Mack Vinson was born September 26, 1929, to Claudia McKinney and Charles Oscar Vinson in Halltown, Ala., and died Wednesday, June 1, 2011, at Floyd E. "Tut" Fann State Veterans Home. After graduating as Valedictorian from Red Bay High School in 1947, he attended Athens State College until his 1433rd Engineering Battalion of the National Guard was sent to Korea. When returning, Vinson completed his Business Administration degree in 1953, also as Valedictorian. While working at Redstone Arsenal and MSFC in Personnel for 20 years, he completed an MA degree at The University of Alabama in 1972, following that, Vinson had additional graduate studies with The University of Oklahoma. Married to Ruth McBride in 1956, two daughters were born, Nancy and Elizabeth. Following the untimely death of Ruth in 1973, the family continued living in Hillsboro. Nancy graduated from Vanderbilt, University of Alabama, and married Richard Edwards of Gardendale. Elizabeth married Chuck Yates of Falkville.
Professionally, Vinson was President of ASPA at MSFC, Vice-Commander of the American Legion, Post 15, and was a leader in Veterans of Foreign Wars, Sons of the Confederacy, DAV, VFW, Korean War Veterans, Civitan, Decatur Historical Society, Alabama State Guard, Athens State Alumni Board (10 years), and The University of Alabama Alumni Association. Honored in 1996 as the Most Distinguished Graduate of Athens State, Vinson also received their "Loyalty" Award in 1997. In 2006, Vinson was honored by the Sons of Confederate Veterans in 2008 with the War Service Medal.
In 1978, Mack was one of the selected delegates to participate in the ASPA Study Tour of China and one year later married another delegate, Dr. Dorothy Riggs, a representative of San Diego State ASPA. Loaned to the United Nations in New York City that same year, Vinson was later awarded a 25 year retirement from MSFC to become a contract consultant for the UN and its agencies. From 1980 to 2005, he had contracts with African Development Bank, ECA, UNESCO, UNICEF, FAO, UNDP, UNFPA, EDLA, ECWA, UNWRA, ILO, Greek National Bank, and the country of Bhutan. While traveling through 41 countries on five continents, he served in official capacities in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia; Abidjan, Ivory Coast; Geneva, Switzerland; Jakarta, Indonesia; Lusaka, Zambia; Santiago, Chili; Vienna, Austria; Rome, Italy; Paris, France; Baghdad, Iraq; Athens, Greece; Bhutan, Washington, D.C.; Montreal, Canada; and New York City.
He is survived by his wife of 32 years, Dorothy Riggs Vinson; two daughters, Nancy (Richard) Edwards of Evansville, Ind., and Elizabeth Yates (Chuck) of Hartselle; three grandsons, Adam Yates (Misty) of Decatur, Drew Yates (Lori) of Hartselle and John Edwards of Tuscaloosa; plus six great-grandchildren, Kaitlyn, Blakely, McKenna, Miles, Noah and Wyatt; three sisters, Nell Blackerby and Martha Oliver of Birmingham, and Sue Patterson (Dave) of Dalton, Ga., and one brother, Phillip Vinson (Carolyn) of Phil Campbell; and sisters-in-law, Kathleen McBride and Charlotte Clark. Preceding him in death are five siblings, Dorothy Helms of Red Bay, Gwen Crawford of Erick, Okla., Ramon, Harold and Ross Vinson.
Visitation will be tonight from 6 to 8 at Ridout's Brown-Service Funeral Home. Service will be Saturday, June 4, 2011,at 3:00 at First Presbyterian Church with the Rev. Phillip Vinson, Charles Smith and Dr. V. Don Haas officiating. Burial will follow at the McBride Family Cemetery in Hillsboro.
Memorials may be made to Athens College Foundation, American Parkinson Disease Association or a charity of your choice.