June 30, 1951 — April 12, 2019
Mark Thomas Vornbrock (67), a loving husband, father, grandfather and friend, passed away suddenly Friday, April 12, 2019, while doing errands in Seattle.
The fourth of nine children, Mark was born in West Seattle to J. Thomas and Peggy (Helmann) Vornbrock. He attended Holy Family Grade school, rode bikes with his siblings and neighborhood friends, exhibited early signs of his strong work ethic with a paper route at a young age, and around Grade 6 became enamored with racing pigeons. Along with other young enthusiasts in his neighborhood, Mark built a coop in his backyard and thus began his lifelong love of these gentle birds, an appropriate parallel to the gentle man he would grow to be. He built his flock by climbing the bell tower at the Arbor Heights Community Church to trap birds, and with gifts from the lofts of other breeders. Eventually Mark’s birds began winning ribbons and medals.
Mark was a member of the first graduating class of John F. Kennedy High School in Burien, in 1970, a unique cohort with a new staff of teachers not much older than the students. Kennedy High began with just the freshmen class, of which Mark was a member. Mark’s class remained the oldest in the school, as each year they added a new freshman class until the 1969-1970 school year, when they had a full-fledged student body. During the first years, the school was so small that every able student was required to play football in order to have a full team. Coached by Lou Tice, who would go on to found the Pacific Institute, these athletes were the first to experience Lou’s philosophies of “Goal Setting” and “Social Cognitive Theory.” Lou’s early influence on Mark cannot be overstated, helping to shape his infectiously positive mind-over-matter attitude, which remained a major part of his character throughout his life. During those years at Kennedy, Mark formed many strong friendships, which he maintained for life.
In the early 1980s Mark and his brothers, Greg and Max, became active partners in Vornbrock and Sons Construction, a continuation of the company founded by their father in 1952. Hundreds of their single-family residences, many multi-family apartments, medical buildings and commercial spaces dot West Seattle, Burien and Vashon Island neighborhoods. Mark was especially proud of his single-family homes and put a great deal of thought into every aspect of their construction, going so far as to custom design fixtures and furniture to ensure his vision was met. He had a keen sense of style, balance and quality in his craftsmanship. He was a stickler for detail and, much to some folk’s chagrin, if the job wasn’t up to his standards he ordered it re-done! Mark had the good fortune early in his career to work alongside many talented craftsmen, including Hans, a master cabinet maker from Germany, and Imants, a Latvian stone mason, fostering a deep appreciation for the specialized knowledge and skills needed to excel in the trades.
Besides Mark’s career he enjoyed landscaping at home and was a voracious reader. His Magnum Opus was his family, for whom he would do anything. He was patient, kind, soft-spoken and generous.
Mark gave up his pigeon loft on Vashon Island years ago as his birds were constantly beleaguered by the local hawk population. His long-range plan was to relocate to Arizona for the majority of the year to be near his grandchildren and begin racing pigeons once again.
Mark was preceded in death by his beloved son, Bryan; both parents; brothers, Bill and Karl; nephew, Martin; niece, Marisa; brother-in-law, Mike Davis and father-in-law, James Davey. He leaves behind his wife and partner of 46 years, Joyce; their children, Andrew (Amanda), Sarah (Lee), and Laura (Curtis); grandsons, Tyler and James; and sweet granddaughter, Stella. Surviving family members include siblings Karen Rice (Brendan), Greg (Candace), Max (Anna), sister-in-law Eunjie Vornbrock, Eroca Evans (Robin), Suzie, and Shari (Afa); 20 nieces and nephews; 18 great-nieces and nephews; mother-in-law, Marjorie Davey; brother-in-law, J. Thomas Davey; and sister-in-law, Mary Davey Swope (Robert).
Please join the family for a CELEBRATION OF LIFE, SUNDAY, APRIL 28TH, 2:00 PM at THE HALL AT FAUNTLEROY, 9131 California Ave. SW, Seattle. (Casual attire, the way Mark would want it.)
One of Mark’s pet peeves was the lack of regard for the trades. For this reason, the “Mark T. Vornbrock Advancement of Skilled Trades Scholarship” has been created in Mark’s honor to benefit Vashon Island High School graduates pursuing careers as skilled tradespeople. Contributions may be made online by visiting http://www.vashonscholarshipfoundation.org/ or by check payable to VCSF and mailed to PO Box 1413, Vashon, WA 98070. Please note “Mark T. Vornbrock Scholarship” in the memo line.