By Roger Ball
Most Sun City West residents have never heard the name Earl Mackert, the 40th anniversary parade grand marshal, before now. But his service to the community touched many residents.
The title on his name tag reads, “Vice-Chairman, Insurance Sub Committee.” But that is a bit lacking in its description of what he actually does. Mr. Mackert volunteered more than full-time for decades. He is an expert with insurance and tax procedures and gladly shares that expertise with the community’s chartered clubs.
The parade is one event in a weekend of celebration for Sun City West’s 40th anniversary. Some static displays started Feb. 1, but the majority of events are Friday, Feb. 16 – Monday, Feb. 19.
Among his many duties, he audits the annual reports for all 112 chartered clubs.
Not taking a paycheck isn’t the only way Mr. Mackert saved the Recreation Centers of Sun City West money.
“Earl is the premier negotiator,” said Peggy Robbins, RCSCW board president. “He has negotiated insurance contracts for the association and saved us thousands of dollars and he hasn’t been paid a dime. All volunteer hours.”
Several years ago one of the clubs had inadvertently done some things against the non-profit rules and had a fine from the IRS for $28,000. Carole Hubbs, then board president, knew Earl had the knowledge to help and offered him a job. He declined on the job but offered to help as a volunteer.
He was not only able to resolve that issue with an appeal, which involved a trip to Covington, Kentucky, but also got 22 other fines from the IRS canceled.
Working with a community that has tax exempt chartered clubs, like Sun City West, was a new experience for the IRS. Mr. Mackert worked with the agency for almost four years to get a program set for the agency, and it is still in use.
Like many people who have lived here a long time, Mr. Mackert originally moved to Arizona for his health. His doc tor told him arthritis was a serious problem and he needed to leave the cold and humid Cleveland, Ohio, area for a warm and dry climate. He chose Arizona.
A claims adjuster for Nationwide Insurance, he was able to get a company transfer to the Phoenix area.
In addition to his career, and his love for golf, he started looking for ways to serve communities. He now volunteer 40hours or more every week.
“I never collected a dime for anything that I’ve done for the Recreation Centers of Sun City West. I didn’t feel that I had to,” he said. “I’m retired. I’m not wealthy but I wanted to do what I can do for that community.”
His wide-ranging and extensive service is highly valued.
“Earl is the hardest-working volunteer I’ve ever met. In fact, if you didn’t know he was an unpaid volunteer, you would assume he was a full-time employee because he puts in so many hours,” said Katy O’Grady, RCSCW general services officer.Selecting Mr. Mackert as grand marshal was an easy decision, she added.
“He likes to joke that every year they add another “zero” to the end of his salary. He has given so much to this association and to his community, he certainly deserves the recognition, even though he’s one who likes to shy away from the limelight,” Ms. O’Grady said.
Mr. Mackert’s service to the community isn’t limited to the recreation centers.
He and his wife Carole helped start the Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic congregation. Originally they conducted masses in residents’ homes. When they grew and moved to the Palm Ridge Recreation Center, 13,800 W. Deer Valley road, he became the head usher. A few years later the congregation moved to their own current structure, and he still continues in that role.
Mike Whiting, RCSCW general manager, knows the value of volunteers, especially those with the expertise of someone like Mr. Mackert, who is willing to share it.
“In a word, Earl Mackert is fantastic! A fantastic volunteer, a fantastic advisor, a fantastic friend! Earl deserves this recognition and much more,” Mr. Whiting said.
What does Earl think abut this honor of being the Grand Marshal?
“I don’t want to brag. Don’t’ want to make a big deal about this thing. I’ve achieved my goal to do everything I could for the people of Sun City West. That’s why I’ve done it for free,” he said.