In his own words:
I have had an incredibly lucky life. I was fortunate to have been born in Canada not long after the end of World War II, just as Canadian society was on the cusp of great change. For most, the standard of living increased dramatically. By the time I was a young adult we had universal Medicare, unemployment insurance, the Canada Pension Plan and old age security. University education was affordable and unemployment rates were low. All of these factors meant that, notwithstanding that I was born into very modest circumstances (neither of my parents finished high school) I was able to have a very successful and comfortable life.
I grew up in Brandon, Manitoba but left to go to university in Winnipeg, where I continued to live after graduating. It was there that I met my first wife, Cathy. After a short career as a professional engineer, I went back to university to get a law degree. I worked for several years as a litigator for Manitoba Public Insurance.
In the mid-1990s I felt the need to shake up my life. Within the space of two years I quit my job, went back to university to get an MBA, moved to Calgary, got a new job, divorced my wife and met my new wife, Sarah Dafoe.
In Calgary I became the head of the city’s litigation branch. I loved living and working in Calgary, but I left for Edmonton in 2004 to be with Sarah, who had moved back there for family reasons. We married shortly after. Meeting Sarah was another unbelievably lucky thing that happened to me. She is a wonderful woman who loved me as deeply and passionately as I loved her. It is only recently that I have come to realize how rare it is for people to find their soulmates.
In Edmonton I was the head of the city’s litigation section. I loved being a litigator and being in court. Early on in my legal career I realized that I had a real knack for courtroom work. It’s not often that cross-examinations unfold the way they’re depicted on TV, but I had several that did. I never tired of telling people about them.
I retired in 2013. For several years after that I was a member of Edmonton’s subdivision and development appeal board. That was a great experience for me that allowed me to use my legal training and experience. I particularly enjoyed writing decisions that involved complex legal issues.
I am survived by my dear wife, Sarah Dafoe; my amazing 96-year old mother, Pearl Young of Winnipeg (who continues to be more active than most 60-year olds!); my sister Toni Russell of Kelowna and her daughters Carlie and Michelle; and my sister Teri Young (Lorne Rear) of Winnipeg and her children Jenny and Charlie.
It was a fantastic life. Thank you to everyone I met along the way who made it so rich and memorable.
A Celebration of Life will be held at a later date.
Donations in memory of Mark may be made to the Alberta Cancer Foundation.