Michael J. Stack Jr., a lawyer and Democratic ward leader in Northeast Philadelphia who played a significant behind-the-scenes role in city politics for more than 30 years, died Wednesday at age 84. An announcement went out yesterday from the office of his son, State Sen. Michael J. Stack III.
Stack led the Democratic organization of the 58th ward, in the Bustleton and Somerton sections of the city, from 1970 until 2007, when he turned over the reins to his son.
Stack was born into politics, the son of a conservative Democrat who served two terms in Congress from 1935 to 1939. He became active himself through a friendship with James H. J. Tate, the City Council president who became Philadelphia’s mayor in 1962. He would become a quiet by powerful presence in the Democratic party structure.
"As long as I have known him, he has managed to adopt a traditional style of avoiding the limelight so he can have a better view of the passing parade in a ward with 30,000 registered voters," former Congressman Robert Borsky said in 2000 in a tribute to Stack, entered into the Congressional Record.
He expressed himself in at least four novels, some of them thinly disguised accounts of Philadelphia politics and his role therein. One novel, Close Personal Friends of the Mayor, parallels Tate's mayoral reelection campaign in 1965.
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