The Mayor of the city of Yakima, Kathy Coffey, is officially proclaiming Tuesday, September 19, 2017, Hanshi Morris Mack Day.
Northwest Martial Arts pioneer, Morris Lane “Sensei” Mack, 78 of Yakima passed away peacefully Monday, August 14th, at Cottage in the Meadow.
He is survived by the love of his life of more than 42 years, Karilee “Kara” Mack, 4 daughters, a son and their spouses from his previous marriage, Melanie Mack, Stephanie (Howard) Schwartz, Heidi (David) Benoit, Wendy (Carey) Magruder, Marlin (Carrie) Mack; daughter Kim Mack and son Adam (Shelly) Mack with his wife Kara, 14 grandchildren; 6 great-grandchildren; sister, Sharon Liddell; step brothers and sister, Daryl (Pat) Jonson, Kent (Janet) Jonson, and Barbara Pick.
Morris was born in New Salem, ND August 31, 1938. As a young boy, his family moved to Richland, WA. where he attended school, and was active in Baseball and Basketball. He soon discovered one of his many lifelong passions: singing. He was an avid vocalist performing in Mixed Chorus, Ensemble, and Quartet. He loved singing throughout his life and recently sang the National Anthem at a Karate tournament with his friend and student, the late Roger Stansbury.
At the age of 13, after a lot of prayer, Morris got his 1st motorcycle. Prayer and riding motorcycles became more lifelong passions. Even after several bad accidents over the years, including catching fire and spending months in the hospital, he couldn’t resist riding. He and Kara rode countless miles taking trips to Mexico, North Dakota, and an annual trip through the Redwoods, to name a few.
Living in the Tri-Cities after WWII and the Korean War, Morris was fortunate to be exposed to a variety of Martial Arts practiced by returning servicemen. He began training in Judo before a chance discovery where he saw a demonstration of a Martial Art just making its way into the US: Karate.
At 6’4”, Morris was not built for Judo but saw that he could use his long limbs to attack opponents from outside their own range. Karate was a natural fit and he was hooked for life.
After High School, Morris worked as a draftsman for Boeing in Moses Lake before moving into the grocery business. While managing a store in Spokane, he was offered an opportunity of relocating to Yakima or Eugene. The weather in Yakima better suited his love of riding motorcycle.
He managed the Red Apple Market on 5th Ave (URM) until his father/best friend moved to Yakima and the two opened Double M Market in Gleed. Double M continued to grow and soon Morris and his father built a new, larger store allowing him to open the “Gleed Dojo” in the original Double M.
The students and stories from that Dojo (training space) are legendary. It was there he began to see that the art of Karate was much more than just “kicking and punching”, as Morris would say, and that the life lessons that came along with Karate could change lives beyond his own.
Sensei (Teacher) began teaching Karate in1961. And while his early Dojos were modest, he was soon teaching at the YMCA, the Women’s Century Club, as well as for the Yakima Police and Sheriff’s Departments. YVC was another instrumental location in Sensei’s life.
For 30 years he taught Karate in Sherar Gym. He and Kara’s annual Karate tournament, one of the Northwest’s oldest, The Central Washington Karate Championships has been held there for 40 years. Sensei hosted countless seminars by Martial Arts Masters from all over the world and also held his own promotional “celebrations” or tests in the gym.
The most important moment in his life came while teaching at YVC: the day Kara walked in. He often described the first time he saw her, saying that his heart stopped, causing him to clutch his chest as he gasped for air! He taught his students to never become complacent about the important things: to savor life and love. He always said he still felt the exact feeling in his heart and chest every time he saw Kara, just like the first time he saw her. For the rest of his life, the two were virtually inseparable in work or play. Common knowledge was Kara ran the business so Sensei could “play”, which is how he viewed Karate. Their devotion to each other was as inspirational as Sensei’s many sayings and koans.
Sensei won countless Karate Tournaments throughout North America competing in Kata, Weapons, and Sparring and developed great friendships with many co-competitors. His lifelong training also led to promotions including Shihan (Master Instructor), Renshi (Warrior in Training), Hanshi (Grand Master) and was recently awarded 10th Degree Black Belt (Jūdan), the highest rank in Karate.
While teaching, competing and continuing his own insatiable learning of Karate, Sensei also pursued another great passion: travel. He and Kara visited most of their student’s schools (nearly 30) multiple times a year. In their free time, they traveled all over the world. They explored more than 20 countries and 30 islands, many by motorcycle. When asked what he enjoyed most while traveling, Sensei quipped “Kata” which he loved doing in the warm, clear Caribbean.
Morris is preceded in death by his father and stepmother, Reinhold Phillip (Florence) Mack and his mother and stepfather Pearl (George) Hartmann.
A celebration of his life will be held Saturday, Sept. 16th, at Holy Family Church, at 10am. Memorial donations may be made to the American Shudokan Association (ASA). A 501(c)(3), the ASA was created by Morris and Kara 29 years ago. Awarding $1000. to graduating Black Belts, to date the ASA has awarded $289,000 in college scholarships