Walter A. “Wally” Mack
Sep 4, 1924 – Dec 23, 2017
Walter Andrew Charles Mack, age 93, passed away in Omaha, on Saturday, December 23. Wally was born on September 4, 1924, in Chicago, IL, he served in the Army Air Forces in WWII, and he went on to a long career with the Bell Telephone Company. He is survived by his wife of 75 years, Betty (Klimek); sons, Dennis Mack (Robert Cohen) of New York City and Craig Mack (Becky) of Moline, IL; daughter, Sue Meusey (Joe) of Omaha; nine grandchildren; thirteen great- grandchildren; and two nieces. He was preceded in death by his parents, Alma (Peters) and Walter Mackowiak; and one sister.
VISITATION will be held from 5-7pm Wednesday, December 27, 2017, at West Center Chapel. SERVICES will be held at 11am Thursday, December 28, at the Presbyterian Church of the Cross. Private Interment in Evergreen Memorial Park. Memorials are suggested to Presbyterian Church of the Cross, or the Alzheimer’s Association.
Wally grew up on the Northwest side of Chicago. His father was hospitalized when Wally was 2 1/2 years old, so his mother became the breadwinner for the family. Wally was on the safety patrol for his grade school and sold copies of the Saturday Evening Post at Wrigley Field and at local factories. During the summers he watched Cubs games from the roof tops of the neighboring buildings.
Although Wally was a very smart student, a college education was out of the question financially; so, following his mother’s and sister’s footsteps, he began working at Illinois Bell Telephone Company on February 2, 1941. On that same day he met his future wife, Betty Jane Klimek, at a new-employee orientation class. They were both messengers; not until years later did Betty learn that Wally made $65 a month while she made only $60 for doing the same job!
World War II had begun; not wanting to be drafted, Wally joined the Army Air Forces Signal Corps on 13 November 1942. He knew it wouldn’t be long before he was sent overseas, so Betty and Wally were married on the evening of February 6, 1943 during a bad ice storm. In July of 1943 he went to Foggia, Italy via a troop ship and became a Radar Technician on B-17 bombers. He achieved the rank of sergeant and separated from the service in November of 1945, returning to Illinois Bell.
As a young Father of three, he found time to play Chicago softball, go bowling and golfing, play cards, and read. He helped his father-in-law, Ed, remodel the carriage house behind the family home, turning it into a home for the young family. When Susan was born, it was obvious that another bedroom was needed, so Wally and Ed built one. Wally learned many trade skills from his father-in-law.
In 1956 Wally was transferred to New Jersey Bell Labs in Murray Hill. The family moved to Madison, New Jersey in February of 1957 and purchased their first home. During the next five years Wally worked in Murray Hill, AT&T in New York City, and Pennsylvania Bell in King of Prussia. While living on the east coast, he became active in the Presbyterian Church.
In August of 1961 the family was transferred to Omaha, Nebraska with Northwestern Bell Telephone Company. When the family joined Presbyterian Church of the Cross in January of 1962, Wally began serving as a Deacon, Elder, usher and Stephen Minister. The church was an important part of Betty’s and Wally’s lives. So, too, were the many telephone company families who were “extended family.”
In 1967 the Macks hosted a foreign exchange student, Liz Gardiner, from Johannesburg, South Africa. During school breaks and summer months, they traveled with Liz throughout the United States, coast to coast. In 1976 they traveled to Europe to visit their son Dennis, who was living in Paris at the time. Liz fit into the family perfectly and continues to stay in touch.
Wally was proud of being able to send his son Dennis to Yale University and Harvard Law School; his son Craig to the University of Nebraska Architecture School; and his daughter Susan to University of Nebraska Medical Technology School–the first generation of the family to go to college!
Living in Nebraska, Wally and Betty lost no time in becoming faithful Husker fans, attending all home games in Lincoln as well as many away games. They particularly enjoyed watching daughter Sue cheering the Huskers on as a member of the pom-pom Yell Squad during the Devaney era.
After 41 ½ years of service, Wally retired from Northwestern Bell in 1982 and he and Betty became “snowbirds,” wintering in Corpus Christi, Texas; Lake Havasu, Arizona; Oceanside, California, and ending up in New Smyrna Beach, Florida for many years. During those winter months they would play golf, go shopping, play cards, eat at great restaurants, walk the beach, and entertain family and friends from all over the US and Canada.
Wally remained active in retirement, serving as a greeter at the airport’s Information Booth, coaching his grandsons’ baseball teams, attending many of the grandchildren’s sporting events, and being part of the Golden Kiwanis group. He was always available helping with any project big or small.
Wally and Betty moved into the Arboretum on 6 March 2000 and became involved in many different areas, but their favorite was being in charge of the Saturday afternoon Bingo games. Dad would call the numbers and Mom would collect and distribute the money to the winners.
Roughly ten years ago, the family started noticing signs of memory loss in Wally. Betty cared for him as long as she could, but on January 15, 2016 he was admitted to the Memory Care Unit at Sterling Ridge. It has been a long good bye, but many new memories were made during his stay at Sterling Ridge—lots of laughter and smiles. Everyone who worked on staff knew Wally and they would often tell the family about something amusing he had done that week to make them laugh.