it for him…

On CBS St. Louis:

Joe Pollack was a talented writer and reviewer on the cultural scene in St. Louis. He was uncompromising in his standards and he set the bar for reviewers in St. Louis very high.

After retiring from the Post Dispatch in 1995, Joe and his wife Ann started a blog called St. Louis Eats and Drinks With Joe and Ann Pollack. If you check that blog, you’ll see that Joe’s last entry, a review of the film “We Need To Talk About Kevin,” was posted at 5:09 AM the day he died.

 Joe never missed a deadline.
On my blog, which he said was an honor to be on:

[Q]  Many wine writers also have a day job. If wine isn’t your job, what is and for whom?

[Joe]  I’ve been writing for money since 1945, when I was in high school. Retired after 30+ years in newspapers, 10 in p.r., lots of radio and tv, now run a blog, write regularly for St. Louis Magazine and the St. Louis Journalism Review, and for intelligent editors who commission stories.

[Q]  For what would you like to be remembered?

[Joe]  As an honest man who wrote with passion.

Mission accomplished, my dear friend…
Joe Pollack is survived by his wife Ann Lemons Pollack, three children and four grandchildren.


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7 Responses to “Wine Writer/Critic Joe Pollack of St. Louis, Missouri Died on Friday, March 9, 2012”

  1. Honey says:

    as time flys by so do our mentors of life, we have to take time to slow down and cherish moments with all those around us…my condolences to the family and loved ones of Joe Pollack.

  2. Sorry to hear about this, my father just lost one of his closest friends. A WWII vet, he was so fun to talk with in the summer at the lake my parents have a place on. It was funny, every 4th of July, they would say where is Alvie, hiding under the bed?

    You know because of his experience with load noises from WWII. It was funny then when he was a live.

  3. Jo Diaz says:

    Sweet remembrances, Jack.

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  5. Adam says:

    what a tragic event to happen…

  6. Thank you so much, Jo. Joe had such a good time with his life. Our palates were similar enough that it made working easy, and he was a joy to cook for (to answer the second-most-common question we’d get). Astonishing the amount of grief around town for a guy who still styled himself just a newspaperman. A friend sent this from James Joyce:

    He lived.
    He laughed.
    He loved.
    He left.

    That’s about it.

    With warm wishes,

  7. Jo Diaz says:

    Bless your heart, Ann.

    Jose and I are so sorry for your loss. Joe certainly knew how to live, and his exit – regardless of how painful for the rest of us it was – was with such class and the way any writer would want to go.

    What a precious man. The grief is spread out far and wide, too. What a guy!

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