No one who was mad at Ollie Poole could stay that way once he picked up his guitar, his loved ones said.
Friends and family gathered Wednesday where he played, at Hilltop Christian Church, to remember the 59-year-old, who was hit and killed by a vehicle May 19 in Tacoma.
“It was a husband that was taken, a father, a friend, a minister, a mentor,” said Felita Poole, his former wife, who said they remained close after their divorce. He was involved with many local congregations, but most recently had focused on playing music at the Hilltop Church, she said.
Poole was halfway across the street May 19 in the 6100 block of Sixth Avenue when a car hit him. He died at Tacoma General Hospital. Police said the 37-year-old driver apparently didn’t see him, and investigators do not believe drugs or alcohol were involved. The driver was not arrested.
Felita Poole said that at her wedding Ollie played his guitar with Freddie Stone, co-founder of Sly and the Family Stone. One friend laughed and said Poole, who stood at 6-foot-8, had fingers that looked far too big to pluck tiny strings.
Teddy bear was a phrase used by many to describe him.
Poole had a knack for knowing what was troubling someone, even if it was a person he barely knew, family and friends said.
And when he was listening to someone, they said it was like no one else was in the room.
One woman said the reason she pursued her dream of studying criminal justice was because Poole encouraged her.
A man said he met Poole as a teenager and doesn’t think he would have “heard the word of God” from anyone else.
“I didn’t know anyone who could pray like Ollie,” stepdaughter Ramona Nabors said.
Daniel Aguillon, 27, said Poole helped prepare him mentally and spiritually for military deployment. He had a lower back injury before he left for bootcamp, and said he credits his success there to his friend’s prayers. He first met Poole when he was about 12. About that age he had been having trouble with friends and started crying to Poole while doing yard work one day. They talked, and after Poole’s advice, Aguillon said he visited almost every week.
“That deep voice was terrifyingly comforting,” he laughed Wednesday.
Poole, who was from San Francisco, is survived by his father, Oliver Poole Sr., five sons, two daughters, a brother, grandchildren and other loved ones. His family said they’re grateful to the church community, which has been caring for them with meals and support.
A California memorial service will be held at 1 p.m. Saturday at 848 Sonoma Blvd., in Vallejo, at Evangelist Temple Fellowship Center.
Alexis Krell: 253-597-8268