Passings: Ted Mackie, 88, Civic-Minded Businessman

By Bill Bruns 
Palisades News Adviser

Ted Mackie, the lovable contrarian who owned the town’s bicycle shop, and was active for many years on the Pacific Palisades Community Council, died of prostate cancer on May 11 at his home in Pacific Palisades. He was 88.

In addition to operating Palisades Bicycles on Via de la Paz (he liked to refer to himself as “proprietor and CEO”), Mackie won a Golden Sparkplug Award in 2001 for creating the community council’s first website. He was physically active his entire life. He surfed into his forties and ran in all of the Fourth of July Will Rogers 5K/10K races except for two. The Fourth was his favorite holiday.

Ted Mackie in 1994.
Ted Mackie in 1994.

Last year, I received the following e-mail from my friend Ted, who was struggling with his health:

“Dear Pro Bono, as you likely heard I’ve been laid up, wavering between Hospice and the Neptune Society.” Ted was known for his sly humor and recounted some of the highlights of his life in just 104 words.

Born in 1928, he grew up in Brentwood until 1946, when his parents, Edward and Grace, “dragged me to their new $5,000 house on Chautauqua.” In high school, he spent one summer at Douglas, helping to build 30 C54 aircraft per week—“a feat that amazes me to this day.”

After graduating from University High, he become a mail carrier. “In 1950, Harry Truman decided to transfer me from delivering mail to delivering artillery shells to the Chinese army,” Ted wrote. “So it was off to Korea, where my artillery battalion reluctantly but faithfully did our duty.”

Ted’s youngest daughter, Suki, said that 19-year-old Ted heard that the best place to meet girls was in church, so despite his agnostic beliefs he began attending Brentwood Presbyterian. Sure enough, he struck up a romance with beautiful Mary Hagerth. They got married three weeks before he shipped off for Korea.

“My dad had a prized MG sports car,” Suki recalled, “but when he was in Korea, mom sold it to make a down payment on their first house. She had a savvy real estate sense which Dad appreciated, although he missed the MG. They eventually owned five houses in the Palisades.”

When Ted returned from Korea, he went to work for Douglas Aircraft as a technical writer. “He loved it,” said Suki. “He got to hang out with engineers and scientists, while also enjoying three-martini lunches and going surfing after work.”

“In 1972,” Ted wrote, “I gave up my cushy job at Douglas when it moved from Santa Monica to Huntington Beach.” He and Mary bought Bikeology on Sunset, and later Leo’s Bicycles on Via, merging the two to become Ted’s Cycle Shop.

“It was one of the smartest things I ever did,” Ted told the Palisadian-Post in 2001. “If I hadn’t done that I would have been middle-age and expendable in a giant corporation, which isn’t a very good place to be.”

After divorcing in 1978, Ted married Louisa Chambliss. They had a “strong, loving relationship,” Suki said. Unfortunately, Louisa died of breast cancer after four years of marriage. “Dad was an attentive caregiver for Louisa. He showed us all how sweet he could be.”

The following year, Ted met Carol Leacock when she popped into the bike shop one day, looking for the printer who produced the TCA hike schedule. Ted provided directions (the adjacent Letter Shop) and requested a copy of the hike schedule in return. Shortly thereafter, he became a regular on the TCA hikes. In turn, Ted told Carol about his Saturday morning running group, which she joined a short time later. Thus began their partnership in pursuing the active outdoor lifestyle that they both loved. Ted and Carol eventually married in 1998. Carol was president of the TCA and Ted got involved as the treasurer.

Last September, Ted sent an e-mail: “The house next door on Bienveneda, a ‘mid- century’ house, nice pool, no view, but miserable location between St. Matthew’s and Sunset, just rented for $9,000 a month. Can’t wait to meet the new tenant. Probably a retired bike mechanic.”

Ted is survived by his wife, Carol; his daughters, Suki and Marilyn (a former actress); stepdaughter Rebecca Leacock and stepson Jay Leacock (wife Kristy); stepsons Jeff Chambliss and James Chambliss, and stepdaughter Loran Chambliss.

A memorial service is tentatively scheduled for Saturday, June 3, in the Los Liones outdoor amphitheater. Consult the TCA website for details.

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