The Rev. Randolph James Mack Sr., the pastor of New Beginning Bible Baptist Church in Northeast Baltimore and an award-winning martial arts practitioner, died of multiple organ failure Dec. 4 at Franklin Square Medical Center. The Rosedale resident was 64.
Born in Baltimore and raised on Gilmor Street in West Baltimore, he was the son of James Mack, a maintenance supervisor, and his wife Sadie, a homemaker. He was a graduate of Edmondson High School.
During his teenage years, he began training in martial arts and full-contact karate at a Gilmor Homes recreation center. He joined with other West Baltimore residents at the nearby St. Gregory the Great Roman Catholic Church and became a student at its St. Gregory Karate School.
“We were known for the azure blue robes we wore,” said James Boykins, a fellow martial arts contender and lifelong friend. “Randy was well respected, liked and loved. He was just a great martial artist. As a competitor, he was so devoted to the martial arts.”
Mr. Boykins said Mr. Mack competed in events in New Jersey, New York, Delaware, Maryland and Virginia as a middleweight and won a number of regional championships.
He was a member of the Professional Karate Association. He also trained in New York and at one time won a Northeast Championship title for his weight class.
Mr. Mack was nominated by the Professional Karate Association in 1982 for a Fighter of the Year award. He received a certificate of honor for his “contributions to martial arts.”
He later halted martial arts participation and confined his activity to teaching adults and children at the Lillian F. Jones Recreation Center on Stricker Street.
He began work at the Walter P. Carter Center in downtown Baltimore, then worked at the Maryland Rehabilitation Center on Argonne Drive and the Crownsville Hospital Center. At the time of his retirement, he was a work adjustment supervisor at Springfield Hospital Center.
In 1980 he joined Simmons Memorial Baptist Church, where he was an usher. In 1988 he joined Manna Bible Baptist Church and served as a youth Bible study teacher. Family members said he felt he had a calling to preach while attending the church.
While at the church he met his future wife, Rhonda Preston.
“I was sitting in church and he walked by and I waved at him. We later met a second time at the Baltimore School of the Bible,” she said.
In 1999 Mr. Mack joined Pilgrim’s Way Bible Baptist Church and received his license to preach on March 18, 2001. He was a 2005 graduate of the Baltimore School of the Bible.
Members of his congregation said Mr. Mack encouraged younger members of his church family.
“After he was called to preach the Gospel, he had a conviction that he was hurting his fellow man with martial arts,” his wife said. “He was tough on the inside and cool on the outside. He was the kind of man who could bring peace to a situation.”
The Rev. Raymond Thornton, Pilgrim Way’s pastor, said: “As a preacher, Randy made you stop and think. He would help you grasp issues. He took a strong stance on issues. He had a firm personality, and when he believed something, he stood by his convictions.”
Mr. Thornton also said, “He was a faithful person and when given a task, he would tackle it.”
Mr. Mack was also recalled for his ability to be a father figure to young people.
“Young people looked up to him,” Mr. Thornton said. “He projected that fatherly image that drew on the strength of his personality.”
On Nov. 19, 2006, the church Mr. Mack established, New Beginning Bible Baptist Church, held its first worship service at temporary quarters at the Sinclair Lane Elementary School.
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Frances Carr, a former member of the church, said, “Pastor Mack was a God-fearing man. ... He was very faithful in serving his congregation.”
In 2007 he led his congregation to a new home at 3030 Edison Highway, where a church building was dedicated.
Family members said his favorite hymn was “We’re Marching to Zion.”
His wife said her husband remained a fighter during his illness.
“He remained a fighter and was determined to recover,” she said.
Survivors include his wife of 33 years, a para-teacher at Fullerton Elementary School; four sons, Randy Mack Jr., Mannuel Mack and Daniel Mack, all of Baltimore, and Jonathan Mack of Glen Burnie; a daughter, Elizabeth Mack of Baltimore; two sisters. Ruby Cofield and April Brown, both of Baltimore; three brothers, Roy Mack, Ernest Mack and John Mack, all of Baltimore; and six grandchildren.
A funeral was held Dec. 14.