Northwest NEWS

May 1, 2000

Front Page

Gene Mack, community pioneer, leaves legacy

Gene Mack

Gene Mack.

Summit F.D.

Gene was one of the founders of the Summit Fire Department.

Memorial service on Sat., May 13

   Longtime Woodinville resident and businessman Eugene (Gene) Arthur Mack, 84, passed away on Thursday, April 20, 2000 from a sudden heart attack.

   His wife of 23 years, Marie, announced that a memorial service celebrating Gene's life will be held on May 13 at 2 p.m. at the Northshore United Church of Christ, 18900 168th Ave. NE in Woodinville.

   Gene was born April 18, 1916, in Monroe. His parents, Victor Allen and Jane Ellen Mack, were among the first residents of the Woodinville/Cottage Lake area. He attended Cottage Lake Elementary School, a two-mile walk each way from the family farm.

   The family later moved to Seattle, where Gene attended Mercer School and then graduated from Queen Anne High School in 1934. He joined the CCC (Civilian Conservation Corps) and worked in Mt. Rainier National Park and in the Quilcene area. He later worked in sawmills and drove trucks for Stoneway Dock Sand & Gravel of Renton.

   Gene married in 1941, and he and his wife, Edna, purchased the family farm from his father. Although his father was against it, they opened up the landmark Mack's Corner Store, a grocery and gas station business on the Woodinville-Duvall Road, in 1948.

   "I wanted to give it a whirl, anyway," Gene said in an interview in 1997. He also established and ran a heating oil distribution company, delivering oil and wood to homes and businesses throughout the greater Eastside.

   Mack's Corner has been shown on Washington State maps since the 1950s, even when Woodinville wasn't listed.

   "Gene helped a lot of people in Woodinville with loans and carrying them on their groceries and oil bills over many years," said Jack Walgamott, a longtime friend. "He helped me during the early 1950s when I first moved to Woodinville and worked in construction and was out of work every winter."

   "He used to go up and down the Woodinville-Duvall Road at about 10 miles an hour in his oil truck, and people used to get so aggravated and ask him to drive a little faster. He never did," said Jim Despain, another longtime friend.

   Gene was one of the founders of the Summit Fire Department (now known as the Woodinville Fire & Life Safety District). He was involved for 32 years with the fire district: 20 years as a volunteer and 12 as a commissioner. He also served as a Woodinville Water commissioner.

   "In the 1950s, many people didn't have a phone, so whoever got the fire call would go to the firehouse at the top of hill and sound the horn. Whoever got there first would take the fire truck to the fire and Gene or Edna would stand out in front of Mack's Corner and flag down the volunteers as they came along the road to direct us to the fire," said Walgamott. "He was a real credit to our area."

   Gene's wife Edna passed away in 1966.

   Gene also drove a school bus. He was co-founder of the Woodinville Chamber of Commerce and a 52-year member of the Masonic Order and the Shrine Nile Temple. In 1997, Gene was honored by the Nile Temple and the Illustrious Potentate Wayne Duke, who said, "During 50 years of service, Gene Mack has proven to be one of the outstanding citizens in the community." Gene was also a 63-year member of the Renton Eagles.

   Gene helped organize the Mountain View Community Club, donating the land and arranging for a World War II barracks to be moved onto the property; the building has since been turned over to the Woodinville Lions Club.

   Gene married Marie Portin in 1977. The couple were selected as the Grand Marshals for the first All Fools' Day Parade in 1978. He and Marie have supported youth programs, education and religious construction in the area, and been instrumental in philanthropic support in the community. He sold a 10-acre property to Bellevue Christian for an elementary school which was named Mack Elementary, as well as the four-acre property for the Northshore United Church of Christ.

   After Gene stopped driving nine months ago due to vision concerns, he rode his riding lawn mower down to Mack's Corner, and even up to the Top of the Hill to visit his friends.

   Concerned about local government and local issues, Gene was active in the supporting candidates that he felt had the community interest at heart. He fought for neighborhood business zoning and other issues he felt were important. He also supported local businesses, and had a close relationship with many residents and business owners throughout the years.

   Northshore United Church of Christ honored Gene, as well as others, in a service and luncheon on Sunday, April 16, just four days before his death. He will be remembered for his friendly ways and cheerful manner.

   His wife, Marie, and sisters, Marie Portin of Renton and Edith Grobe of Port Ludlow, and sister-in-law, Eloise Pierce of Kirkland, survive him. He is also survived by sons, John Dulaney of Graham, Kenneth Dulaney of Woodinville, Leonard Dulaney of Camano Island, and daughter Renee Minami of Hawaii; along with 20 grandchildren, 27 great-grandchildren, one great-great-grandchild, and two nieces and 2 nephews.

   He was preceded in death by his first wife, Edna, of 25 years and sons, Bill and Jack Llewellyn, and his brothers, William and Elmer Mack.

   The family suggests remembrances be made to the Bellevue Christian School; 1601 98th NE; Bellevue, WA 98004.

   Mack was buried with Masonic Rites on April 24 in a private family service at Greenwood Cemetery in Renton.

Publisher's Note: This is a very sad passage for our community. Underlining Gene's many accomplishments and philanthropic contributions was a man with a good and decent heart. It is impossible to know the number of people that Gene helped by carrying their grocery and oil bills over the years, but there were many. He continued helping others in many ways until the end. Gene also cared about the community and its future. He will be greatly missed.