Balancing the Cross of Life: Love, Worship, Work, Play

By:
Angela Rabke
Photography By:
David Teran

Jeanne and Kurt Mackie have often reminded their children that a good life is a balance of love, worship, work and play. The life they have built together sets an example of such balance.

It was during a couples’ golf trip to the Hill Country in the 90s that Kurt and Jeanne fell in love with the area. “We knew that this is where we wanted to be someday,” shares Jeanne. The pair made many trips to the Hill Country and visited many areas before a friend recommended that they check out Cordillera Ranch. As soon as they did, plans for their relocation began. They just had to wait for the right timing.

Kurt was born in Nebraska, one of nine children. He spent his early years in California before his family headed back to Nebraska. While he was in high school, he became a competitive gymnast, eventually earning a spot on the team at the University of Nebraska where he was an NCAA All-American, and placed 5th in the entire nation in rings. His interest in gymnastics can be credited to a former neighbor who introduced Kurt and four of his siblings to the sport when he was in junior high. While he stopped competing once he entered dental school, his passion for gymnastics never fizzled. After he began his career, he volunteered at a local gym coaching boys’ gymnastics, and he often travels with former teammates to observe national competitions.       

After graduation, he entered the University of Nebraska College of Dentistry, where he was commissioned with the United States Public Health Service at the rank of Captain. It was at the College of Dentistry that Kurt and Jeanne’s paths would intersect.  “I was born in Nebraska, but we moved to Iowa when I was ten,” she says.  Eventually, though, she returned for college at the University of Nebraska, where she pursued her degree in Education, and met Kurt at the dental college where she was assisting graduate students in their research in the Advanced Dental Periodontic Program.

The two were married in 1981, and after Kurt completed his Doctorate in Dental Surgery, they headed to Harlingen, Texas where he was stationed as the Director of Su Clinica Familia. What began as a three-year obligation with the US Public Health Service turned into almost 35 years. After completing his three years, Dr. Mackie opened a private practice and the couple raised their four children in South Texas. “It was a bit of a shock at first, after growing up in the Midwest,” she laughs.  “…but we eventually got used to the hotter temperatures and our plans to move back to Nebraska changed, although we never miss the chance to attend Nebraska football games. We are still fans of the Big Red!”

When they had initially made plans to leave Harlingen for the hills in 2015, Kurt sold his practice with an eye on retirement. But his passion for dentistry led him to open Kurt D Mackie, DDS, Distinctive Dentistry in Boerne. His dental assistant of over 38 years also got hooked on the Hill Country and made the move as well. Jeanne, who had worked behind the scenes in the office in the past, prepared their close-knit family for the exciting transition. Already members of The Clubs of Cordillera Ranch and lot owners in the community, they settled in Boerne before deciding to scrap plans to build and bought a home in Cordillera Ranch in 2020. 

With four grown children, three grandchildren and another on the way in July, the move came at a perfect time. Being a part of Cordillera Ranch and of the larger Hill Country community is ideal for frequent family visits. The Mackie’s three sons, two A&M grads and one Baylor grad, live in Houston, while their daughter, a Baylor grad, is in Waco — but the siblings all find the time to visit each other and their parents whenever they can. They are most proud of their kids and their many accomplishments. Jonathan, their oldest, is in oil and gas, and his wife Elizabeth is a physician’s assistant. The couple’s son, Hart, is six months old. Their son David is in commercial construction management, and his wife Danielle has her master’s in Special Education. They are parents to two-year-old Henry and baby Nora. Their third son, Stephen, is in civil construction, and their daughter Mary works in public relations and marketing. Her husband Matthew is in patent finance, and they are expecting their first baby.

With so many busy careers, it is no wonder the family relishes relaxing times together. Kurt and the boys do head back south once and a while, as they built a fishing cabin north of Port Mansfield when the boys were in high school.  “We try to spend as much time there, fly fishing and relaxing as our schedules allow,” Kurt says.  “It’s a little piece of heaven.” The couple are avid hikers, and love to travel to Arizona and Colorado to explore. For all of their travels, though, they are thrilled to find a home that brings their love of outdoor activity right to their front door.

“There are so many options here, whether it’s horseback riding or golfing, community clubs or the fitness area. We love to hike all over the place, whether it’s here or someplace like Lost Maples. We’re an outdoorsy family, and especially love the river activities, like kayaking through Cordillera and fishing at Swede Creek. It’s so easy because we have the Outfitter Center, and they provide the kayaks and pick you up,” says Jeanne.

The relaxed pace of the area hasn’t slowed the couple down. Jeanne has enjoyed devoting her time to the Junior League, American Heart Association, the United Way and Kendall County Women’s Shelter. But P.E.O. (Philanthropic Educational Organization) is really where she devotes most of her generous energy these days. P.E.O. is a philanthropic organization where women celebrate the advancement of women and educate through scholarships, grants and loans, and motivate women to achieve their highest aspirations. “We interview candidates who are eligible to apply for our projects, which include loans for those who are pursuing their master’s or doctoral degree, grants for continuing education and scholarships for high school seniors who are pursuing post-secondary education. We then submit the applications to the international office in Iowa for selection. When we moved from Harlingen, I transferred to Chapter IT in Boerne,” says Jeanne.

In addition to running his busy dental practice, Kurt is deeply involved in the STEM program at the local high schools. STEM is a national curriculum based on the idea of educating students in one of the four disciplines — science, technology, engineering and mathematics, including computer science. It focuses on developing higher thinking skills by connecting classroom learning to the real world. The STEM program was already implemented when the Mackie’s moved to Boerne, but a meeting with the leaders of the program led to a committee appointment concentrating on further growth and development for the Boerne high schools. Kurt has received statewide recognition for leadership and development of the Boerne program. He also sponsors two students at his office each school year in which they observe and participate in appropriate clinical and laboratory functions. “It is rewarding to see some of the students deciding to enter the dental field after spending time at the office,” he shares.

STEM leadership is a natural extension of his professional pursuits. His interest in conservative oral soft tissue and bone healing led to the recent development and subsequent patent of an oral device utilizing red/near infrared photobiomodulation. Kurt’s device is designed to treat autoimmune diseases that have soft tissue pathology for which there is no cure and requires frequent treatments to manage inflammation and pain. The device has been FDA approved and is undergoing continuing research with a major dental manufacturer for distribution and patient utilization. Kurt took an interest in complex restorative dentistry through the prestigious L.D. Pankey Institute in Key Biscayne, Florida.  After completing the entire continuum, he was offered a position as a visiting teaching assistant at the Institute. He has completed numerous hours of continuing education in which he achieved Fellowship, and then Mastership in the Academy of General Dentistry, and he has lectured nationally on the restoration of dental implants.

The couple celebrates 40 years of marriage this year, with no plans of slowing down. “We love our new jobs as grandparents, and we have our car set on autopilot to Houston!” says Jeanne. They are also planning a trip to the Caribbean for later this summer. In the meantime, they can be spotted around town at the Cypress Grill or Dienger Trading Company when they’re not busy taking advantage of the many outside activities that drew them to Boerne and Cordillera Ranch, and always keeping their balance between love, worship, work and play.

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