Talks family, medical practice and progress in Longview, Texas

Says, “I enjoy my Mayoral responsibilities each day that I am able to do something and make a positive change in Longview. When I see positive things happening in our community, that in and of itself is gratification, and I am very humbled to be the Mayor of this great city.”

by Joycelyne Fadojutimi

Dr. Andy Mack’s family is of Lebanese ancestry, yet they are deeply ingrained as a fixture here in Deep East Texas. He and wife Kelly are coming up on their 35th wedding anniversary, and this union has produced three children–Spencer, Madison and Luke. Even though Andy and Kelly both lived in Longview, they met while attending school in Dallas. The love holding them together is a powerful blessing.
“She has always been my rock, and keeps me grounded,” he says. “Her faith is so strong, and it strengthens me to have such a wonderful Christian wife by my side.”
Andy’s father, Dr. Sam Mack, was a great influence in guiding his son to a career that has blessed both the family and community. His splendid sire taught Andy strength, compassion, how to live a life pleasing to the Holy Spirit, and how to properly raise children. Dr. Sam’s busy lifestyle as a medical practitioner and head of an oral surgery practice never stopped him from being a hands-on, positive influence.
Dr. Sam even made time to serve as the Longview Lobos’ team physician, to work with the Longview Chamber of Commerce, on bank boards and various other civic endeavors even as he never missed games, practices or sundry events. He was always where he was needed. His heritage taught him that being a blessing to those around him is also a personal blessing.
His immigrant parents settled in Marshall when they were fourteen and fifteen. Dr. Sam attended Marshall High School before attending college, medical and dental school to become double degreed as both a medical doctor and Doctor of Dental Surgery. He practiced 37 years in Longview, earning quite a reputation as a healer.
“There isn’t a day that goes by that someone doesn’t come to my office and say, ‘Was your dad Sam Mack?’ Then they tell me what he did for them. He was that kind of person, and he was that kind of dad.”
Andy’s mother Joan was a doting mom who loved to give her children not only what they needed, but what they wanted. He describes her as a “wonderful influence” who let her children do things they hoped dad would not find out about. A native of Commerce, Texas, she was a gifted singer and musician, but Andy ruefully notes how he did not inherit her rhythmic abilities.
Andy was ten when his stepmother Marian joined the family and became what he calls a “rock in our upbringing.” An Ohio native, she knew nothing about southern cuisine, never having even heard of chicken fried steak. Still, to this day her stepson looks on her as a blessed and positive influence. He credits his three parents for his and his brothers’ success. Father Sam, though, pointed the way.
“I don’t care what you do in your life, but whatever you do, do it the best you can,” Dr. Sam told his boys. “If you’re going to dig a ditch, dig it straight, and be proud of what you’ve done.”
His sons absorbed his allegiance to the Golden Rule, and to this day they treat others exactly how they themselves want to be treated, and never consider themselves better that anyone. They also are proud of and cling to their roots.
“I’ve always said my family could be on that program My Big Fat Greek Wedding, but it would be called My Big Fat Lebanese Wedding because we are Lebanese,” Andy says. “We love our middle eastern culture and our middle eastern heritage.”
To this day the Macks, practice the middle eastern custom of visiting each other’s homes for a traditional Sunday Lunch. Even during his college days at Stephen F. Austin University, Andy would drive home to dine with his loved ones on Sundays. Besides the delectable menu, he loved coming home.
While growing up in Longview, he attended a series of schools in the Longview Independent School District. He started at Mozelle Johnston, moved on to Bramlette, Judson, Forest Park and then Longview High School, graduating in 1978. His next stop was Kilgore College, where he mastered the transition from public school to higher education. Next came two years at Stephen F. Austin to major in biology and minor in chemistry. He graduated Magna Cum Laude and headed for Baylor Dental School in Dallas where he pulled down his dental degree in four years, graduating with high scholastic honors. Next came surgical training at the University of Texas Medical Center in Houston. At this world’s largest medical center, he spent four more years learning to be an oral and maxillofacial surgeon. He earned his surgery accreditation in 1989 and became a board certified oral and maxillofacial surgeon.
“I graduated June 30, 1989, and I started my first day of practice in Longview on July 1, 1989,” he says. “This summer I finished my 30th year practicing in Longview.” There is much more.
He loves working in a community whose people need, appreciate and support him. It is a case of someone loving his job so much he does not even consider it working. He adores his office staff and how they keep him grounded, on task and on time. Since he also serves as Longview’s mayor, they assist him with scheduling his civic responsibilities, making sure that as he is pulled in many directions, he can accommodate all those who rely on his flawless expertise. Again, his father’s influence is vital and ever-present.
“When I started my practice on July 1, 1989 my dad came into my office and sat down in the chair in front of me and said these very simple words, ‘Son, I’m proud of you and hope you have a long, prosperous career here in town. I have spent 37 years building our reputation in the community. Don’t ruin that in one day. Not in any one day!,” says Andy. “I will never forget that because he looked me in the eyes and clearly communicated to me to do what I knew was right, and not stray into things I knew I shouldn’t do.”
Andy has spent thirty years with East Texas Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery Associates. He originally partnered with Dr. David Haverkom and Dr. Jay Gordon, who had been collaborating for years before Andy’s return to Longview. Haverkom retired in 2006, and Gordon retired in 2013. Dr. Andy Mack has spent the past six years working with Dr. Chris Johnson. Mack is certain he has his priorities straight and is answering his true calling.
“I chose this career because it’s really what I saw growing up,” he says. “In the era that I grew up we were able to go with my dad to the hospital.”
He watched his father sew up lacerated patients, cut sutures, make rounds and go on house calls. The halls of Good Shepherd Hospital were a second home for him as he would sometimes even assist his father in treating patients.
“We didn’t have the legal issues back then that we have today,” he says. “Malpractice wasn’t prevalent.”
Nowadays legalities have essentially ended such hands-on learning, but as Andy grew up, he and his siblings loved being a part of their father’s work as they followed in his footsteps and learned the priceless art of healing. Andy’s older brother Chris is a general dentist, and younger brother Ben is a general surgeon. They all do a great job of filling dad’s big shoes. Andy is expert at his personal specialty.
Oral and maxillofacial surgeons tend to disorder of the jaw, head and neck, essentially everything from the brain to the shoulders. Like all those of his calling, Mack performs a great deal of reconstructive procedures and trauma treatment. Car crashes, shootings, sports injuries and interpersonal violence send many patients his way. Young ladies hurt in cheerleading accidents constantly need his care.
“I see more broken noses from cheerleading than from anything else,” he says.
Baseball, basketball and football players beat a path to his office. He also performs many facial reconstructions and cosmetic operations on persons born with developmental deficiencies in which their jaws do not form and grow properly. Mack works with orthodontists to realign jaws so that teeth are properly placed. These patients come away with jaws that both look and work much better. He does considerable cosmetic surgery using Botox, Restylane and fillers. Of course, there are such dental procedures as removal of wisdom teeth and non-restorable teeth, pathology, cancer biopsies and dental implants. These constitute a huge percentage of his practice, and he performs them daily. His patients rarely feel pain.
“I am fortunate to be able to provide my own anesthesia because my training allows me to provide office anesthesia,” he says.
He starts IVs and medications for his patients and monitoring them in his clinic with the same equipment used in hospitals. Those being treated find this reassuring and comfortable. They rarely even remember the procedure, and leave the office healed and highly satisfied. These treatments in an office setting are quicker and less expensive that having the same treatment performed in a hospital. Even so, he still sometimes works in hospitals on major cases.
“Most people don’t understand what a maxillofacial surgeon does, and that’s OK with me as long as they keep coming to me with their needs,” he says. “I’m happy to take care of them.”
Due to the extent of their training, maxillofacial surgeons are among the most skilled of all health providers. They are meticulously trained in the dental field, medical field and surgical field to perform a wide and varied set of procedures. Most contemporary residencies have a six-year residency training program in which doctors receive double degrees as MD and DDS. They come away from this program very well trained and highly competent. Moreover, they must be industrious. Especially Dr. Andy Mack.
“I usually get to my office about 7:00am and do paperwork, charts, look at x-rays, write letters, thank-you notes, personal correspondence to patients, and my day typically begins at 8:00am with my first surgery patient,” he says.
He will perform from ten to twenty-five surgeries daily in his office, most lasting fifteen to twenty minutes. After his patients spend some post-procedure time in the recovery room, they go home. Mack usually calls it a day between 5:00pm to 5:30pm.
“It’s a long day, but I enjoy it,” he says.
It is important to note, he manages his healing tasks despite repeated daily interruptions because of his responsibilities as Longview’s mayor. He scrupulously attends to his civic duties even if meetings and issues fill his lunch hour. He reserves Wednesday afternoons (and sometimes all of Wednesdays) to see to his city business. He meets with his city manager and various departments requiring his attention. His splendid medical office staff expertly arrange his medical schedule so that he is available for political matters. Because of Longview’s use of the city manager form of government, the job of mayor is not full-time. The city manager deals with many functions that in some cities would be the mayor’s job.
“I have been very fortunate to have worked with two wonderful city managers during my tenure as mayor: David Willard and now Keith Bonds,” he says. “I love when I get to collaborate with them on ideas and implementing projects to improve Longview.”
This setup and the competence of his colleagues means that Mack has never had to miss a day of political work, or mayoral events and obligations. His dedication to his patients and constituents is total because they are one and the same. He serves them as they deserve and need to be treated from his positions as an elected official and healer.
Moreover, he absolutely loves his jobs. Treating his patients in any way, whether a simple extraction or a full facial reconstruction gives him a fulfillment that comes only to those dedicated to helping others, and his medical and political labors are both centered around this philosophy. He aims to keep helping those around him for many more years as he strives to heal medical problems and make Longview a better place for its people. For him, achieving positive civic change is both humbling and gratifying. Still, his political work is not all fun and games.
Sometimes he receives unpleasant phone calls from the police and fire department. Some catastrophe would have taken place requiring his immediate attention, but of course this is inevitable.
“That is part of the job, and we are fortunate to have such great chiefs in both police and fire department who are able to manage those situations,” he says. But that is not all.
Contrastingly, there are aspects of his medical practice that are not enjoyable. Being on call is demanding and intense because it means someone is in desperate, immediate need of his care. It usually comes during the dead of night.
“When I first started, I was on call every third week for both hospitals: Good Shepherd and Longview Regional,” he says. “During that time, I would treat a lot of traumatic injuries and infections.”
Mack knows where to look for guidance, ability and strength.
His faith in Jesus Christ is the most important part of his varied life. He knows his Lord and Savior will always be there for him the way he is always there for his patients and constituents. His love of God leaves him wondering how anyone can live without the Savior’s influence and salvation. Growing up in the Baptist church in Longview taught him that the Almighty is in control of everything.
“There is no luck. There is no coincidence. There is no chance,” he says. “It is all planned, and miracles happen every day, and I believe in those miracles.”
Along with wife Kelly, he has raised his children in a loving, Christian environment, teaching them that hard work leads to great reward. Those that the Lord gives much, will be required to give much in exchange. Andy Mack’s soaring and many skills are gifts from above and are now being used to bless those around this child of God. His priorities are on the straight and narrow as he gives back to his community from the blessings, he himself has received. He never stops working to make his home an even better place.
In 1995, he ran for District 4 city councilman on the advice of the late Earl Roberts. Mack won and spent the next nine years representing District 4. Next came a decade-long break from politics until 2015, when he successfully ran for mayor. He describes his position as “one of the most rewarding things I have ever done.” There is no mistaking his devotion to making Longview an East Texas shining star.
His achieved goal remains to make Longview, Texas, a community whose young people will not feel the need to go elsewhere for success but will make their homes and careers here. Several young professionals are making Longview their homes including his daughter Dr. Spencer and her husband Dr. Andrew Hansen run a local orthodontics practice: Mack and Hansen Orthodontics. Another daughter, Dr. Madison Mack is a general dentist. She practices with her father’s older brother Dr. Chris Mack at Mack and Mack Dentistry. Son Luke Mack is studying to be an oral and maxillofacial surgeon at LSU Medical Center in Shreveport. When his education is complete, he plans to come home and go into business at his dad’s practice. Their father’s campaign to provide local opportunity is doing great.
“My goal as mayor is to make Longview an attractive place for young people, and I think we have done that,” he says. “We are seeing more and more young people come back to Longview to make it their home, and I think that is super important for growing and maintaining a viable, vibrant city.”
The jobs his administration have created and the industry that has arrived and rescued Longview from its long dependence on the oil and gas industry. This diversification means that downturns can be survived and recovered from. The fruits of this situation are evident as sales tax revenues have rebounded, and the local economy is on the upswing. This is what His Honor Andy Mack intended when he became mayor. Even the city’s crime rate has sharply declined since his election. He considers it all more of a blessing than an accomplishment.
“I consider myself the luckiest man on Earth,” he says.