Mark was a good man. Sometimes we want to use better, fancier words but there is just no other word than good to describe him. He was a good husband to me and a good father to David and Michael. He was a good brother. A good citizen, community member, and Boeing employee.
Thirty three years and six months ago, Mark and I were married. At our wedding the best man read the famous passage from the First Chapter of St. Paul’s letter to the Corinthians. We laughed at the words, “If I do not have love, I am a noisy gong and clanging cymbal”. As I think of Mark now, I see that the other words of that verse fit him; we’ll just ignore any theological context. He wasn’t a religious man but he was a man of highest character and morals. He lavished his love on me, telling me every single day that he loved me. He loved his sons and was proud of them. He was honest, principled, and consistent. If he said that he would do something, he did it. He was compassionate, generous, and a friend to all, even the cats that he pretended to detest. He was modest and humble, never wanting the limelight or recognition if he could see it given to someone else. He was certainly not a noisy gong or clanging cymbal, looking for attention.Mark was born on March 28th, 1950. He lived in Renton for most of his life. There was adversity in his youth but he was resilient. In 1969, he joined the Air Force, which recognized his intelligence and sent him to the Defense Language Institute at Monterey, California. It was either that, or they’d have sent him to Chicago to become a cook! In Monterey, he learned Mandarin Chinese. After that he was sent to Vietnam where he flew many missions, serving as an airborne translator of intercepted Chinese military messages. When he was discharged he returned to Renton and got a job at Boeing. He worked as a wire bundler, then at flight test packing gear for the pilots, and through persistence and self education he finished as a systems analyst.
In 1978, we were married and a few years later our sons, David and Michael were born. There was nothing he wouldn’t do for them, right up to the last weeks of his life. Education was a priority for him. Mark volunteered countless hours to Campbell Hill Elementary School: helping out at all events from skating parties to school carnivals. He served as PTA president and treasurer. He never missed a parent teacher conference even when suffering jet lag after a business trip to Japan. He saw to it that his boys went to college and got degrees, something he was never able to do. That was the one disappointment he’d mention. He wanted a chance to go to college and possibly become a high school math teacher, but circumstances didn’t allow that.His illness was hard and harrowing. Most people didn’t realize how sick he really was. He didn’t want to make people sad, depressed or have them pity him. Mark didn’t allow it to become the center of his life. He lived with it as an “inconvenience” or as he said, “a little spot of cancer”, that happened to require surgeries, radiation, and seemingly endless chemotherapy sessions. He just plowed forward, working long hours for Boeing, maintaining the house and yard, hosting patio parties, and above all making me happy. That is what truly made him happy.
Finally, I’m going to revise that familiar “love is” passage: “Mark was patient, Mark was kind. He did not envy, he did not boast, he was not proud. Mark did not dishonor others, he was not self-seeking, he was not easily angered, he kept no record of wrongs. Mark did not delight in evil but rejoiced with the truth. Mark always protected, always trusted, always hoped, always persevered.” Truly if you substitute Mark for the word love, that describes him.
I long for him and miss him and love him with all my heart.