Mack Sisk Obit -- San Antonio Express News

Obituary: Feb. 12, 2008

Sisk an old-fashioned reporter with great nose for news

Kenny "Chili" Mack Sisk, a longtime journalist remembered for his coverage of some of South Texas' most notorious shootings, died Tuesday in Austin of cancer. He was 67.

Sisk's colleagues describe him as an intrepid and dedicated reporter who valued shoe-leather reporting and could weave together stories like no one else.

"He was outstanding. My best recollection is when he covered the assassination of (U.S. District Judge) John Wood in San Antonio," said Phil Magers, a retired Dallas bureau manager for United Press International. "I don't think there was anyone better, really. He always gave it 100 percent."

Former colleague Jim Wieck said, "He was just one helluva nice guy and a great reporter.

"Chili Mack just had a knack for hearing about breaking news stories before anybody else, or being nearby when the shooting started," he wrote in an e-mail.

"One of his classic stories involved the capture of 1970s drug kingpin Fred Gomez Carrasco. It was a shootout in South San Antonio, and it happened near where Sisk lived at the time. Chili Mack said the gunfire woke him up and he found himself almost in the middle of the shootout," Wieck said.

"He quickly called the Dallas UPI office and then stayed with the story until the wounded Carrasco was captured."

Sisk also helped the Los Angeles UPI bureau profile serial killer Richard Ramirez, the "Night Stalker," by investigating his Texas connections, Wieck said.

Other big stories Sisk covered include the Battle of Flowers Parade sniper shooting and the murder of college student Mark Kilroy in Matamoros, Mexico, said his son, Steve Sisk.

Kenny Sisk grew up in Idalou, near Lubbock. As a child, he was a voracious reader and a strong athlete, said his older brother, Bobby Sisk. He enrolled at Texas Tech University but left after a semester to spend four years in the Navy. Then he returned to Tech, where he studied journalism.

Sisk got his start covering the Texas Legislature for UPI -- a job he landed two weeks before he was supposed to graduate. But the offer wasn't negotiable, his brother recalled.

After the stint covering politics in Austin, Sisk worked in New Orleans and then became a bureau manager for UPI's Rio Grande office, said his friends and family. He also worked for The Associated Press, the now-defunct San Antonio Light and the Brownsville Herald, Steve Sisk said.

LuCretia Grace Sisk said her fondest memories of her father are of his many colloquialisms, most of which are too colorful to print, she said.

"He was really funny, even unintentionally funny," she said. "He loved scratch-offs and he loved playing bingo . . . One thing I'd really realized about him toward the end is that he had simple pleasures and a simple lifestyle. He was pretty easily satisfied with simple things." -- Josh Baugh/ Express-News

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