Andy Stack, who has served 44 years on either the Owen Brown Village Board or the Columbia Association Board, is the longest-serving board member of any village in Columbia. (TBM / Jason Whong)

Andy Stack will be a record-holder for a long time. After serving 44 years on either the Owen Brown Village Board or the Columbia Association Board, he’s the longest-serving board member of any village in Columbia. Now he’s ready to hand the baton to the next generation. 

He actually got his board start in Oakland Mills, not Owen Brown. “I moved to Columbia in 1977 and rented an apartment across from the Oakland Mills Village Center,” he said. “I volunteered at the Other Barn — the Oakland Mills community center.”

There, he got to know the members of the Oakland Mills Village Board and, in 1978, ran for a board post himself after most of the board decided to step down to pursue other activities. “I enjoyed being on the Oakland Mills Village Board,” he said. “In 1980, I purchased a duplex in Owen Brown and, since I enjoyed being on the Oakland Mills Village Board, I ran for the Owen Brown Village Board and was elected.” 

All these years, he has been inspired by Jim Rouse’s vision for Columbia, and he has wanted to be a part of making the vision happen.

“There were more contested elections in the early years than we find currently,” he said. “Some of my races were contested, but many were not — I can’t remember how many.”

For many years, the board terms were one year — meaning Stack had to run for reelection every year — then later changed to two-year terms.

Looking back over 44 years of continuous service, Stack describes the most difficult time as comparatively recently: the tumult between the Columbia Association board and its former president, Lakey Boyd. “It really impacted the community and created divisions,” said Stack. 

For him, the previous four decades hold better memories. “The best part of this role was meeting and working with people, especially village and Columbia Association board members, and village and Columbia Association staff,” he said. “I include all the villages, not just Owen Brown.”

Always, he’s seen his role as doing his part to improve Columbia and keep to Jim Rouse’s vision.

“I enjoyed serving on the boards,” he said. “I saw myself as representing the Owen Brown and Columbia community, and helping to improve it.”

He also believes that Columbia was indeed developed in line with Jim Rouse’s vision. 

“I never really thought I would see it,” he said. “When I moved here, Kings Contrivance was just opening, Dorsey was on the drawing board, and River Hill was still a game preserve and open space area.”

It still amazes him that the proposed residential development happened and now, with the Downtown Columbia Plan, the final part is occurring. 

“I will miss being able to impact decisions relating to Columbia,” said Stack, who will be replaced by Owen Brown Village Board Chair Michael Golibersuch. “What is great is that Michael grew up in Columbia and is taking an active role,” said Stack. “It is really great that people who grew up here like the area so much that they want to be a part of the governance structure.”

He wants to send a message to all the residents of Owen Brown: “Thank you for all the support you have given me over the years. If you hadn’t been supportive, I would never have been elected so many times.”

Want another way to thank him? Get involved yourself, he urged. “I would like to see more involvement from our residents in the process. I understand that life is very hectic, but helping to make your community better has its rewards.”