September 9, 2013, Mark Kevin Atkinson passed from this world, after a brief but courageous battle with cancer, surrounded by family and friends. His last moments were quiet, peaceful and without pain.
Mark was born in Denver, Colo., October 10, 1956, and moved to North Platte, Neb., in 1960, after his father, Roger, was killed in a car accident. His mother, Kathleen, married Stuart Atkinson in 1961, and Stuart adopted both Mark and his older sister, Deborah. In 1963, the family moved to Ashland, Ore., for Stuart's new teaching position at Southern Oregon College. Mark's family was joined by the births of two younger sisters, Denise and Michele.
Mark attended public schools in Ashland, and in his junior year he left Ashland and moved to Arizona to attend mechanical technical school.
Mark returned to the Rogue Valley in 1981 when Stuart was diagnosed with terminal cancer.
When Mark moved back to Ashland he decided he wanted to try his hand at farming: raising rabbits and chickens, and growing a garden of fruits and vegetables and other questionable vegetation. Once said vegetation was removed by Mom, in addition to the neighbor's (Mrs. Bailey) repeated calls to get the rabbits out of her planting beds, Mark realized farming wasn't his cup of tea.
Mark was an incredible mechanic and handy-man, and could fix just about anything if he put his mind to it. He was a Jack-of-all-Trades and master of most. Mark worked as a mechanic/millwright in a number of positions throughout the Rogue Valley: Dexon 4-wheel Drive Center, Sobroso, PPA, and Associated Fruit where he made life-long friends.
Mark had a colorful life. One of his greatest attributes was his ability to make people laugh He could tell a story so straight-faced and serious that you weren't quite sure if it was true When you finally realized he was pulling your leg, you would laugh so hard the tears would come. His comedic timing on the punch line was always perfect and would get you every time (regardless of how often you heard the same joke!).
He delighted in going to lunch with his Mom at least once a week, where they would chat, tell stories/jokes and share precious time together.
He loved the outdoors and would drop everything at the chance to go fishing, especially along the Rogue River, with his good friend Mac, or hunting with his long-time friend and roommate, Ivan. Mark and Ivan also enjoyed logging and branding/herding the cattle together.
Mark loved to shoot pool with his buddies and was pretty good at it too, AKA: pool shark, and had been known to sing Roy Rogers in hopes for free beer.
Mark loved tools, but can't say they loved him back. In school he garnered the nickname Mark Accidentson. He definitely earned it throughout his life: he was bitten by a bat, nearly sliced off his thumb (not once, but twice) and broke more bones than we care to remember. But through it all, he maintained his humor. Even after losing two of his fingers, he would say gimme a high five uh no, how about a high three!
Yes, he was a character.
He leaves behind his mother Kathleen, sisters Deborah, Denise (Gil) and Michele (Gordon), children Jennifer and Tyler, nephews Isaiah and Luke, a plethora of friends and a legacy of laughter.
Bless Ashland Hospice, AllCare health services, and Ivan, Cheryl and Rachel for their amazing care and compassion through Mark's illness.
A memorial service to celebrate Mark's life will be held Sunday Sep 29, 2013.
In lieu of flowers, please consider donating to Ashland Hospice.
We'll remember Mark always for his life of adventure, for his laughter, and our new family. We're so relieved that he's free of pain and no longer suffering. Once again we are reminded that life is a precious gift.