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Farewell To Mark

I told the class last week that a friend of mine at work had a major cardiac event and was on life support.

I am saddened to say that my friend, Mark, passed away on July 21, 2011. I have just returned from his memorial service here at work. I suppose this may have no place on the dojo’s blog but I wanted to post it never the less.

For those of you outside of the dojo that don’t know, I work at a prison. I have been in Corrections for well over 23 years. In this enviroment there aren’t many bright people or bright points of light. Mark was one of those shining ones. He was quick with a smile or a joke. It was hard to not smile when he was around. Mark never hesitated for one second to help anyone out no matter the problem. He was an avid hunter and fisherman.

Mark leaves his wife and two daughters who he loved very much. His family was always a major part of his conversations. He also leaves his family and hundreds of co-workers whose lives he touched every day.

I was allowed to speak briefly at the service. Words came very hard for me. I told the story of the night I first met Mark. I was working in one of the mobile patrols. It is our job to patrol and monitor the perimiter fence throughout our shift. We are the last line of defense in case of an escape or disturbance. I was sitting in my truck settling in for the long night. Graveyard shift at the prison, though the quietest shift is most often the longest shift. This kid pulls up to me and said “Look, I’m not stupid”, that made me actually start to listen to him. He continued, “I’ve hunted and fished all of my life but these weapons…I’m not sure of them and I really don’t want to blow my head or foot off my first night on post”. I took time and went over all three of the loading and clearing proceedures with him. He did something that very few young officers have the guts to do: he asked. When he drove off I said to myself, “That kid is going to be something special. He’s going to be a good officer”. Twelve years later I am proud to say that I was right.

I placed a makeshift sign in the dojo doorway in memorial to Mark. It’s not much just a simple posterboard sign. Please do me the honor of taking a moment when you come in and see that sign to say a prayer or have a good thought of him and his family.
Goodbye Mark. the world is a better place because of you. We will miss you, Little Brother.

  1. July 25, 2011 at 10:03 am

    One of the most touching parts of the service was the “Last Call”.

    We were instructed to turn our radios to channel 1. Channel 1 is the channel where the most activity is of all of the channels. Control Center moderates and runs it’s Institution. Control announces everything from running of the meals to calling all staff when a disturbance occurs or staff needs assistance.

    “Last Call” goes something like this:

    “USP Control to Counselor Foraker (Mark)”

    A short beak. No ther radio traffic.

    “USP Control to Counselor Foraker”

    Another short break with radio silence.

    “USP Control to Counselor Foraker. This is your last call.”

    Radio Silence.

    “USP Control to Counselor Foraker, we know your 20. Carry on.”

    Radio Silence.

    “USP Control…
    …over…and out”

  2. August 6, 2011 at 5:59 pm

    I can feel the sadness in you, sensei. Being with him almost everyday for years, then suddenly, he’s gone. I can’t imagine the sadness.

    I’m surprised too that you work for the Dept. of Corrections. My father does too, but as a Computer programmer ! Talk of coincidences…. he’s been with Corrections since 1995, his first and only job here since he immigrated.

  3. August 7, 2011 at 10:13 am

    I worked for the State of MO for 2 1/2 years then got on with Feds in 1991.

    We will miss Mark for a long time. I can only hope that in this life I touch as many people’s lives as he did.

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