Transition: Remembering Mighty Mack

REMEMBERING “MIGHTY MACK” 

He was “mighty” in more ways than one. Mack S. Luchey, also known as “Mighty Mack,” was a savvy businessman who held it down as the iconic owner of Doris Records, the city’s oldest record store, for 56 years;. He was a prostate cancer survivor for 15 years who used his experience to help other men as a founding member of MAN UP, which stands for Men Allied for the Need to Understand Prostate Cancer. Young people were dear to his heart and he, along with the late Fred Foster, founded the annual Track and Field Classic now in its 20th year He was an unsung hero who constantly gave back to his community. The stories of Mack’s generosity and support are endless. “Mack helped a lot of people over the years,” his close friend and confident Joe ‘Dogman’ Myree recalled, ”but he never looked for praise and he never talked about it. He was a good man.” On January 26 “Mighty Mack” quietly and peacefully made his transition at home after a brief illness. He was young at heart. News of his death spread quickly.

The store was  swamped with calls of concern. “Mack knew everybody, and everybody knew Mack,” Joe continued.” He served generations of families with his music and it made him proud. He loved his people.” His Homegoing will be held on Saturday, February 3 at First Shiloh Baptist Church, 15 Pine Street. Viewing will be held from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Funeral services will begin at 1 p.m. In lieu of flowers, donations should go to the MAN UP program at Roswell Park Cancer Institute. -Humble beginnings- Born in McCormick, South Carolina, Mack migrated to Buffalo with his family as a young child. He was a graduate of Hutch Tech High School and later attended the University at Buffalo. He served his country in the U.S. Army at Fort Dix. Mack was always a hard worker and he once said that he never turned down an opportunity to work and make money.

He started working when he was just 11 years old. Mack wasn’t born with a silver spoon in his mouth and even picked beans, he once said, on a farm in the summertime. He laughed about out picking everybody, even the grown-ups.! He was “Mighty” even then. When Mack and his late wife Doris opened the E. Ferry Street store in 1962 , it was a big hit. At one point they had three other locations on the East side, but eventually closed them, keeping the Ferry Street store open. For the first decade or so Mack continued working as a UPS delivery truck driver and part time bartender. After they divorced in the mid-1970s Mack kept the business going. His work ethic went into overdrive when, in 1976, Record Theatre opened its doors. As smaller shops began closing, Mack dug in; using a combination of old school work ethic and street smarts to keep the competition in check. Even when he lost customers he never lost hope and he didn’t quit. When the huge Record Theatre chain closed its doors this past fall, Doris Records was still standing; mightly, yet humbly, taking care of business and riding the winds of change.

As the Industry evolved, Mack creatively made adjustments. Gone were the days of 45s, eight tracks and cassettes. CD’s and DVD are now barely holding their own. Doris became a hub for concert ticket sales and a fashion outlet. He admitted that the internet and downloadable music posed an even bigger challenge than the ’76 opening of Record theatre. Like the music, the neighborhood he was rooted in, also evolved. Mack watched as business after business closed along the once bustling Jefferson Avenue .

He was not “political” but clearly understood the impact politics and politicians without purpose and commitment, had on the Black community. He lived to at least see signs of progress returning to the corner and community he loved with the opening of Mandella Market, Boost Mobile, Solo Eats restaurant, an automatic car wash and The Ink Spot Copy and Printing store. -A Man of Strong Faith- When Mack was diagnosed with prostate cancer, he put his trust in God and continued to work, taking it “one day at a time.” Active in the MAN UP prostate cancer awareness advocacy group he helped found, he also shared his experience and personal story to his customers He said in a Roswell Park interview several years ago: “As a man in general, and as a person of color specifically, I truly believe we are obligated to ‘have each other’s back’ if presented with the challenge of cancer.” That was vintage Mack.

The commitment to his people went far beyond a single illness issue. Mack Luchey didn’t just talk the talk. He walked the walk…quietly and without fanfare. The industry, he would admit, had not been easy. “But I made it through with God’s help,” he once said. “ Between the peaks and valleys, God has always been there.” Mack has left the business in capable hands, dedicated to continuing his legacy and keeping Doris Records open.

The best way the community can honor his memory and show our love, is to patronize and support the institution that Mighty Mack built and maintained for almost 60 years. May his soul rest forever, in the Eternal Fields of Peace… -a.b.

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