Sally Mack
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1933 - 2016
In June 1986, Sally Mack, clasping hands with her husband and sons, walked onto the Nevada Test Site to protest the US government's nuclear weapons testing program. They and 144 others were arrested for trespassing, for which Sally spent 5 days in jail. It was a consummate moment in Sally's life, uniting her two strongest impulses – love for those closest to her and a commitment to making the world better for everyone. Later she wrote that what enabled her to convert her fear into action was "sharing the fear and love and conviction of hundreds of wonderful people, and especially my own family."

Born May 19, 1933 to Julius and Mary Stahl, Sally grew up in Oil City, PA, in one of the few Jewish families in town. During WWII, a friend told her, "My mother says if Germany wins we can't be friends anymore." Yet she overcame her outsider status – getting elected as her high school's beauty queen, winning the Emily Post Good Manners award, and editing the school newspaper.

In 1955, after graduating from the University of Michigan, Sally went to the newly created state of Israel as part of a Quaker work camp, working alongside Arabs and Jews and developing a lifelong commitment to bridging their divide. Later, she earned her masters in social work, and began her career in Boston, where she met Dr. John Mack, whom she married in 1959. They raised three sons in Brookline, MA, where they lived until their separation in 1993. Dr. Mack became a renowned Harvard psychiatrist and Pulitzer Prize-winning author.

Sally was known as an exceptional social worker who combined deep empathy with an incisive analytical mind. She focused on families of young children, tackling such difficult issues as child sexual abuse and terminally ill children. She was the only social worker on the neonatal intensive care unit at Boston's Children's Hospital, where she one of the first to advocate for the rights of parents of premature babies. She became a sought-after national leader, chairing the National Association of Perinatal Social Workers' social action committee, and in 1997 winning the organization's Award for Excellence. She later co-founded the Schwartz Center at Mass. General Hospital, dedicated to the importance of compassionate healthcare for both patients and caregivers, which now exists in 375 hospitals nationwide.

Relationships mattered most to Sally, and in return she garnered deep devotion from family, friends, and colleagues. She always listened with full attention and curiosity, offering insight without judgment, and with genuine caring and compassion. Countless younger friends found in her the mother they wished they'd had. For younger women she was a role model, thanks to her ability to combine nurturing relationships, an accomplished career, and impassioned activism, all with utter humility and authenticity.

Sally leaves three sons, Danny, Ken and Tony Mack; four grandchildren, Ari, Cai, Leila and Eric; a devoted partner, Irving Exter; and innumerable friends and family members. For information about services and more, go to:

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Published in New York Times from Mar. 30 to Mar. 31, 2016.
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Memories & Condolences
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8 entries
March 22, 2020
And still, Ms Sally, I feel your presence, speak out loud or silently to you. I'm thankful you do not have to endure our current health crisis. Yet I know you would, even as an elder like me, you would help in your own inimitable way.

I cannot edit you out of my phone, emails, etc. You are here and I am grateful.
Pam Dugas
March 22, 2019
Days and months and years pass, and still I talk to Sally, or question: "What would Sally say?" A monumental influence in my life, a deeply missed anchor. Yet, not gone, never forgotten, a presence forever!
Pam Dugas
May 14, 2016
Pam and grandkids
I feel so lucky to have known Sally Mack. There are people who come into your life and change it irrevocably.
Pam Dugas
April 22, 2016
The Brody/Weaver Family
Sally was such an inspiration to me when I had been married his cousin, Larry.
I had been blessed to have both Sally and her brother, Irving, to brunch in our home when our eldest daughter got married. It was such a wonderful memorable day.

She was openly caring and she will always been missed by me.

Jo Anne (Brody) Weaver
Jo Anne (Brody) Weaver
April 3, 2016
Tony,I am so sorry about your mom. I had no idea she will ill. I worked at the Schwartz Center for many years (I am Ken Schwartz's sister in law). Your mom was key in starting and facilitating the Schwartz Center Rounds at MGH Cancer Center. I worked closely with her and had great respect and affection for her. She also helped train facilitators across the country who were starting Rounds in new hospitals. She was so bright and thoughtful. My sincere condolences to you and your family.
Margie Stanzler
March 31, 2016
Although we haven't seen Sally for a long time--she was always a role model of a first cousin for me. Her Dad, Uncle Julius, and my farher were brothers. I spoke to her abot a year ago and she seemed happy with her life at the time. Please accept my husand's and my deepest sympathy. We would love to be in touch with you all.Fondly Sheila & Sandy Routh
March 31, 2016
Sally was not only a cousin but my inspiration to go into Social Work with handicapped children. She will be missed.
Nancy and Herb Stein
March 30, 2016
My deepest condolences to you and your family,
Psalm 100:5... Speaks about how good Our Heavenly Father is, it tells us that his love is and endures forever...and his faithfulness continues through all generations. So, is it a wonder where we learn to love. know that your one love is love by the Most High.
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