WACO, Texas — Whether on the diamond, the hardwood or the gridiron, Darnell Lee Pollard Jr. could be found officiating a youth sports game in Texas.
In Waco, the youth referee made his biggest impact.
"Darnell was pretty much my mentor, my trainer coming in about 10 years ago," Ball Is Life Athletics Owner Larry Howse said. "As a young umpire, he taught me a lot about the game. He was a professional in the youth level."
Pollard died on Nov. 11, less than a week before his 50th birthday.
Howse said Pollard was known everywhere they went.
They were partners when they officiated for years. Howse said the kids loved him and parents loved and respected him. Coaches rarely, if ever, complained about his calls.
Howse says Pollard knew the game, loved the game and everyone knew it.
"He gave me that opportunity to provide for my family, to become a good umpire and to get better jobs in the umpiring field to the to the point I was able to have my own organization eventually because of him and his training," Howse said.
Howse said Pollard loved his mother very much. Everyone knew that too. He talked her up to anyone who would listen.
"I just know he's a very good person. He's a friend to a lot of people and he did a lot for the youth of this community," Howse said.
Friends on Facebook offered many condolences in comments on pictures and posts. Several people also shared their memories of Pollard on online guest books.
Howse says he hopes to commemorate Pollard's memory by creating a scholarship in his honor for young and upcoming officials, referees and umpires.
"My plan is to get with Greater Waco umpires and possibly set up a scholarship fund in Darnell's name for younger umpires going forward if they want to get in the line of work in umpiring," he said.
Pollard's funeral is set for Saturday at 3 p.m. at 7524 Bosque Blvd. in Waco.