The phrases “end of an era” and “loss of a legend” sometimes get thrown around to excess, but this is how I felt when James and Tim Mack announced the passing of their father, James E. (Jimmy) Mack
, at his home in Summerfield, NC on April 2 at age 73.
Pictured above from left to right are three generations of Mack men: Tim Mack, the late Jimmy Mack, and James Mack, the older son who is married to Beth Taylor, and their firstborn, and hence the first grandchild for Jimmy and Linda Mack, Ryan Mack. (Photo Joan Taylor)
My recollection of the red-haired choirboy was at Dover High School in the early 1960’s when he was always the featured soloist in the choirs. I was later told that he often performed the National Anthem prior to pro tournaments.
I also remember seeing him on local television as a bowler. Then he joined the Professional Bowlers Association (PBA) and went on tour. I knew he was good, mainly from his friends at Dover Lanes, but I didn’t realize he was that good.
Here are only a few bowling highlights: In 1981 he was inducted into the New Jersey State BA Hall of Fame (I was lucky enough to be there). In 1988 he was inducted into the Morris County USBC BA Hall of Fame.
He is listed as one of the “greatest Action bowlers of all time” on an action bowler website. He was runner-up to his friend Skee Foremsky in the 1969 Showboat (PBA) Invitational tournament in Las Vegas. He was featured in the 1972 PBA Tour trading card set.
While it is not listed in his achievements, he and team mate Paul Petescola shot a 600 doubles game (the Bowling Congress turned it down) and Jimmy said “It was the toughest 300 (his tenth) I ever threw, because I bowled second and I didn’t want to let Paul down.”
He, like his son Tim, was named Metropolitan Bowler of the Year in 1966. He had 3 PBA Regional titles and 2 Eagles from the American Bowling Congress national tournament in 1968 and 1973.
Jimmy and his wife Joan (Popovich) had 2 sons, James and Tim, and both parents’ athletic genes were bestowed upon the boys. Years later, in 1980, Jimmy married his current wife, Linda. They resided in North Carolina, and while Jimmy retired from bowling, he enjoyed golfing, especially when visiting up North to see his sons and grandchildren Ryan, Lana, and Jason.
He courageously fought and survived throat cancer, but in the past few months, “the big C” returned with a vengeance.
The well wishes poured in from all over the country, and are too numerous to cite here. I feel that this message from Linda Klusick, daughter of the county’s first hall-of-famer, the late John Klusick, says it all:
“As I thought about the bowling community (I do that often!), the admiration of all for the great few, and the acknowledged efforts of the many to learn and grow in the sport, it is easy to come up with the name ‘Jimmy Mack.’
I went back into the ‘treasured’ articles collected by my Dad over decades. The references to Klusick/Mack, Mack/Klusick, especially during the late 60s are priceless. I remember our family watching Jimmy on TV as he competed on the professional tour. A treat to watch him and the ‘rooting’ section of John, Lois, Jennifer and yours truly came through loud and clear!
Jimmy noted in his remembrance of my Dad, that ‘it was more than John’s ability that made me watch him, it was his class. I even buttoned my top (bowling) shirt button…’ (as my dad always did). I saw Jimmy about a year ago, and he reminded me of the top shirt button story.
Jimmy will always be remembered for his friendliness, that wonderful smile, his outstanding bowling accomplishments, and HIS class. To the Mack family, and as the ‘representative’ of the Klusick family, may I say thanks for sharing Jimmy with the bowling community over many decades.
We will always have the memories of a great guy enjoying the sport he loved–Heaven has just added more lanes…the games continue by the greats!”
By Joan Taylor
To read James E. Mack’s obituary, click here.