Hoover police officer Barry Stamps will never forget his first call with fellow officer Mack Bargainnier a little more than 19 years ago.
“We clocked somebody going 90 mph. We then went flying like a rocket down I-459 burning rubber. I was terrified,” Stamps said with a laugh. “After that, one cup of coffee together turned into 500 cups of coffee together.”
“Mack was just gold. He bled gold.”
On Jan. 8, Mack Bargainnier of Hoover passed away after a long battle with cancer. He is survived by his wife and three children, two stepchildren and 12 grandchildren. Mack was known in the community as a true public servant willing to help anyone he came across. He served the Hoover Police Department for 27 years before retiring in 2012.
“He had a job that he just loved,” his wife, Judi, said. “He had been in the military, which brought about his desire to help people and go into the police force.”
Judi and Mack married in 1992. Mack loved fly fishing, hunting and competitive shooting. Judi said the two of them would often visit the mountains of North Georgia together. She describes her husband as meticulous, kind and thoughtful.
“His grandchildren knew when they got into Poppy’s lap not to mess with his hair,” she said with a smile.
Captain Gregg Rector with the Hoover Police Department echoes Judi’s sentiment about Mack’s daily job.
“He always looked professional, from head to toe. There was never a hair out of place. He took a tremendous amount of pride in job,” Rector said. “Honor, pride [and] dignity… exemplified who he was.”
Mack’s career continued after retirement, when he served as a Student Resource Officer (SRO) at Gwin Elementary School.
“That was his calling. He loved being with those kids,” Judi said. “He said it was like having more than 300 grandchildren. They would send him cards, letters and drawings, and that would just make his day.”
In 2003, Mack began battling papillary thyroid cancer. In 2009, he was referred to M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. His treatment involved daily oral chemo, numerous prescription medications and follow-ups in Houston every 4-6 months.
However, this setback never stopped Mack from living a full life. Judi remembers Mack getting up going to work even when he was taking the oral chemo.
“He said ‘I’m not going to let this disease define me. I’m going to get out and do what I can,’” said Judi. “He was a trooper. He fought a good fight.”
Although Mack’s fight finally came to an end, it is clear his spirit lives on in Judi.
“He was the absolute love of my life,” Judi said. “We both adopted the saying, ‘It’s always an adventure.’ No matter what was happening in our lives, that’s just how we saw it.”