Professor Emeritus Thomas B. Mack of Florida Southern College was a veritable Florida institution. In his long career at Florida Southern, Mack taught thousands of students and designed nearly as many landscapes. He wrote extensively in the areas of citrus culture and landscape architecture and was the founder and long-time curator of the Thomas B. Mack Citrus Archives housed at Florida Southern College. His students, and students of his students, have established successful careers in horticulture and landscape design throughout the United States, as well as abroad.
Mack was born on October 27, 1914 in Orangeburg, South Carolina. He moved with his family to Florida in 1921, first settling in Wauchula and later in Plant City. After graduating from the local high school in 1933, Mack began his studies at the University of Florida. He was forced to drop out in 1937 when he could no longer afford the tuition. The Great Depression, marriage, and World War II combined to prevent Mack from returning to college until 1946. He finally earned a degree in agriculture from the University of Florida in 1947.
After graduation, Mack began working for the Florida Department of Education, training veterans for careers in the citrus industry. He accepted an invitation to join the faculty of Florida Southern College in 1951. Almost immediately, he was given the responsibility for planning landscapes to complement the buildings world renowned architect Frank Lloyd Wright was designing for the college. Mack went on to provide the designs for much of the college's landscape over the next thirty years.
His interest in the citrus industry led Mack to create a comprehensive citrus archives at Florida Southern. The collection was named the Thomas B. Mack Citrus Archives in his honor and it was designated as the official state citrus archives for Florida in 2001. When the college created the Florida Citrus Institute in 1971, it named Mack as the first director. He held that title until his retirement in 1981.
Though officially retired, Mack remained active as a teacher and researcher at Florida Southern College, and developed a small landscape design business. He provided landscape designs for a number of commercial and residential projects throughout Polk County. The records in this collection were generated as a result of that business.
Thomas Mack died in Lakeland in December 2004 at the age of 90.