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May 26, 2014

American Legion post named in honor of Poller

THOMASVILLE — American Legion Post 122 has named its post in honor of one of Thomasville’s World War I soldiers — Jake Max Poller.

Poller, born in Russia, was a booster and supporter of community projects and activities.

At the age of 11 on Dec.  27, 1895, he migrated with his family to the United States. In 1907, Poller moved to Cairo.

By 1917, Poller was inducted in the U.S. Army and served during World War I. His service number was 2650785.

While in the Army, Poller because a U.S. citizen. After his discharge from the Army, he returned to Cairo where, in 1921, he opened a clothing and dry goods business on South Broad Street. The store remained in business at the same location until 1970.

In 1980, he was given the Community Service Award in recognition for his efforts. Poller was a leader in supporting the local Boy Scout program and often provided shoes or uniforms for boys who could not obtain them.

He was also a generous booster of the Red Cross and American Cancer Society. He is best remembered for his interest and support of local servicemen and veterans.

Almost every young Grady County man who left for the service in World War II, Korea and Vietnam was given a sendoff by Poller and his friends. He also found time to visit nearby veterans’ hospitals to cheer and encourage ex-servicemen.

Poller joined the American Legion in 1923 and helped obtain the charter for Cairo’s Post 122. He was a member of the “Forty and Eight” and received nearly every honor Post 122 could bestow.

He was recognized by local veterans as “Mr. Legionnaire of All Times.” In his later years, Poller expanded his interest and concern for people to include residents of nursing homes. Making frequent and regular visits to cheer up patients with a smile and words of cheer with special gifts on birthdays.

Poller’s concern touched many private citizens when they needed a helping hand, including gifts of funds, clothing and other essentials. His life has been described as “a rare combination of well-being, simplicity, compassion and humility.”

Poller died on Jan. 25, 1985— but through the American Legion Post 122 in Cairo, his legacy lives on.

 

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