How many really special people have you met? Place-marker people who help others see their own potential and follow their hearts? How do you honor their deaths?
For many in our town, story teller Mark Lewis is such a person.
He won two Emmy awards, appeared in television shows and as a guest artist on Jay Leno. He provided creative content for Microsoft, Disney Imagineering, Universal Studios, and Silicon Gaming Inc. You can hear him as one of the voices in the “Pirates of the Caribbean” ride at Disneyland.
After settling here, he volunteered countless hours as a teacher and guest performer. He ran Hogwarts summer camps, helped create an arts academy, and made many of us feel like his best friend. He taught journalism students and helped coach another local hero, Heisman trophy winner Marcus Mariota, for a video to help fight sexual assault on the University of Oregon campus. Mariota called the experience a blessing.
Mark Lewis passed away December 7 of a pulmonary embolism. He was sixty.
Family and hundreds of friends remembered him with stories, jokes, and music. At one point during the memorial, the lights were turned down so we could see sparks when we bit on wint-o-green life savers — magic, Mark used to say. His daughter revealed his fondness for whoopee cushions.
For the weepy, tissue packs were thrown into the crowd. For the heavy criers, it was entire rolls of toilet paper. One of Mark’s mantras to new students: Both feet on the ground. Remember to breathe. Several of the speakers at the memorial invoked it to help get through their stints at the podium.
It’s hard for me to attend memorial services. This one was a reminder of why they are important. As his daughter Katelyn said, it’s a performance. It’s also a reunion of friends, a way to mark a passing so that we remember it, and a reminder of the good things that a particular person brought to us.
Here’s a fitting tribute. You might need a hanky.
Thank you Mark.
Did you lose anyone important to you in 2014?