When Dr. Mitchell Coleman Pollack of Setauket wasn't in the emergency room, he could often be found glued to a TV watching an Islanders game or whipping up a meal -- maybe a pot of Hoppin' John for New Year's Day.
Pollack -- director of the emergency department at John T. Mather Memorial Hospital in Port Jefferson for 29 years -- died on March 13 after battling cancer for 15 months. He was 62.
Pollack's wife, Dr. Marilyn Temkin, a core faculty member of the internal medicine residency program at Mather, said he enjoyed the ER's fast pace.
"He liked the excitement, and he liked the challenges of making a diagnosis," Temkin said.
Pollack was one of the first doctors specifically trained and board-certified in emergency medicine in the United States. At Mather, he helped develop the first chest pain emergency room on Long Island, his wife said.
Pollack had many passions -- the Islanders, the Jets, cooking, art and jazz.
Born in Brooklyn, Pollack and his parents, Phyllis and Samuel, moved to Valley Stream when he was 2.
After graduating from Valley Stream North High School in 1970, Pollack received a bachelor's degree in mathematics from Cornell University in 1974 and a medical degree from New York Medical College in 1977. He completed emergency medicine training at the UCLA Center for the Health Sciences in 1980.
Dr. Perry Gould of Garden City, who went to high school, college and medical school with Pollack, called his friend "the most gentle, non-temperamental, easygoing person I have known."
"He was a pioneer in emergency medicine and brought the standards up for everybody," he said.
Pollack and Dana Richardson, a Lynbrook classical music composer, another old friend, met in the fourth grade. They had a Friday night poker game in high school and shared an interest in film noir.
"He liked those old Sydney Greenstreet movies like 'The Maltese Falcon,'" Richardson said.
Pollack was also director of emergency medicine at Southside Hospital in Bay Shore and a founding member of the Regional Emergency Medical Advisory Committee for Suffolk County Emergency Medical Services. He served as volunteer medical director of various Long Island ambulance corps.
Pollack's daughters share his interest in medicine. Dr. Stephanie Leigh Pollack, 28, of Bellerose, Queens, is an emergency medicine resident at North Shore University Hospital in Manhasset. Ilana Ray Pollack, 23, of Manhattan, does diabetes research at Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in Manhattan.
Other survivors include Pollack's mother-in-law and father-in-law, Max and Sara Temkin of Douglaston, Queens; brother-in-law Dr. Jay Temkin and his wife, Beata, of Florida.
Burial was March 15 at New Montefiore Cemetery in Pinelawn.