John Mack Prescott
Passed away on April 7, 2019
John Mack Prescott was born in San Marcos, Texas to John M. and Maude Raborn Prescott on January 22, 1921 and died in Bryan, Texas on April 7, 2019. He received a BS degree from Southwest Texas State College, a Masters degree from Texas A&M University, and a PhD degree from the University of Wisconsin. He was proudest of his degree from A&M and was wearing his ring when he died. He epitomized the creed of Soldier, Statesman, Knightly Gentleman.
Prescott flew reconnaissance missions over Japan during World War II and subsequently was an officer in United States Air Force Reserves ultimately at the rank of Lieutenant Colonel.
He had a distinguished career at Texas A&M as a professor, department chair, Dean of Science, and Vice President for Academic Affairs (now the Chief Academic Officer/Provost). He was honored to have been selected (sometimes he said “coerced”) into the Dean position by President Earl Rudder who was leading a charge to make A&M into a nationally renowned institution. In these roles, Prescott recruited talented academics in many fields who brought distinction to the University. To encourage top students to attend the university, he started a program to award scholarships to National Merit finalists. And to pay for these initiatives, he worked to achieve legislation that allowed a portion of the Permanent School Fund to be spent on academic programs. After years of leadership roles Prescott took a sabbatical leave at Harvard Medical School, returned to his laboratory, and secured a new grant from the National Institutes of Health. Through the years he had many talented research students and he took pride in their subsequent diverse, myriad accomplishments. His scientific work brought recognition by membership in several learned societies. In all of his efforts he was known for demanding excellence, most of all from himself, and treating everyone fairly.
Prescott was an advocate for excellent teaching and this was a theme when he was appointed by Governor Mark White to the Texas State Board of Education in 1984. His efforts in this reform initiative won him acclaim from many organizations and he made life-long friends with other members of the board. Certainly part of his dedication to excellence in teaching came from his respect for his mother, a high school English teacher. His many achievements resulted in the honor of being named a Distinguished Alumnus of Southwest Texas State (now Texas State University) in 1983, and having an award presented in his name in A&M’s Department of Biochemistry & Biophysics. The Association of Former Students in 1985 awarded him their prize for excellence in administration with the citation that, “it was during his tenure as vice president that Texas A&M emerged as one of the nation’s great institutions of higher learning.”
When asked about his greatest accomplishment Prescott said, “family.” He and Kathryn (Kitty) Kelly were married in 1946 and celebrated 70 years together several months before her death in December 2016. They were devoted and supportive parents of two sons, Stephen M. (Susan) of Oklahoma City and Donald W. (Anne) of College Station. They had four grandchildren: Allison (Jeremiah) Redstone of New York City, John (Sheila) of Austin, and Gareth and Stephen of College Station: and three great granddaughters: Ruby and Lily Redstone of New York City, and Isabella Prescott of Austin. Prescott was a loving uncle to the children of his late brother, Martin: Cathy (Mike) Smith, and Bob Prescott both of Friendswood. Mack and Kitty traveled extensively, often to celebrate holidays, weddings, anniversaries and other events with family. They taught lessons of love and support—lessons delivered by example.
Prescott served the Bryan/College Station community through positions in organizations ranging from banks to churches. He was a long time member of First Baptist Church of Bryan, then First Presbyterian, and was an occasional worshiper at Saint Thomas Episcopal, particularly when his grandsons were acolytes. He and Kitty were committed to a strong spiritual life which they observed with prayer, worship, study of scripture, reading of theological works, and sacred music.
He loved the outdoors life and was an avid hunter, traveling regularly with a group of friends, their sons, and ultimately grandsons. He relished an evening around a campfire reviewing the day’s events or solving the problems of the world—activities that were far more important than the actual hunting. In his retirement he was fortunate to find another great passion and became an accomplished woodworker and maker of fine furniture, examples of which grace homes across the country.
His life in the past few years was enriched by the loving care he received from Ruby Jackson and other wonderful caregivers, the outstanding attention to medical affairs by Dr. David Hackethorn, and spiritual support from Reverends Bob Leslie and Ted Foote
Mack Prescott’s long life was well lived and he leaves a legacy of service to his family, church, community, university, state and nation.
A memorial service will be held at 2:30 p.m. Saturday, April 13 in the Arbor Oaks Chapel at Crestview. Mack will be laid to rest at a later date at College Station Cemetery.
In lieu of flowers memorials may be made to Hospice Brazos Valley.
- MEMORIAL SERVICE Saturday, April 13, 2019
John Mack Prescott
April 9, 2019
It was my honor to work with Dr. Prescott beginning in 1977. He was a consummate academic in addition to being such a wonderful person. I will always cherish the time we worked together