Robert Whitcomb Sumner-Mack ’56

Robert Whitcomb Sumner-Mack, 78, of Hilo, Hawaii (formerly of Rochester) passed away December 11, following cardiac arrest, at Hilo Medical Center. Born in Richmond, Va., to Henry and Margaret Mack, he attended Davidson College, studied pediatrics at the University of Pennsylvania, and earned an MPh from Johns Hopkins in maternal and child health before serving as a U.S. Army physician in France.

His grandparents were medical missionaries in China, his parents missionaries in the Philippines. He taught nutrition and public health at Christian Medical College in Vellore, India, and at the University of Pennsylvania. He directed health planning projects in Africa and Asia for USAID, UNDP, and the World Bank, and he assisted local physician Richard Roy in his practice in 1989.

He was a Master Gardener and avid beekeeper, an activist on environmental and public health issues, and volunteer for Hospice, Boys and Girls Club, Hilo Public Library, Lyman Museum, and Nation Discussion Group.

 Survived by wife of 30 years Nan McCowan Sumner-Mack of Hilo, daughters Laura Mack and Danielle Mack Francis of Philadelphia, and stepson Drew Vaughan Sumner of San Diego. Local in-laws include LaVona P. McCowan (mother-in-law) of Dover, John and Giselle McCowan of Rochester, and Bruce and Michelle McCowan of Farmington. Numerous nieces and nephews.

Private scattering of ashes planned next summer on the Maine Coast.

One Reply to “Robert Whitcomb Sumner-Mack ’56”

  1. Bob and I were classmates at Davidson (Class of 1956) and also fraternity brothers in the bonds of the Delta Lambda Chapter of Sigma Chi Fraternity. I lost track of him after college and reconnected for a brief visit at a college reunion at Davidson. please give Nan and family my condolences for their loss. I give thanks to God for a life well lived in service to others. The motto of our fraternity is appropriate here: “In hoc signo vinces!” In this sign conquer. In hoc, E.t. Miller

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