March 5, 1957 — December 22, 2017
Mark James Held was born on March 5, 1957. His parents, Jim and Bunny, and his three younger brothers Mike, Bob and Rick, formed a happy household in his hometown of West Seattle. He and his brothers were avid athletes – spending hours playing sports, football, biking, basketball and swimming. Perhaps not the best athlete of the four brothers (but the biggest and oldest!), his love of sports continued throughout his life to include skiing, hiking, and boating.
After graduating from West Seattle High School, he began to work his way through college at Highline Community College. On his very first day of class, he met Pam Coplin — his soon to be best friend, and partner in life. They shared the next 42 years, in love, together.
Mark and Pam were married at age 23, and soon were looking to make a home of their own. Growing tired of apartment living, Mark and Pam began to fall in love with Vashon Island during one of their many weekend adventures. Mark took out a loan from Pam’s grandmother to purchase a 2.5 acre parcel of fully wooded land atop Burton hill. They lived in a trailer for 7 years to save money while they were in graduate school and working. Mark was always looking to the future, excited for school, work, new projects and long-term goals. Upon finishing his MBA, Mark was hired by his future mentor and lifelong friend Gordon Younger, the CEO of Seattle Packaging. Starting as a plant manager, Mark grew with the company, eventually becoming president of the corporation. Gordon and Mark were lifelong Democrats and lived their ideals by running a business that strives to protect the environment, take care of its employees, and provide great healthcare for everyone.
Together, they believed deeply in healthcare as a fundamental human right, and the company’s ethics continue to reflect their principles. At home on the island, Mark’s two wonderful children Tayt and Claire were born. He always said their two birthdays were the best days of his life. Over time the family property grew to 10 acres, the trailer disappeared and in its place a home, outbuildings, and gardens were designed by and dreamed into life by Mark. The Held’s circle of friends from the island and work filled Mark’s days and years with joy and laughter, memorable travels, long discussions over fine wine, and a true sense of community.
When diagnosed with cancer at age 56, Mark was often asked what was on his bucket list—his answer was always, “I don’t need a bucket list. I’m perfectly happy with my life right now.” The only thing he wanted was more days to spend with people he loved. In the last weeks of his life he began to write to Tayt, Claire and Pam. Among his chapter titles were: “Being True to Yourself, Life is not Fair, Marriage to your Best Friend, Vacation Memories, Importance of Family & Home, The Scourge of Cancer, Reading History to Keep an Open Mind, Travel to Keep an Open Heart, My Friends, and Focus on the Positive.” The last entry that Mark wrote was, “My Fortunate Life.”
Mark gave generously and spent his time working for many causes. On Vashon at Camp Burton there are camp weeks for children with cancer and one sibling. With nurses and staff donating their time, it is free to the families and lets kids forget their cancer for a while. Mark loved this camp and its purpose.
Remembrance donations can be sent to www.thegoodtimesproject.org.