Marion Arthur “Art” Poland
At the age of 87, Art Poland went to be with our Lord on June 9, 2011. He passed away peacefully
at home surrounded by his family. Art was born on Oct. 17, 1923 in Corydon, Iowa, to Donald L.
and Geneva M. Poland.
Art came to California with his parents and brother Maurice as a child and eventually settled in
Modesto where he graduated from high school and volunteered for the Army Air Corps during
World War II. He trained initially for aircraft flight mechanics, and early in the program he was
promoted to drill instructor. He took an opportunity for flight school and proved himself a natural
pilot. He was assigned to a B-17 crew and flew seven missions over Germany as a co-pilot. His
experience with aircraft machinery, and his skill as a pilot, led to the assignment of squadron test
pilot. As the allies began to push for victory, Art was given a crew and was reassigned as a pilot.
He named his B-17 Gloria Mae, after his wife, and he and his men flew in five of the concluding
missions of the war.
Art and Gloria were married during the war on Aug. 7, 1944, and were married for nearly 67 years.
After the war, Art and Gloria settled in Los Angeles where he mastered the construction trades,
earned his licenses, and opened his own masonry contracting business. He brought his family,
construction skills and business to Big Bear in 1959, where he continued to build. He soon opened
Big Bear’s first masonry building supply yard. That business grew into Art Poland Sales and
provided a wide variety of products and services to the community for over 50 years. For many
years Art also worked as a ski instructor and board member at Snow Summit ski resort.
Art participated in numerous community projects. In 1963, Art was one of the founders of the First
Baptist Church of Bear Valley, which had its first meetings in his and Gloria’s home. He was appointed
as a San Bernardino County Planning Commissioner in the early '70s and was a founding City Planning
Commissioner for Big Bear Lake in the early '80s. Through the '90s, he was active in business in Big
In the new century he and Gloria began to winter in Palm Springs, but continued to live in Big Bear
through the rest of the year.
Art was a self-taught Christian Bible scholar and lifelong Bible teacher. Wherever he lived, he taught
adult Bible classes on Sunday mornings, held weekly Bible studies in his home, wrote numerous white
papers on various theological issues facing his students, and in the later years maintained an active
email ministry with his many students. Art touched the lives of many because he understood what he
believed, and was able to communicate it to all who would listen.
Art is survived by his wife, Gloria, 4 sons: David, Chris, Larry, and Tim; 3 daughters-in-law: Barbara,
Ann, and Sherrill; 6 grandchildren: Cathy, Matt, Stephanie, Marie, Laura, and Julia; 5 grandchildren-in-law:
Chris, Tanya, Patrick, Glenn, and Nick; and 8 great-grandchildren: Ryan, Zoe, Emily, Jack, Ben, Allan,
Jonathan, and baby Jacklin due in July.
A memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. Saturday, June 18, at the First Baptist Church located at 41960
Big Bear Blvd., Big Bear Lake. A reception will follow at the Poland house located at 41655 Tahoe Drive,
Big Bear Lake. Inquiries, please call Tim Poland at 559-906-6243. Memorial donations can be made to
Nueva Vida Iglesia Bautista, c/o Pastor Mario Flores, 1696 South El Cielo Rd., Palm Springs, CA 92264.