"There are no
ordinary people..."
C. S. Lewis

Mark Edward Smith

Born: 
Wednesday, November 14, 1956
Died: 
Thursday, November 3, 2011
Birthplace: 
Portland Oregon

Our beloved friend passed at home in Sumas, Washington. He lived nearly 55 full years. He had been fighting a drawn-out battle with lymphatic cancer, enduring a stem cell transplant in early 2010, and had several other health complications including HIV.

He was born in Portland OR; attended Concordia Lutheran and Jefferson High Schools, managing to graduate from both. He attended Lane Community College, the University of Oregon, and much later graduated from Northwest Indian College in Washington State.

He was a true original: a creative, clear thinker, a vocal social critic, an accomplished community activist-- and always a champion of the less fortunate. Sympathetic, inquisitive, skeptical, a lightning fast wit, and always a willing ear. As a rule, life for Mark was about quality over quantity.

Mark was a powerhouse of directed energy throughout his entire life. He began rocking boats before he was out of high school. He won Jefferson High School student government election (1975), by pasting small yellow stickies with only his last name all over the school. Around that time he once went missing overnight while winter camping with the boy scouts on Mt. Hood. Mark just wanted to camp alone, not aware that a search party was formed to go looking for him. He loved the outdoors and had numerous stories about encounters with bears and other wildlife at his vacation cabin in the Simon Fraser Valley, British Columbia, Canada.

He wrote plays (one which was produced at U of O) and always enjoyed well written stories; books, movies, graphic novels, etc-- so long as there were interesting characters and compelling plots dealing with what mattered most to him-- the ethos and constructs of societal morals, ethics, and values. If the story also involved Sci-Fi or time travel then that was all the better.

His activism in the 1980's included occupying San Francisco city hall, at the height of societal nonchalance and willful ignorance of the ongoing AIDS epidemic; the protest including his photo was featured in an article in National Geographic magazine (June 1986).

In the late 1980's through 1994 while living in Vancouver B.C. he was the lover of James Hall whom he nursed throughout his battle with AIDS, and was thereafter an "adopted" son of the Hall family. After James' death, Mark maintained ties with the Hall's and subsequently handled all arrangements at the end of both of James' parents' (Gene Hall and John Hall) lives.

He created noteworthy artwork that was displayed at a Vancouver gallery (consisting of a red 10 foot pole, signifying how, at one time, people might have preferred to treat people with AIDS).

He created a non-profit "501(c)3" to support people with HIV in Whatcom County, which he called Positive Frontiers. He was instrumental in setting up another 501(c)3 in Whatcom County called Ti-Chee; working to fight the spread of HIV in the Native American community. For that last ten years, he was active in the Mennonite community's Lighthouse program across the border in Abbottsford, BC (serving as board chairman). He met, inspired, and loved both people with and without AIDS across the US, Canada, and the island of Cuba. He also loved poker, Alaska deep sea fishing, camping, and home canning.

He met his partner Dennis while living in Seattle in 1996 and they later made their way to Sumas in 2000. Together they rebuilt a cabin in the wilds of Boston Bar aka Hell's Gate, in the Fraser Canyon of BC, and as always Mark reached out to, charmed, and helped out the locals whenever he went.

Mark is proceeded in death by his mother Trudy Smith, father Russell J. Smith, and step sister Marcia Reed. He is survived by his brothers David, James, and Stephen; his step mother Leona Smith, step sisters Debbra Smith, LaNita Stephens, Angie Smith, Joy Wallace; step brother Wendell Wallace Jr; and a great many loving nephews, nieces, cousins, friends, and his partner Dennis Brandt. Donations in lieu of flowers please to the Whatcom County Hospice Foundation. Mark, We will carry you in our hearts always.

Guestbook Entries

Submitted by Hagrid on

Death, thank you brother, for circling with the Radical Faeries. You made us face an uncomfortable subject in your choice of Faerie names. We love and cherish you. Hagrid

Submitted by Kevin Saya-Moore on

I will remember you. I have been changed because I knew you. Thank you, Mark!

Submitted by Willie on

Mark, you are one of a kind, never ashamed of who you are or what you think. You taught me so much. Thank you for being you.
Till we meet again,
Namaste my friend

Submitted by Ken Buchanan on

I will never forget all the good times we had. Mark taught me so much about life, living with HIV and how to better myself. His daily ( or two or more) phone calls, were allways interesting, inspiring or just plain fun!
He was such a kind caring person!

Submitted by Jean Norwood (W... on

On behalf of Mark's Great Aunt, Annie Whitlow & family, first cousin Linda Washington & Family, we love you and may God comfort you in his loving arms. Rest In Peace!

Submitted by Daniel on

Mark, it was a pleasure meeting you, so many years ago, and I look forward to the time we will see each other once again. Your smiling face will forever be etched into my memory.

Submitted by Shannon Carlisle on

You touched the lives of so many... Inspired the best of us at the worst of times... you will be truly missed...

Submitted by Christian Poiri... on

In the short time I got to know him, I learned that he was a very outgoing and open minded, and compassionate. He will be truly be missed by his family, friends, and colleagues.. Goodbye my friend

Submitted by Sprinkle (Armez) on

Though I hadn't seen Mark/Death and his partner for quite some time, they were both in my thoughts. There are no real words to convey my feelings about Mark. He was a great foil to my intellect, always challenging in a friendly and meaningful way. I have to say that I have missed my connection to both Mark and his partner of so many years, Dennis.

I have the feeling that there is so mcuh more that I will miss now that you are gone, Mark. Rest peacefully in the next plane until we meet again.

Armez - Sprinkle

Submitted by Kathy Reim on

On behalf of Skagit PFLAG, and even more coming from my heart, I want to pay tribute to Mark and his life of courage and unselfish devotion to others. He came to us to help start Positive Frontiers and we were so encouraged by his efforts and outreach in such an important supportive role. I love remembering the last time I saw him at Bellingham Pride as he sat in the sun, and I held his hand. I will add him to so many others my family has loved on Dec. 1. We must never forget.

Submitted by Nancy Perry on

When I worked at the Sumas Post Office, Mark was a customer of mine. I didn't know of his personal life. He was always a polite & a courteous,mild mannered, impressive young man. I always felt that somehow he was a special person. Now I have read how truly kind & caring & special he was. It was an honor to have been able to be in his presence during his time here on Earth. I pray for comfort & peace for all he left behind. Sincerely, Nancy

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