— Jack Lyne
The Mac I Knew
I had heard a lot about the man and all of his accomplishments, but like most larger-than-life people, you really do not get a sense of who they are until you get a chance to meet them. I first had that opportunity in the spring of 2002 during the first IAMC Professional Forum in Savannah, Ga., where Mac presented the Safe Skies Award to the families of the victims of the 9/11 attacks. In his introduction of the award and its presentation to two victims’ spouses, Sandy Dahl and Deena Burnett, Mac displayed a genuine admiration and deep respect for the heroism of the passengers and crew who lost their lives during the flights, as well as an immense compassion for the surviving family members. What a great first memory . . . not a dry eye in the room. Such honesty and a sense of what was right.
Over the years, I saw him only sporadically as it became more difficult for him to travel. We communicated periodically by phone or email. Whether it was about IAMC business or, perhaps, my review of one of his many books or white papers, my respect for him only grew. Here was an octogenarian I had only met in person a couple of times, who had a sincere interest in what I had to say and what I was doing. This is not to say that he agreed with all of my opinions — not by a long shot — but he listened intently, and, I believe, cared about what I had to say.
As I read "Not So Dull" [one of Mac’s 48 books,] it also became clear that family was very important to him. The opportunities he provided Laura and Linda and the lifelong commitment to his marriage are traits I aspire to in my family, also comprised of two daughters and a wife of 28 years.
I am sure he was far from an "easy" man to live with at times (maybe even often), but I know he cared. That was so obvious when he talked to me about family. He could say a lot with his eyes . . .
Mac was presented an honorary IAMC board position at the 2010 Forum in Colorado Springs, in recognition of his contribution to the organization. I loved the fact that, while his health would not allow him to accept the award in person, he took the time to carefully script and record a challenge to the entire IAMC membership. He challenged us with a manifesto if you will, to think bigger than we had in the past and to make personal commitments toward improving the corporate real estate function and the world as we know it today — to, yes, change the world as we know it. Mac never did (or asked for) anything small. He believed that anything conceived could be accomplished, and did not have a lot of time for people who said, "It cannot be done."
When I saw him at his home in Florida late last year, he was frail and soft-spoken. I think he was genuinely surprised to think I would take the time to visit this old man and basically said as much. So often we forget or never get the chance to thank those who inspire us.
It was my honor and my privilege to have known McKinley Conway, and it was well worth my time to drive a few hundred miles to visit an old man to tell him so in person.Thanks, Mac, for challenging me to think bigger and make the world a better place. You certainly did!
Director Real Estate
A Perspective in Tribute to H. McKinley Conway
Mac Conway isn't gone. He's just flying higher than usual, out of sight from the rest of us.
Even though we can't hear him, or see him, his spirit lives on in us. Each of us is, after all, a product of those we have known over our lives. Whether through reading, personal acquaintance, or shared vision, there is always an imprint on our mind from those we have known. In that sense we are all fortunate to have had Mac leading the vision and setting the course.
His voice can be heard in the space program that has tamed the solar system. His voice is strong in world development … not just economic development, but more importantly, human development. His ideas on the importance of infrastructure development transcend the simple notion of jobs. His vision is global and seeks the betterment of all mankind. He raised the flag of environmental conservation before most people knew the word ecology. To say he is a big thinker is somehow insufficient. Read his books, articles and memoirs. Each of us can only wish to have a lifelong passion like Mac's. Never accepting defeat, he has always focused on what should be.
Some folks talk about change like it is a big deal. But when you live on the cutting edge like Mac, you never think about change in that way. Change is the everyday normal that keeps you impatiently going.
So while we can no longer sit with Mac to share insight, we know that in his new dimension, Mac is pushing forward, thinking about what should be, to advance the cause. And we are all better for having known him here in this dimension on earth.
‘Steady Counsel And Piercing Intellect’
I will miss Mac’s steady counsel and piercing intellect. One entered into conversation with Mac only if one were not overly sensitive about one’s self-assumed intelligence or experience. A careless statement offered on any subject from world politics to corporate real estate governance seldom survived scrutiny from Mac. But the response, stern or otherwise, was always couched in terms to make one examine one’s view of the world more carefully. I am sorry I could not have captured more of his time and conversation — but then that would have been a selfish use of a valuable resource best spent by Mac on other endeavors.The time Mac did spend with me made a great difference in my world outlook. For that, I am eternally grateful. His begrudging acceptance of my IDRC membership eventually gave way to requests from him for help and advice in the way only Mac could request help and advice — indirectly, with the request interpreted not as a request but as the suggestion of a joint project with benefit flowing in both directions.
Mac was truly an icon in the fields of corporate real estate and economic development for over 60 years, and provided the foundational pillars for many of us to succeed in our professional careers, for which we will always remain indebted.
But his legacy will live on through his personal family and even more so through his extended "family" of Conway Data, IDRC, Site Selection magazine and IAMC. I’m proud to say that I had the pleasure and privilege to know him and Becky for these many years, dating back to my first IDRC World Congress at Innisbrook, Fla. in 1980. I will always remember his commanding presence with true Southern manners.
Managing Director, CEO Council
Greater Fort Lauderdale Alliance
‘A Great Pioneer’
In reflecting on Mac’s passing, it occurred to me that I had spent a number of hours with Mac with regard to the Industrial Development Research Foundation, of which I had become chairman. Obviously this was a number of years ago, but back then, and throughout the rest of Mac’s life, it became very evident that Mac was bound and determined to make happen those things he truly believed in and set his mind to doing.
With the Research Foundation, Mac quietly funded it and encouraged the people involved to truly carry out research involving the ever-changing real estate world. While I was chairman, IDRC developed Corporate Real Estate 2000 through the Research Foundation. This led to many more research projects for IDRC and the Research Foundation.
Although this was only one small accomplishment in his life, it clearly demonstrated that, if Mac believed in something and wanted to see it accomplished, he was there behind the scenes, quietly helping to make it happen. Mac did not care about who made it happen and who received the credit for making it happen. Mac was determined to make it happen because he believed it was for the good of everyone directly or indirectly. And HE DID.
Mac was a great pioneer.
S. Bleecker Totten
Senior Managing Director
CB Richard Ellis
Mac was a very unique man. He has left big shoes to fill. I just hope he left some footprints for us to all follow. His influence on this profession is immense. I know he has been crucial to the success of IAMC/IDRC over the years, and he was a role model for many of us in the profession.
With his passing, we are truly losing one of the great legends of our business.
President and CEO
International Economic Development Association
‘That Never-Say-Die Attitude’
One of my fondest memories of my grandfather dates back a quarter century.
Growing up, I traveled frequently with my grandparents, bopping ‘round the U.S., Canada and the Caribbean in the four-seat Mooney my grandfather flew.
On this particular occasion, we’d flown down to the little island of Staniel Cay, in the Bahamas. Grandy and I had rented a small motorboat to go explore some remote islands, leaving my grandmother to less rambunctious activities at the hotel.
After a day exploring in the hot sun, we were headed back across a vast expanse of ocean when the motor died. We worked for an hour to get it re-started to no avail, while the currents took us ever farther out to sea.
I began to get quite nervous, envisioning agonizing ways in which we might die, including the very real fear that a sea monster would get us (I was 10 —this seemed highly likely at the time.)
But my fear never turned to panic, mostly because Grandy never showed the first hint of concern. He just assumed it would turn out OK. And, of course, it did.
And that’s how Mac Conway lived his life. In my 37 years, I never once saw him panic and rarely even saw him stressed out or overly concerned about anything (except for the Atlanta Braves, but then, who isn’t?). My grandfather always believed things would turn out for the best, even when everyone else around him had given up; that refusal to fail helped him succeed in so much of his life.
I learned so much from Grandy, but perhaps nothing more important than that never-say-die attitude, the belief that the best possible outcome will always come to pass.
The world could use a little more Mac Conway. He will be missed.
Mac was a true leader in economic development and a true gentleman. In my early involvement with IDRC in the ‘70s Mac always had a smile and a gentle word of encouragement for a still wet-behind-the-ears kid just starting his career in economic development.
A Gifted Visionary and Entrepreneur
I was fortunate to have worked for Mac. I experienced up close and personal the mind and soul — and beauty and warts — of a gifted visionary and entrepreneur. He produced a torrent of creative ideas. And, it seemed, he wanted to put all those ideas into action — which, of course, drove his staff bonkers. He thought on much grander scales of time and space than most people. Join that perspective with a mind of exceptionally high IQ and creativity, and you have a true visionary. Now join that with an insatiable desire for concrete accomplishments and recognition, and you have an exceptional entrepreneur.
Mac was consumed by ideas and a drive for accomplishments, but what a wonderful way to be consumed. He made many contributions to society. He lived a life of personal adventure. From the big picture view, Mac Conway embodied much of what Tom Brokaw called "the Greatest Generation."
Former CEO, CoreNet Global
Former Executive Director, IDRC
Former President, Conway Data
The earliest memory I have of my grandfather starts in his garden, one sunny day in Atlanta when I was around three years old.
It was a kingdom of tangled vegetables, color and scent, that garden, strategically terraced on a slope just below the basketball court he proudly built for my mom, his star athlete, pride and joy. The landscape design was engineered as only Grandy could. . . . with the impression that something really BIG was going on behind the gate, something of great authority and valor.
John and I got right to work on our first organic garden just days after I left Grandy’s warm, fragile hug in Florida for the last time.
A few days later, after planting the last pepper and weeding the strawberry patch, the line, "There is NOTHING more rewarding than growing your own garden" drifted through my thoughts and left a contented smile on my face and in my soul. We wrapped things up, walked inside and received news that Grandy had just made his grand exit while we were outside working in the dirt.
Grandy was buried last Wednesday, across the driveway from his wildflower bed. I think I’ll bury his obituary, beautifully written by my stepfather, Jack Lyne, deep in the soil of my first garden. I’m sure the story of his life and legacy will keep the weeds out. And good news will surely grow.
He was a Giant of a man.
Whidbey Island, Wash.
Mac Invented Economic Development in the South
Mac essentially invented economic development in the South as it exists today. I was totally in awe of that man, and I have emulated him in my professional life.
Owner, Editor and Publisher
Southern Business & Development
During my 40-year career as an economic development professional, I met many interesting people, but none quite as interesting as Mac Conway.
The first time I met Mac was at the first IDRC Conference I attended, which was in Albuquerque in the fall of 1974. There were only a hundred or so who attended the conference, but Mac, with the help of Sen. [Pete] Domenici, had arranged for us to spend most of the following day touring the Sandia National Laboratory. (It was a most interesting day and still tops my list of interesting places IDRC visited.)
Mac loved flying, and when he found out that I was a private pilot and an Air Force Air Traffic Control Officer, we always had lots to talk about. I remember his account of flying his plane from Atlanta to San Diego. What was supposed to be an easy trip turned out to be quite an ordeal.
Mac had a broad vision and great intellectual curiosity. He was always ahead of the curve and he inspired us to think outside the box. He encouraged us to aim high and to look for new ideas and innovative solutions to achieve our goals.
Mac had a quick wit, a big smile and a twinkle in his eye. You could tell at a glance that he was always several steps ahead.
My last meeting with Mac was at an IDRC meeting in Indianapolis several years ago. I was on my way to a session when he flagged me down. We spent an hour or so talking about many things.
May he rest in peace.
Vice President Economic Development (Ret.)
The Economic Development Coalition of Southwest Indiana
Hearing about Mac’s death brought back a lot of memories, many very good memories. I’m sure you’re all celebrating Mac’s life. He was a great man.
‘He Never Forgot the Members and Subscribers’
Mac always wanted to know details, especially how things were going in Augusta. He was genuinely interested in the local communities, what we are seeing in our profession, any changes or improvements, and new trends. Mac ran a fine organization, and he never forgot the members and subscribers who, in his words, "made my life enjoyable."
Walter C. Sprouse, Jr.
The Development Authority of Richmond County (Ga.)
I didn’t know squat about Mac Conway until I read the online [tribute] article. But that article couldn’t have come at a better time. At 60 years old, I was just starting to feel like letting down — not wanting to, but expecting to because, after all, I had hit 60. This article about Mac recharged my batteries, refueled my passion and gave me the inspiration I needed to get up and continue the fight.
Passion isn’t an emotion that limits itself to age; it is limited only by personal commitment. Mac is still making a difference in people’s lives through your efforts.
Development Services Director
Abbeville County, S.C.
‘A Quiet Moment of Greatness’
Some moments of greatness are not grand at all. Some are quiet. Some moments, even those of historical greatness, involve nothing more dramatic than standing up in quiet and heroic silence.
It is the custom in the Georgia Senate to swear in new senators two by two. A pair of newly elected lawmakers marches down the center aisle together and take the oath together. When it came the turn of LeRoy Johnson, the groundbreaking black senator, to march down the aisle for his oath, no one in that hallowed hall of whiteness would walk with him. All shunned him. All except one.
Mac sized up the situation instantly. Unlike his new colleagues, he knew the past was past, that the future of the South and its people was starting at that moment. He stepped forward, took his place beside LeRoy Johnson, and the two of them marched down the aisle shoulder to shoulder and became senators.
Sen. Johnson made history that day, history reported in the press all over the world. Unremarked in the press and unnoticed by the world, Sen. Conway also made history through a quiet, decent act of courage. So here, let it be remarked, let it be noticed. It was a moment of nobility. Let it be remembered.
Professor, St. Bonaventure College
The world suffered a loss when Mac Conway passed away. As his [online] Site Selection tribute chronicles, Mac truly gave meaning to the word "entrepreneur." I was privileged to know Mac Conway for some 65 years and learned a lot from him along the way.
‘Mac Was a Visionary’
Mac was in inspiring person who had a great influence on something I have spent the last 20 years advocating.
In 1987, I was an FAA Manager in Florida who saw aviation delays and congestion in the U.S. as something that was unacceptable and had to be fixed. It still needs fixing. I published a concept called wayports that advocates a nationwide system of supplemental airports located at new airports, underutilized airports or abandoned military bases. The idea received significant endorsements and support all over the country from elected officials, media and industry.
Mac got in touch with me and told me about the books he had written on Airport Cities, and he said he would like to associate the Airport City concept with wayports. His 1989 update of his book "The Airport City" was titled "Airport Cities 21, the New Global Transport Centers of the 21st Century."
In Mac’s editorial "New FAA Wayport Proposal Could Be Site Breakthrough Opening Opportunities for 21st Century Development," Mac said, "The wayport plan is hailed as being as significant to air travel as the Interstate highway plan has been to auto travel. We’ll go a notch further. We believe the wayport scheme is not only an intriguing airport plan; it also offers the opportunity for demonstrating a revolutionary concept of urban development. The sites chosen for wayports, however rural or undeveloped, will instantly become the sites for new towns. Properly planned, the new wayport towns can provide a long-awaited, full-scale demonstration of the Airport City concept. Once demonstrated, we believe this concept will provide the pattern for new urban centers for the 21st century."
The Airport City is now being promoted using the name "Aerotropolis," and it is being advanced all over the world. It is fundamentally the same concept. A discussion about this can be found on a page titled "Airport City" on the wayports Web site at www.wayports.com.
Mac was a visionary. He deserves recognition for his accomplishments, contributions to his profession and for those he inspired to be creative and fight for a cause. Conway Data Inc. will be around for many years and will continue Mac’s legacy. I intend to write a more in-depth article about Mac when the wayports concept that he said could be the nucleus of new Airport Cities is finally accepted.
FAA District Manager (Ret.)
I was sorry to learn of your — our — great loss. I was aware of Mac’s many interests, but I was blown away reading the listing of all of them in his obituary. I think there was one quality that actually set Mac apart. Let me explain:
Right after World War II, I was involved with trying to get the Super Market Institute involved in a consumer magazine for the super market customers — a magazine other than the ones that A&P and Safeway put out on their own. At the time, there was a fellow named Mr. Zimmerman, who I think of as “the Mac of that group.” Mr. Zimmerman had started a magazine called Supermarket Merchandising, which he launched almost before there even was a super market. That magazine was the basis for the Super Market Institute — which now includes all of the decent-sized players in the field and operates under the name Food Marketing Institute.
But Mr. Zimmerman today, or his logical successor, is nowhere to be found. The reason for that void is very simple: Mr. Zimmerman refused to share the wealth. Consequently, in short order, the operators simply passed over him.Having had this experience, I was really able to appreciate Mac’s brilliance all the more. He not only founded IDRC and IAMC; he was also willing to share, giving active members part ownership in the enterprise. He was truly a “oner,” and it was a privilege to have him as a friend.
Radix Organization, Inc., Director (Ret.)
‘Tough but Always Fair’
I have many fond memories of Mac, starting in 1984 with my first day at the Peachtree-DeKalb office when he invited me to go "bounce around" in his single-engine Mooney. As a travel junkie, I appreciated how he always made it a point to swap stories with me whenever one of us returned from a trip.
He could be tough, but he was always fair. He was a great writer, a great thinker and a great doer, a true giant of a man. It’s hard to imagine the world without Mac.
My detailed memory of Mac began when I joined IDRC in 1999. Mac knew that I had co-authored a number of books and he would share his thoughts and books with me. On a number of occasions Mac asked me to his office to share ideas on corporate real estate and related issues, and sought my opinion on a number of ideas. I admired Mac as a leader in corporate real estate with IDRC and Site Selection magazine, being the first one out there, testing an idea, and testing himself by putting himself on the line. An age has passed, and Mac provided the strong foundation for our continued development of corporate real estate and the corporate real estate profession.
Real Estate General Manager
Georgia Institute of Technology
I wasn’t privileged to know Mac Conway for long; in fact I met him for the first time just this spring. Little did I know he would soon be moving on to his bigger adventures.
I was fortunate to be able to visit with him, to sit and share coffee and stories on an almost daily basis for the better part of two months. Our conversations ranged from current world events, to family stories, to other varied topics of interest from days long ago. During these times we saw and discussed the political flare-ups in Middle East, the tsunami destruction in Japan and of course the ongoing economic turmoil in this country.
On one occasion after a particularly sobering dose of CNN, I posed the loaded question of wondering if the best times were indeed behind us — mainly referring to the possibilities of self-made men and the potential for a single person to indeed make an impact on the world around us. Much to my surprise, I saw a very proud, accomplished, self-made man nary miss a beat as he leaned forward, looked me straight in the eye and clearly stated that he was absolutely certain the best times were ahead of us: The world he was surely soon to leave was in better hands than at any other time in history. He said the possibilities for individuals were unparalleled, the future brighter and more exciting than ever before. There was work to be done, there were fields to explore and adventures to be had.
That was the Mac I was so very fortunate to meet and get to know. He will be missed greatly and carried in my heart as proof of all that that we can aspire to be and achieve.
Whidbey Island, Wash.
‘Left a Lot of Charmed Friends’
Mac Conway was a charmer. His was a busy life, full of travel, site inspections, politics and, not last by any means, family and friends. His whirlwind of a schedule would have been enough to stymie anyone, but Mac loved it. And still he was a charmer.
I met Mac Conway more than 40 years ago, and after my first impression of this remarkably handsome man, I noticed that whenever I spoke with him, I had his undivided attention. Mac, always busy, always in demand, still managed to be an attentive listener — not a man to look over one’s shoulder to see if a more important person might be in the room.
Mac left a lot of footprints in his 90 years, and a lot of charmed friends.
Manager, WABE-FM (Ret.)
I worked with Mac for a couple years as director of planning at Conway Research during 1974-75. Those were at the Peachtree-DeKalb airport office, during the early days of the development of the Spruce Creek project and the Fly-In Concept.
I learned much from Mac: from how to steer his twin-engine Beechcraft Baron to attempting to play golf at the Spruce Creek, Fla., course to preparing FAA-sponsored Airport Master Plan studies in places like Greene County, Penn., and Jackson, Miss.
Mercer Island, Wash
‘A Second Father’
I thought of him as a second father. I loved him very much. . . . He is the only person I know who could have convinced me to speak on his behalf at a campaign rally.
I was one of Mac’s many admirers, and I was proud to call him a friend. I first met Mac in the early ‘70s when I was a young lawyer new to Atlanta, and I began representing the Fly-In Concept, which pursued one of Mac’s concepts for developing communities around some of the abandoned military air strips scattered around Florida. As you know, the Spruce Creek community was meticulously planned, mostly by Mac, and development had begun for a mixed-use community designed primarily for private plane owners.
Unfortunately, this development coincided with a significant dip in the real estate market, but I later learned that Spruce Creek became the kind of development Mac had envisioned.
Mac brought a quiet and thoughtful but commanding demeanor to every meeting in which I ever saw him, and stress never seemed to divert him from his chosen course.
On one occasion, my five-year-old son Scott and I flew with Mac to Spruce Creek. He had taken a picture of Scott at the controls, which he sent to me with a note saying he hoped to see Scott as a licensed pilot. Some years later, I was pleased to write Mac a note with a copy of the picture and his note in which I was proud to tell him that Scott did indeed have his license.
Attorney at Law
Ellen and I treasure our time at Conway Data, not just because it brought us together, but for the wonderful associations we had.
I really appreciate the opportunities Mac gave me to develop professionally, and the way he pushed me to grow while I worked there in the 1970s. I learned so much from him and wouldn’t trade those years for anything.
Deep Creek Arts
Whittier, North Carolina 28789
Former Conway Data/Site Selection Art Director
My sorrow is that I never had the chance to meet Mac.