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Amos Mack Sr., 102; former foundry worker who stayed vigorous to the end

The key to a long life, Mr. Mack told his family, was "to be a good person, work hard, and love God."

Amos Mack Sr.
Amos Mack Sr.Read moreCourtesy of the family.

In 1915, the year Amos Mack Sr. was born, World War I was raging. A German U-boat sank the Lusitania off the coast of Ireland.

Charlie Chaplin's movie The Tramp was released. Alexander Graham Bell made the first coast-to-coast phone call. Hurricane Two devastated Galveston, Texas, and New Orleans.

Mr. Mack's life was a loop that took him from the sharecropper South to Philadelphia and then back to the South, where he lived in Florida with one daughter and spent time in North Carolina with another.

After Mr. Mack, 102, died Thursday, Nov. 16, of complications from a stroke at Carolinas HealthCare System in Charlotte, N.C., daughter Clorise E. Wynn said he had led a life unhampered by illness until the last few weeks. He drove until he was 90, and was still raring to go, but "we had to take away the keys," she said.

The key to a long life, Mr. Mack told his family, was "to be a good person, work hard, and love God."

Born in St. George, S.C.,  Mr. Mack was the eldest child of Josephine Breaker and Jim Mack. His early life was spent working on a farm in Dorchester County with his uncle and grandfather.

He became a Christian as a boy and a member of Good Hope Baptist Church in St. George. Every Sunday, he sang with a group, the Quartet of Gentlemen, that traveled from church to church, "singing God's praises."

The next phase of his life was spent as a civil servant in Charleston, S.C., during World War II. Instead of digging in on a European battlefield, he worked in a foundry, molding steel that was used to help the war effort.

In 1946, Mr. Mack left South Carolina to seek better opportunities in Philadelphia. He worked as a foreman for Gulf Oil Corp. and then began a long career with Philadelphia Bronze & Brass as a hammer smith.

"He took great pride in the quality of his work and he quickly became the go-to person, mentoring and training many of his fellow workers," his daughter said.

Even though he was South Carolina born and bred, Philadelphia became the special place where Mr. Mack sent down roots.

In the early 1950s, he met and married UZ Mattie Mack. The couple had three children, whom they reared in the Cobbs Creek section of Philadelphia. The Sansom Street home was a magnet for all, where there was good food, laughter, and love.

"Pop Mack," as Mr. Mack was known, would dress in his white cooking uniform to begin the preparations for his famous barbecued ribs every holiday. The holidays were always a special time at the Mack home.

"With Mom Mack's famous potato salad combined with Pop Mack's ribs, chicken, and homemade burgers, it was always a feast for friends and family," his daughter said.

In 1963, the Macks became members of the Metropolitan Baptist Church. Mr. Mack was appointed to the trustee board and served for 40 years. He was named trustee emeritus, his family said.

Mr. Mack was a self-taught plumber and auto mechanic. "There wasn't anything he could not fix," his daughter said.

Two years ago, Mr. Mack celebrated his 100th birthday with friends and family at the District 1199-C union hall. He looked elegant in a tuxedo, crisp white shirt, and bright red bow tie.  The women wore red dresses to match his tie. "He was holding court," his daughter said.

"He experienced so much in his 102 years of life, and we all became the beneficiaries of his wisdom and knowledge, through his stories and life lessons," his daughter said.

After his wife died in 2006, he moved to Florida to enjoy life with his daughter, Michelle Green. He also visited Wynn in North Carolina.

"He made many new friends, enjoyed the travel and the friendships he developed, but one thing was for certain – his heart was always in Philly," his daughter said. "He always spoke of returning to Philadelphia, and now he has, for his final resting place."

Besides his two daughters, Mr. Mack is survived by 11 grandchildren; 18 great-grandchildren; and nieces and nephews. Son Amos Jr., daughter Marylou Ladson, and a granddaughter died earlier.

A viewing from 9 to 11 a.m. Wednesday, Nov. 22, will be followed by an 11 a.m. life celebration at Metropolitan Baptist Church, 3500 Baring St. Interment is in Fernwood Cemetery, Lansdowne.