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Gary Mack's wife, Rena, dies

Daily Herald
Friends remember longtime fixture in DuPage government, civic life
By Elisabeth Mistretta | Daily Herald Staff
Published: 7/13/20 3:22 PM | Updated: 7/13/2010 3:22 PM

As a longtime fixture in DuPage County government and civic life, Rena Mack made the most of her opportunities to inspire others.

In fact, the people closest to the Woodridge woman almost all reach for the same word to describe her: "positive."

"One of her hallmarks was (the idea) that, when people are trying to affect change, you only focus on the positive," said Gary Mack, her husband of 32 years. "Her theory was, 'Let's talk about what's good and build upon that.'"

Mack, 58, died at home Sunday morning surrounded by family, after battling brain cancer for two years.

Since 2005, Mack served as director of communications and leadership development for Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in Naperville, where she was a longtime member. Before that she was a press secretary for the Illinois Toll Highway Authority and the DuPage County Board.

Good Shepherd Pastor Glen Wagner said Mack always took a "people-sensitive" approach to her work, which included recruiting and training church volunteers and leaders.

"She was a very constructively positive individual and always wanted to make sure what she was doing was really helping people," Wagner said.

Wagner recalled a church retreat where Mack created a project that required participants to design bracelets made of prayer beads.

"I have a corporate background and am very left-brained, so this was foreign to me," Wagner said. "But I still have that bracelet on my desk and use it. She was good at drawing people into experiences. Even if they were leery, they would always say 'Boy, Rena, I'm so happy you helped me see things differently.'"

But before moving to Woodridge in 1991, Mack spent the majority of her career as an elementary school teacher for 20 years, first in her native Nebraska and then in Springfield, where she moved shortly after marrying Gary.

Gary Mack said he was overwhelmed with the outpouring of support from many of her former students.

"It's just incredible how much they love her, even 25 years after she taught some of them," Mack said.

During her free time, Mack loved skiing with her husband, devouring books and spending time with her family that includes her daughter, Lindsay Mack, and sons Andrew and Peter Mack.

"She was absolutely the best wife a man could ask for and an even better mother to our children," said Gary. "She really was something else."

In lieu of flowers, memorials can be send to the Musella Foundation for Brain Tumor Research, 1100 Peninsula Blvd., Hewlett, NY 11557, or ELCA Global Mission (in the memo: "Salud Para la Vida"), 8765 W. Higgins Road, Chicago, IL 60631 or to Lutheran World Relief (memo: Rena Mack), P.O. Box 17061 Baltimore, MD 21298-9832.

Visitation will be from 4 to 9 p.m. Thursday at Friedrich-Jones Funeral Home, 44 S. Mill St., Naperville. An additional visitation will be from 10 to 11 a.m. Friday at Good Shepherd Lutheran Church, 1310 Shepherd Drive, Naperville. Funeral services will follow at 11 a.m. at the church. Interment will be at Naperville Cemetery.

For details, call (630) 355-0213 or visit

Steve.Scott's picture

I'm very sorry to hear of Rena's death. Condolences to Gary, his family and his friends.

Steve Scott, News Anchor
WCBS Newsradio 880
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