Eulogy for Mark Dow Forsyth
Delivered at his memorial service by Daniel Forsyth on November 10th, 2009.
Mark was born on December 3rd, 1955 at the Utah Valley Hospital in Provo, UT. He was the fourth of five children of Gordon James Forsyth and Nadene Dow Forsyth. His family moved to Arlington, Virginia when he was three years old and he spent the rest of his youth there. He grew up playing clarinet in the family jazz band as well as in the Metropolitan Police Boys’ Club Band.
Mark’s mother Nadene was a school teacher and she played lead saxophone in her band “Nadene and the Nu Tones.” Nadene passed away in 2001. Mark’s father Gordon is here with us today and worked for the Department of Agriculture in Washington D.C. prior to retirement.
Mark received many blessings throughout his life, but none that he cherished more than his wife, Elizabeth. I cannot count the number of times my Dad told me how lucky I am to have such a wonderful, loving mother, and on a daily basis he openly expressed his love for her to us and to her. We all honor you, Mom, for the loyalty and love you gave to your husband, and for the joy that you brought to him throughout his mortal journey.
At 19, Mark served a volunteer mission in Taiwan for two years, where he learned to speak Mandarin Chinese. It was during this time that he began to realize his remarkable ability to influence others for good. He entered a certain city where the Church attendance was dwindling. Armed with a message of happiness and with love in his heart, he put all his efforts into reviving the faith of that small community. Only a few months later, he was sent to his next assignment, and as he arrived at the train station, he was met by a sizeable crowd of grateful converts to the gospel of Jesus Christ to see him off.
Throughout his life, certain convictions were formed and fixed in my Dad. He believed that we should strive to know and do the will of God. He believed that a life of service to others was a life well spent. He put the needs of others before his own needs – always. He believed in the power of prayer and in the virtue of obedience to a higher power. His knowledge and wisdom were not retained only by him, but were shared with all who came in contact with him.
After his mission, Mark met the love of his life, Liz at Brigham Young University and they were married in the Oakland, California temple of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. They moved to the San Francisco Bay Area where Mark continued his career in investments, and where they raised their four boys.
Mark believed in working hard and playing hard. He excelled in his work and his computer screensaver currently shows a scrolling text that reads “First Things First.” He was highly respected in his profession and helped many people along a path to financial success. The morning after his death, he would have been traveling to a business conference in Texas. As the news of his death spread through the conference attendees that morning, many tears were shed and the entire conference took on a much more somber tone. The sheer number of people he has helped and influenced for good in a professional setting is remarkable.
When it was time to play, Dad was an avid outdoorsman. He loved to scuba dive, snow ski, rock climb, and kayak. He loved to skeet shoot, mountain bike, fly fish, and backpack. When I was five years old, he took me on a 12 mile backpacking trip. At one point we lost the trail and spent a few hours with our map and compass trying to find it again. When we finally found it, he let me think that he couldn’t have done it without me, and I felt like I had saved the day. Sixteen years later, he and I hiked the Inca Trail in Peru from Cuzco to Machu Picchu. I have many fond memories of campfires, bike rides, playing catch, and fishing trips. I also have a memory of a trip to the emergency room after my Dad got a fly hook stuck in his scalp while learning to fly fish. That was the first of three reluctant visits to Tahoe Forest Hospital needing a fly hook removed from his skin. As the years went by, the adventures only got better.
Family togetherness was very important to my Dad. One tradition in our family was to hold hands around the dinner table as we prayed over the food. The moments between grasping hands and starting the prayer would often turn into an awkwardly comical situation when guests were present, because after we were holding hands, Dad would start talking about something. We didn’t want to interrupt him, so we would just hold our guest’s hand until the conversation was over, or until someone exclaimed, “Dad, let’s pray already!”
On one family trip when I was about 10, we went skiing with two other families in Lake Tahoe. One of the boys who was about my age at the time did not wear any eye protection during the first sunny day of skiing. That night, his eyes hurt so badly that he could not sleep or see very well and began to cry. Dad put his hands on the boy’s head and gave him a blessing, telling him that his eyes would recover and that he would get some sleep. Before the blessing was over, the boy was asleep. He happily skied the next day – after buying a pair of sunglasses.
In 2003, Mark moved to Doylestown, Pennsylvania for an upgraded employment opportunity. While there, he was called to be the Branch President for a group of young single adult church members. Mark immersed himself into this calling completely, spending his evenings counseling these young single adults in every aspect of their lives. He provided a Christlike example to them, and I know that for many of them he is like a second father. His sudden and tragic death took place while coming home late at night from his counseling meetings where he again showed his amazing ability to influence others for good.
Although my dad only had four biological sons during his time on earth, there are more that think of him as their second father, or in some cases, their only real father figure of their youth. He took in and looked after many people, especially his sons’ friends and peers. Those who know Mark best know him to be the ultimate host, always caring for those with whom he shared his home, whether it lasted only for an evening, or multiple years. His hospitality emulated the words of his favorite hymn, “A Poor Wayfaring Man of Grief.” He always shared his bread, his drink, his coat, his home, his healing and his life with his fellow man. May we strive to use our talents for the good of others, just as Mark used his talents to make each of our lives more special and meaningful.