Dr. Marvin Lindsey Mack was doctor, friend

Wednesday, April 2, 2014 | 10:19 p.m. CDT

COLUMBIA — Dr. Marvin Lindsey Mack, an internal medicine practitioner, was more than a doctor to his patients. He gave life advice along with the medical, shared his booming laugh and created lifelong friendships.

"Well, many people, even though he was their doctor, considered him a personal friend, counselor and healer," long-time patient Vernon Niles said. "He was just as much concerned about a person's personal life as he was about their medical treatment."

Throughout the community, Dr. Mack could strike up a conversation with anyone. 

"He had a big, wholesome laugh," His older brother, Melvin Mack, remembers. "He loved people. He would walk up to strangers and sit and talk." 

Dr. Marvin Lindsey Mack of Columbia died Sunday, March 30, 2014. He was 62. 

He was born on March 5, 1952, in Laurel, Miss., to Rogers and Lennie (Grady) Mack.

He spent his younger days hunting, picking blackberries and fishing on the Gulf Coast, Melvin Mack said. 

From a young age, Dr. Mack had the personality and determination to succeed, his brother said. When hard times hit the family after Dr. Mack's father had to retire early because of bad health, Dr. Mack and his five siblings all worked after-school jobs to help the family make ends meet. 

Dr. Mack was always dedicated to his studies. When he was a teenager, his brother Melvin would come home after playing baseball and other sports outside and find him lying across the sofa, asleep with a book on his chest.

"He was well-versed on every subject," Melvin Mack said.

Dr. Mack joined the U.S. Marines in 1972 as a way to help pay for college. During that time he met Jeffrey Williams, who will join the faculty of the University of Central Missouri in the fall. After their time with the Marine Corps, Dr. Mack and Williams attended the University of Missouri-Kansas City together.

"Dr. Mack was one who refused to be defined by boundaries," Williams said. "He demonstrated through confidence the ability of black men to succeed in an area of endeavor in which they have been allowed few opportunities." 

While working at the Kansas City airport before attending medical school, Dr. Mack met his wife, Ramona. The two became friends and started dating while they both attended school at MU. They married in July 1981.

Dr. Mack graduated from the MU School of Medicine in 1981. After completing his internal medicine residency in 1984, Dr. Mack tried to get a loan to start his own practice, Williams said. He was unsuccessful, however, and decided to work in  Missouri prisons until he had enough money to start his own business. 

In 1989, Dr. Mack opened the Walk-In Medical Clinic. He treated many patients of all walks of life until his death, Williams said. 

"When he started, he worked seven days a week," Williams said. "That is what helped make the Walk-In Clinic successful, but he was also good at his job."

Ramona Mack worked at the clinic along with her husband and saw the impact he had on the community. 

"People felt like he was their doctor, even though it was a walk-in clinic," she said.

At most walk-in clinics, people go in one time and don't go back, Ramona Mack said. But Dr. Mack would see patients over and over again. He really connected with them, especially about farming. 

"It was easy for him to talk to people of all different levels," Ramona Mack said. 

Dr. Mack saw a lot of patients each day. He was a friend and always willing to help, even if his patients couldn't afford it.

"If people legitimately could not pay, he would figure out a way for them to be seen," Ramona Mack said. 

Williams said Dr. Mack accomplished what he was sent here to accomplish and impacted the community through his practice. He was a reserved man and maintained an extremely low profile, Williams said.

"His impact was through the people he served," Williams said.

After his death, many of his patients shared their feelings of shock and sadness through social media.

Although Pamela Lambert only visited Dr. Mack a couple of times for colds and a case of poison ivy, she felt he cared about her. 

"I always felt like he truly cared about me and my minor illnesses, even though he only saw me a few times," Lambert said.

Lisa Jeffries Pagett remembers a time when she visited Dr. Mack when she was in fourth or fifth grade for an infection from a bur stuck in her foot. Dr. Mack helped her and made sure she was still able to perform as a baton twirler in a parade for her school. 

"He was more like an extended member of the family than a doctor," Pagett said.

Dr. Mack not only made an impact on the Columbia community but also on his hometown in Mississippi and beyond. His brother Melvin, who still lives in Laurel, Miss., said that he has been stopped on the street to talk about his brother and has received calls from his brother's classmates and friends from all over the country.

"He was really loved by everyone who came in contact with him," Melvin Mack said. "He is going to be missed."

In his free time, Dr. Mack enjoyed hunting, fishing and shooting. He also had four farms around the mid-Missouri area, his wife said. Dr. Mack worked on the farms himself, with some help from his son and occasional community members. 

"He had the will, endurance and energy to maintain a successful medical practice and maintain a farm," Williams said.

Dr. Mack is survived by his wife of 33 years, Ramona Mack; a daughter, Lindsay Beckett and her husband, Andrew; a son, Dillon Mack; his mother, Lennie Mack; five siblings, Joe Rogers, Shelly Mack, Reger Mack, Melvin Mack, and Georgia Mack; and a granddaughter, Claire Beckett. 

His father died earlier. 

Visitation will be held from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Friday at Woodcrest Chapel, 2201 W. Nifong Blvd. Services will immediately follow at the chapel.

Memorial contributions can be made to the American Heart Association c/o Bach-Yager Funeral Chapel, 1610 N. Garth Ave., Columbia, MO 65202.

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