New Park Memorializes Beloved Citrus Professor Thomas Mack
The Thomas Mack Family (L-R): Ruby Mack; Nicole Brann; Kristina McHenry; Karen Mack. Front: Lindsey and Bryson Thomas.
LAKELAND (Nov. 16, 2010) The city of Lakeland and Florida Southern on Monday dedicated a beautiful park on the shores of Lake Hollingsworth in memory of a beloved former FSC professor of citrus.
The Thomas Mack Park is on Lake Hollingsworth Drive between Johnson and Melton Avenues, across the street from the College where the late Professor Mack taught from 1951 to 1998. He also served as the City of Lakeland's landscape architect from 1960 to 1970 and was a founding member of the Lakeland Beautification Board.
FSC president Dr. Anne Kerr called Professor Mack a "larger-than-life educator and personality whose legacy lives on through the important contributions of his former students, now practitioners and leaders in citrus and horticulture across Florida and the nation, through thousands of Lakeland residents who learned landscape beautification through his highly popular newspaper column, and across the landscape of the city of Lakeland."
She added that Professor Mack was instrumental in the campus's earliest beautification efforts, a commitment that she is proud to continue today. "As we dedicate the Thomas Mack Park, I am grateful for all that has been accomplished by the College and the City that began in large measure through the life and unparalleled contributions of an exceptional educator, horticulturist, and citrus industry advocate, who sowed the seeds that today bear the rich fruits of enhanced lives, livelihoods, and landscapes."
Over his lengthy career, Professor Mack published hundreds of articles and two books on the citrus industry and was a passionate collector of photography, books, historical records, crate labels, and films about citrus. In 1997, he was inducted into the Florida Citrus Hall of Fame for his many contributions to the industry. In 2001, a Florida House of Representatives resolution declared that his collection of citrus memorabilia would become the state's official archives of the citrus industry. Today, the Florida Citrus Archives are housed in FSC's Sarah D. and L. Kirk McKay, Jr., Archives Center. Professor Mack died in 2004 at the age of 90.
Dozens of Professor Mack's family members, former colleagues, and students attended the dedication ceremony to pay tribute to him. Dr. Curt Peterson, professor of citrus and horticultural science, said, "Lakeland is a more beautiful city because of the time he invested in it."
Dr. Dick Burnette, FSC's longest-serving faculty member, recalled Professor Mack driving by his colleagues' houses to analyze their lawns in an effort to beautify every corner of the city he loved. "He always admonished us to landscape in curves, never straight lines, and he said it was very important to talk to our plants, sometimes in Latin, and call them by their real, scientific names."