I can't believe I haven't posted this up yet... It's a portrait that I did back in '06 for the family and friends of my brother-in-law's brother, Mark. I myself didn't have the good fortune to spend much time with Mark, but whenever I did see him he was always at the ready with a great big smile and warm hug. He was one of the most genuine, caring people I have ever met and my own life is richer knowing him.
One vivid memory I have of him was at my own father's funeral. As I stood in front of the casket, having a pretty hard time dealing with my dad's passing at such a young age, Mark came up to me, put his arm around my shoulders and said in such a gentle, reassuring way, "It'll be ok, Steve. It'll be ok." I had heard that from many people that day, but when Mark uttered those words, it resonated in a way that really helped me cope. I'll forever be grateful to him for doing that.
Although he was born with Downs syndrome, he acheived much in his lifetime. Graduated at 25 from John F. Kennedy Special Education school, competed in Special Olympics for years, winning medals in swimming, wrestling and basketball, was on the Community Handicap Awareness Team, loved to dance and attend Greenbay packer football games and participated in many community events. He loved music and got a big kick out of imitating Luciano Pavarotti.
Here's some exerpts from a local newspaper published shortly after his passing:
"For nearly 50 years, Mark, 52, was an icon in the community - his life, a tribute to society's acceptance and appreciation of handicapped individuals."
"A social butterfly, he touched the lives of an entire spectrum of people."
Indeed he did.
So, here's my personal tribute to my friend, Mark: