Tribute: Mark Lewis

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.

Photo by Mikael Krummel
Photo by Mikael Krummel

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.

Mark Lewis: The Man Who Touched All from Alan Sylvestre on Vimeo.

Thank you Mark.

Did you lose anyone important to you in 2014?



  • Sounds like he lived a life he loved, which I suppose is all any of us can hope for at the end. I lost my aunt in 2014. I saw her in August at a wedding–she was as vibrant and alive as always. The next month she was diagnosed with a brain tumor, and a few weeks later she died. It stunned everyone with how quick it all happened. At least I got to see her one last time. It had been almost a decade since I had seen her before then.


  • This is a wonderful tribute. I believe I’ve heard of him, Mark Lewis feels vaguely familiar. He embodied such love of life and his craft, he’s indeed a great loss to his family and community.


  • He was an amazing story teller, and an inspiration. He also was a staunch supporter and cheerleader for my daughter, for which I’ll be forever grateful.


  • It’s a wonderful tribute to a local, talented person, JB.

    We lost our father a few days @85 yrs., just before Christmas Day 2014. His death was slowly accelerated in last 3 months of his life but had very high quality years of living for past 6 yrs. after diagnosis of prostate cancer.

    I gave his eulogy (as the eldest adult child. Parents had 6 children) and my youngest sibling gave hers.
    There was a point to control my crying, to stop for 30 sec., breathe and continue.

    So his advice is good…for life.


    • So sorry to hear of the death of your Dad! What a time of change for you. Glad his last months were not long in misery — something we can all hope for — but that can also mean he was really there for and with all of you close to the time of his death, which in turn can mean missing him all the more. You were brave to do that eulogy. It’s hard to get up in front of a crowd when you know people might see your face blotchy with tears. I don’t know about you, but crying in front of people doesn’t come easily for me.

      Wishing you peace and many happy memories as you venture into 2015.


  • Mark sounds like he certainly lived life to the fullest. I must say I did chuckle at the site of tissue packs and rolls of toilet paper being thrown into the crowd. It’s not easy to make other people smile at such a sad time, but his daughter bringing up his love of whoopee cushions proofs his spirit will live on!

    Sorry for your loss.


  • What his daughter actually said was that she’d never met a man who could literally laugh himself sick over a whoopee cushion. I started to describe the toilet paper rolls trailing over our heads, but couldn’t make it sound as funny as it was. Ah the indignity of blotchy faces, and how good to laugh about it. Yes, his spirit will live on. Thanks for the kind comment.


  • What an indelible spirit. I have a fondness for story tellers, and I cannot look at a full moon without thinking of the line the moon was a ghostly galleon tossed upon cloudy seas. I am sorry that Mark’s end came too soon. What a loss for his family, friends, and the community. The world is in sore need of story tellers and kind souls.

    Thanks for sharing the tribute video. It’s wonderful.


  • I lost two uncles and one aunt this year in the space of 5 months. They all fit perfectly in the demographic of the “Greatest Generation”. Born in the 20’s, grew up in the Great Depression, went off to WWII, and come back home to prosperous middle class lives. But also exemplifying that generation they are disappearing fast.


    • Sorry to hear about the loss of so many in your family. Does it feel like a changing of the guard? Did they live close enough that you could attend the memorials? It’s amazing to think what a span of change they saw in their lifetimes. Any chance anyone will call us the Almost Greatest Generation?

      Wishing the best to you, and the families of your aunt and uncles.


  • The photos of Mark reveals so much about him, and your words describe so well, how much he gave to others. Even the toilet rolls seem a good fit for his memorial service.
    “The more fun you have, the more fun you have.” I love that quote, and can see he shared his gift in huge amounts. Thanks.


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