Sunday, May 3, 2015

Smith River MT July 2006

I recently re-found this great photo of Mark in his element… it was taken in July of 2006 during a 5 day self guided float (that is Mark guided the rest of us: Ben, Pete, Me/Graham) down the smith river in Montana.  We had the time of our lives on this trip.  It was an incredible adventure and one of my fondest memories of Mark and favorite times of all my life up to this point.   

Love this photo, back from when we still used film (imagine that). 

Miss this dude tremendously. 

Be inspired by the life Mark breathed-lived-pursued.  Seek live find adventure.  Don't wait.  

Friday, May 4, 2012

A Blessed Journey

I’m sure anyone that hung out with Mark while sharing in his passion for fishing can relate to a few of these things.  The journey to the fishing hole was typically a long and arduous ordeal in of itself … and I hope also illustrates a part of the character of Mark that we all loved.

The drive in was never shorter than an hour and always a wonderful intertwining of what bug to start with, what back-up plan to account for muddy water, and what really mattered – how we lived our lives, how we loved our wives, how we could find time again.  It also usually involved consuming a bag of Twizzlers heated up nicely while baking on the dash of the car. 

As soon as we arrived at our destination it was a race to see if I could get my gear together and line rigged before Mark.  I never actually took time to watch him rig up because I’d be hopelessly left behind.   But I could never understand with all the un-organized mess of gear spread throughout the truck how Mark would be ready and waiting for me.  He would end up graciously tying on my final dropper saying something to the effect, “I think this one will be the ticket today Engie.”  It was, of course, an impossibly small bug he whipped up the night before and completely different than the one I foolishly had chosen.

I can’t remember a single fishing outing with Mark that didn’t start with a hike.  We’d never just pull up to a river and step into the water.  There was always a journey to preempt the fishing.  Part of the reason was to simply walk past the holes that see the most fishing pressure but with Mark it was always beyond that point.  It’s like he had to hone into the ebbs and flows of the river before starting.  Mark would almost always be in the lead with the pace of his stride unconstrained by his excitement.  He’d be ever surveying the water surface, peering into the slick water for the flash of a trout’s side or the subtle dimple of a surface strike.  I’d do the same but still catch glimpse (or think I did) of only a third of the fish he’d point out.  We’d often walk up or down river for a few miles before ever wetting the line. 

Mark had an unwavering belief that around the next bend was the premiere fishing hole.  And if it wasn’t, he would commit it to memory as a landmark for next time.  I’ll admit at times my patience would waiver, wanting to just try my luck.  This was one of the many reasons that I was never half the fisherman Mark was.  His patience and endurance were unquenchable.  And Mark would always lead us to a spot that we could both fish while remaining in fellowship the entire time.  I guess that is what I miss most; time spent with Mark was always real.  Not diluted with distractions and not masked with phony chatter.  Time spent with Mark was fellowship.  Beyond friendship; beyond fishing.  It just doesn’t happen enough, particularly for guys, to share in pure fellowship.
Five years ago Mark took the lead in an even more glorious adventure with our Father in  heaven.  Perhaps God realized there was no river on earth long enough to satisfy Mark’s spirit.  In no way can that account for the loss of not having him with us.  But I do look forward to the day when I can again fellowship with Mark in an even more glorious and wonderful place.  Until then I can only be thankful for many lessons I learned from Mark, and the wealth of rich memories of fellowship with him.

A Memory from Bill

Its hard to believe but I first met Mark over sixteen years ago.  Shockingly enough our first conversation was about hunting and fishing.  Over the course of our friendship I was fortunate to spend many quality hours with Mark in the field, on the water, in Bible study, playing golf or just hanging out.  I am forever thankful for these times and have many precious memories.  Over the past five years there have been numerous things or words that will take me back to these memories.  I'll start day dreaming about the hunting trip to Argentina or playing golf at Stonewall.  I'll think about fishing in Montana, where on one trip the guide was so amazed at Leeky's fishing prowess that he dubbed him Hoover, because Mark was sucking all the fish out of the river.  Or I'll think about the annual golf trips down to Chicago in which the guys and girls would split up in separate vehicles.  Upon arrival we would share the differences in conversations between the girls car and the guys car.  The girls would talk about what qualities of their husbands they want their kids to inherit while the guys would debate if all four of us could beat up Mike Tyson if we attacked him all at once.  Regardless of what ever triggers the memory, they put a smile on face, cause me to get chocked up and often times lead to tears....but without fail, they always remind me of the incredible person that Mark was!  I could write for days about the numerous hunting and fishing stories but one situation in particular has really stuck with me over the years.

It was the fall of 1998, we were in our senior year of college and bunch of us guys, Mark included, rented a house near campus.  The summer leading up to this, my grandma had been diagnosed with ovarian cancer and her condition had gotten worse by the time we returned for school.  Up until Mark's death this was the hardest situation I had ever dealt with.  One night I came back from visiting my grandma at the Mayo Clinic and came into the house.  Mark was sitting on the couch and I burst into tears as I walked in the room and could barely get out any words to tell him that she wasn't doing well.  He came over to me and gave me a huge hug and began praying for me and my family.  A few days later, my grandma passed away and her funeral followed shortly thereafter.  At the funeral we were gathered in a room for a special family meeting and when I came out of the room, there was Mark.  Standing in the hallway of the church waiting for me and my family.  What was amazing about this is that I didn't tell any of the guys the details of the funeral, largely in part because in was 2.5 hours away from campus and during school.  Somehow Mark found out when and where everything was and made the 5 hour round trip to be there for me and my family.  That was the kind of friend and person he was!!!    

Thursday, May 3, 2012

A Memory from The Engbloms

Sarah, you had also asked for a memory and among one of my favorites was when we lived in New Mexico and I was sitting in our dining room feeding Ella and heard crashing outside.  I looked out our window only to see Pete sitting on the ground laughing and Mark running among all the cacti and thorny bushes with Magnus close behind him.   Pete was flying our kite - which is one we bought when we lived in Oregon to fly on the coast – it is huge and has a big sharp point on the end.  Pete was trying to hit Mark with it.  The two of them spent about an hour laughing and dodging this kite, taking turns trying to take the other one out.  They were like little kids who had invented this game that honestly made no sense to me at all.  I can still see them and hear them laughing.

As the sun started to set they finally came in for dinner and took time pulling all the cactus twines out of their shoes, clothes and Magnus and talked over who had been better at aiming and the best duck and weaving techniques.  Mark brought out a part of Pete that was crazy and I miss it.  I got a small glimpse of it when we joined a group of friends a few years back to ski in Colorado.  I remember Sarah asking Pete to take her to the top of the mountain like they used to with Mark.  Pete’s eyes and face lit up in a way that I haven’t seen since Mark was by his side.  Thank you Sarah and John and Vicky for sharing Mark with us.  Thank you, thank you, thank you.

A note to all of my friends whom I have shared life with either because of Mark or with Mark

Hey Fellas,

Thinking of you all today.  Thinking of Mark today.  I can't believe 5 years have passed since the king of adventure moved on from this temporal earth to eternal life in what must have been one of the most intense final moments I could ever imagine.  We used to scope out cliffs to hit while skiing together and rapids to shoot while fishing together.  We used to stand on river banks planning how we could wade across rushing rivers arm in arm and get swept downstream or take water over our waders.  And I laughed and hooted loud enough so that Mark could hear over the rushing water as I watched from safety when he would cross that river alone.  None of that even comes close to what Mark experienced.  And yet, even that intensity and tragedy pales in comparison to where he is today in heaven.

Adventure is amazing.  Adventure is life-giving.  And then every once and a while, life takes.  

I remember being very jealous that he was headed out to Allan's ranch and was about to embark on 2 days of a guided float of the Bear Trap Canyon.  If you are unfamiliar with the location, it is below the dam in Ennis on the Madison River.  As I recall, only 2 outfitters could guide that water by permit and it had to be done via licensed outfitters with rafting boats shooting through sections of class V rapids.  You guys know what I am talking about.... typical Wauterlek conditions... no sissies allowed.  

I think Engie may have been the only other guy to have fished this water with me and with Mark.  We didn't float it though, we hiked for it.  We earned it.  I remember walking this trail a solid 2 miles in from the parking lot and jumping back in terror as we came a few feet from at least half a dozen rattlesnakes.  We made Engie walk in front with his neoprene waders.  Mark and I stayed behind and giggled and snickered all along the way.  

Along our path upriver, huge 12 foot pools with water ripping a foot from the bank made the average man turn back.  We scrambled multiple times up 200 yards of boulder cliffs and down the other side in waders, banging our reels against the rocks because the water was impassible along the bank.   My reel and college ring still carry the marks from those days.   On one occasion we decided to take the river route around another canyon wall.  We waded on our tippy-toes along a cliff-face that was absolutely full of spider webs & spiders.  Mark hated spiders.  Engie and I both took in water over our waders.  Mark, even though being the shortest, walked across unscathed.  Typical. 

The reward?  Massive 20-25" trout crushing the surface for salmonflies like killer whales chasing seals.  It was incredible.  It was the first time I fished the salmon fly hatch.  And after trying another 5 years or so years in a row, I discovered in hindsight the hard way that that time was the "best of the best" in timing the world famous salmonfly hatch.  It was one of those trips where you had no idea how "on" it was, until the day was done and the individual stories were swapped among the party and fish counts were too hard to tally.  Only then, did you discover that you just experienced the pinnacle of something that was "as good as it gets."  After that year, we tried to time a lot of other late June trips to Montana and scouted a lot of water to find the elusive front side of the hatch.  The hatch can move miles upriver each day with great weather or shut off completely with cool temps.  Even if you do find what seems to be the right spot, the bugs are so big that the fish quickly gorge and you might think you are in the perfect spot with bugs everywhere only to find you are throwing a meat chunk to a gorged lion.

Anyway,  lately I've had a hard time sharing anything other than stories.  The moment I move beyond the story and begin dwelling and reliving and feeling the nostalgia and adventures, I get a big lump in my throat and tears in my eyes.

So, today, I'll keep it simple.  Duininck, short for words (but not really), long on stories... weird eh?

I love you guys.  You are my home team.  Some of you I don't get to see very often.  But know that you've got a special place carved out in my life where I think about you, pray for you, and generally think really positive things about who you are and how you have impacted my life and our journeys and adventures together.  

Integrate and graft the best of Mark into your life so that the best of him lives on.

Cherish the past.  Keep it in a happy place in your heart.  But, do not let it drown you as you cross the treacherous rivers in your life.  Live each day like you might not get another.  Live each day like it is a new day to create new memories and new adventures.  Better yet, live each day in all of its fullness with awareness that there is more to come beyond this world.  Discover what that means.  If you don't know, ask those whom you trust and respect.  Best of all, find God.

I am really grateful to know you and have you as a friend.

-Benjamin H. Duininck

Monday, April 23, 2012

Five Years Ago

Five years ago I was happily married to Mark and we were living in a beautiful home in Glen Ellyn, IL. Five years ago my heart hadn't known the depth of pain that it does now. Five years ago today Mark was still alive. They say that time heals, and it does, but it doesn't forget.

I have come a long way in healing since May 3, 2007. I have embraced life as best as I can and I am even engaged to a wonderful man who has honored my love for Mark. I know that Mark would want this for me. He would want this for all of us. He was that kind of guy.

I loved Mark with all of my heart and I always will. He made me a better person and I am forever grateful for the time I had with him. Great people may come and go in our lives for they are not ours to hold onto, but they will leave a lasting imprint. I am positive that if you knew Mark, he left a lasting imprint on you. As the five year anniversary of his death approaches, I would love to hear how he did this. Whether it is an old memory or a comment about how he impacted you in life or death, please share. Let's share with the intent to not only remember him, but to remind us to live again fully.

We love you Mark.

Monday, June 14, 2010

The adventure "point guard"

As is true with all who knew Mark - our lives are forever stamped with the imprint of who he was and the memory of the good times we shared. One of Mark's gifts was bringing people together. He was the organizer, planner, the schemer truly "the adventure point-guard" for so many people.

Since Mark's death, a group of us have been fishing together once or twice a year. We all met through Mark. Mark worked in MN with Eric, met and became fishing buddies with Steve when Steve worked at a fly shop, went to college with Tony Barthel, met Ben ended up rooming with him for a summer in College, met and became neighbors and hunting buddies with Tony Coniaris through Ben, etc.

Mark was the hub who brought all of us together. This past April (2010) we all re-connected (or 5th or 6th trip together since Mark's death) on the Muskegon river for some Steelhead fishing. Further proof of Mark's influence we all caught fish, including Ben's first steelie ever:

I guess you could say, our blog was Mark inspired as well... because he was the first guy you called to moan about the one you missed, or brag about the one you landed (or almost landed). The pre- and post-adventure cell phone updates, and text-messages, were part of the routine, an element that extended the adventure just a bit further, a little bit longer.

Monday, July 23, 2007

a note from Hamish

i miss you a lot mark. i miss how you try to tell me to do things and i just pretend i don't hear you. i pretty much know what i need to do as a dog in life, but i always appreciated your input.

I must confess now that sometimes when we were hunting together, i'd all of a sudden get the crazy urge to bust way upfield and out of gun range and flush everything in sight... i know you hated this, but its not like you were gonna punish me. and besides, you have to admit it was pretty funny.

but what i really miss is when your good friends come over and i give them a good scare either via a bark or a bite... i mean i'm talking guys like engie and others that i've known for years. why do i do it? i don't know. i guess it feels good to be naughty.

anyway, i gotta get back to laying around in john and vicky's bed, they woke me up way too early this morning.

oh, i hope you like the pic. i'm pretty much the greatest dog ever and this photo really captures the essence of my dominance on this planet.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Memories from my last big trip with mark

Last year, 2006, graham, mark, pete engblom, and I spent the fourth of july floating the Smith river in Montana. The Smith is known to be one of the most pristine pieces of river wilderness left in Montana where you can literally float for days without seeing any of the outside world. its walls are gigantic sandstone canyons and there are few access points anywhere to be found along the way.

each year for the past decade, mark and i found ourselves scheduling for "just a couple more extra days" of vacation in MT. This last trip was the classic epitome of all of our adventure planning. the conversation went something like this:

"Duininck, what do you think about a July10-14 5 day float of the smith river."

"well, we could do that, or we could do it over the fourth of july so it doesn't take up as much vacation time and most people aren't really working that week anyway.'

"ooooooo... i like the way you're thinking duininck... a little vacation leverage!"

"Better yet leeks, let's leave on friday june 30th, put in for july 1st-5th float trip and then follow it up with 3 or 4 days in big sky and fly out the following sunday and go straight to the office completely wiped out!"

"Now your talking... okay let me see what i can do. i'm totally on board with you."

well the story played out to a T. we had the most adventurous trip that mark and i ever had together, including a dinner of rattlesnake and crayfish when the trout eluded us around dinner time.

here is a small excerpt from my journal after the trip was over:

should be going to bed. i should be unpacking my bags that sit by the door. i should be focused on tickers and numbers and balance sheets and newsflow. but how can i? how do i?

a week and a few days spent floating through roaring waters, meandearing through majestic canyons, cruising the valleys and the meadows of Big Sky, has left a hole. no, i'm not referring just to the town. that is simply a fortunately named, fixed location. i'm speaking to all of it. everything experienced in what seemed to be a month wrapped into nine days.

somehow each attempt over the years of satiating the soul via longer stays only makes coming back more difficult. is it possible to live there? we all seem to want it. or do we? it's really hard to say. it's hard to know. would a permanent move prove completely fulfilling? deep down inside i think the answer actually is..... no. no, only because each day would find me asking for more. or maybe i'd grow complacent. or i'd find myself in a state of underappreciating... but i still want it.

and yet i've not even begun to address the relationship factor. the shenanigans. the fulfillment in building strong bonds through memories and conversation.

if time is correlated to light which bends with gravity, is it possible for God to continue to experience the past, the future, and the present all in a continuous moment we refer to as... now?

yeesh. let's just talk salmonflies, stonies, and caddis pupas. or of hit-the-brakes NOW emergency roadstops. or who will hook the next hog. or the nonsensical purpose underwear serves there... but i must admit, i do chuckle at the tangential diatribes.

alas, now it is time to brush the teeth and crawl into bed, so that i can attempt a coherent day in front of the screens. for a brief moment tomorrow, i'm sure i will have to peruse the calendar and begin ticking the days off to the next escapist voyage.

-ben duininck, aka lwf posted by entomologicalcodecrackers at 8:30 PM 0 comments

Thursday, June 21, 2007

From a wife’s perspective…

(photo added by ben: big sky 2002... riding 3 abreast on the bench seat in the grizzly one... the only way we'd ride)

My name is Nicky Engblom and I am married to Pete Engblom “Engie” (sp?).

Pete roomed with Mark through most of college and up until we were married. I am so thankful for the friendship and brotherhood he provided to Pete. They spent countless hours fishing, talking, taking care of Hamish (the dog), laughing and praying. One of my favorite Mark roommate memories is of when they lived in the farmhouse and I was helping them clean and I asked Mark where the vacuum was so I could vacuum up some of the dog hairs. He responded “Oh Nichole you don’t need to vacuum those - just push them aside with your shoe like this.” It was at that point that Sarah became a regular in my prayers = )
When we moved to Colorado Springs Mark would come and visit. One visit is permanently engrained in my mind. We were newly married and taking care of a seven year old and her five year old brother for 3 weeks. Being newly married and having an instant family was a bit stressful. I remember Pete and Mark had left early in the morning to go fishing and were now about a half hour late for dinner. The nine year old came up to me and said “I think we need to pray for them.” I was rushing to finish dinner, help the younger one with his homework and clean up a bit. I looked at her and said “Laura, they are ALWAYS late when they are together – they’re fine.” She looked at me and insisted – “no we need to pray.” I apologized and we prayed together for their safety and their friendship. Five minutes later Pete called and informed me that he had fallen off a 35 to 40 foot cliff and in an effort to grab him before he fell Mark had dislodged a boulder which missed hitting Pete in the head by about 3 inches. Pete miraculously survived with only some scrapes and at dinner they were laughing that Pete was able to survive the fall but was almost done in by Mark. I learned my lesson and prayed often for them whenever they were together.
I don’t know why we lost Mark and trying to explain all of this to my 3 year old has strengthened my faith in ways I cannot explain. I know there will never be another Mark but losing him has taught me the importance of praying for Pete and for his friendships. It has also taught me to encourage Pete to look for those trips with friends. To go guilt free, instead of “really, you going away for ten days and leaving me by myself with two kids, no family around and a large dog.” To encourage him to cherish the time and to have the adventures that made Mark, Mark and make Pete, Pete. There is a line from a hymn “soon and very soon we are going to see the King.” There is comfort in that.
May you be blessed,
Nicky Engblom

Saturday, May 19, 2007

"...with that million dollar grin" Memories of Mark by Dawn (Mark's Cousin)

My memories of Mark go all the way back to when he was born. Being that I am his cousin, we had numerous visits and babysitting stories to share as we both became adults. Mark was a wonderful inspiration to all lives that he touched. I had the privilege of playing golf with he and John last September right after Labor Day at Stone Orchard. I had no idea what I was getting myself into when I saw both he and John hit the ball!! It took off like a rocket, and of course always landed in just the right place. I remember both Mark and John both saying to me, just get up there "Dawnie", and hit it, you can do it!! All of us that day had a great round, and enjoyable late summer sunny day, with lots of laughing, and fellowship. I had no idea, that that day would be the only time that I would have the privledge to witness such athletic talent with a most difficult and challenging sport. The most lovable memory I will always have is Mark's smile. He always could light up a room with that million dollar grin. I was so lucky to have Mark as my cousin, and tohave him in my life if only for a brief little while. He has etched a warm spot in my heart,and I will never forget you.

Rest well my dear friend, and know thatwe all miss you tremendously.


Your cousin in Colorado Dawn

Friday, May 18, 2007

Reflections on Mark -- Peter Engblom

Anybody who knew Mark would consider me an extremely fortunate person since I had the opportunity to live with Mark as room-mates for four years. There is no doubt that besides my parents, Mark was the most influential person in my life. I was instantly inspired by his character and his friendship was absolutely a gift to me from God. Rather than try to share in writing how substantial my life was changed by Mark I prefer to write about some of the more memorable stories and memories I have of Mark. I encourage anyone who has interest to contact me and I would be ecstatic to share how Mark changed my life. Two scriptures I know very well described our relationship beautifully. Proverbs 18:24; A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother. My apologies to my brother Josiah but Mark was that friend to me. Secondly Proverbs 27:17. As iron sharpens iron, so one man sharpens another. There is no doubt that Mark sharpened me.

In any sport we played (or made up) be it wrestling, wiffle bat fights, or broomball Mark’s competitiveness broke all rules (particularly in contact sports). He was a wild animal in a cage ready to spring on you. In my memory this was no more evident than in broomball which if you are not familiar with the ridiculous game you can look it up. Mark was the dirtiest and sneakiest player on the ice, no question. The type of player you despise playing against and absolutely love to have on your team. My wife’s comments summed it up perfectly. “He’s such a nice person but watching him play I wanted to throttle him for the other team”. He’d pull jerseys, slip in elbows, sweep feet, and his favorite “lay the lumber” his way of describing inflicting bruises with his stick. In a game progressed enough to have graphite and aluminum shafted brooms, Mark preferred a heavy wooden shaft with a few pounds of hockey tape so that he had weight behind the swings he made for the ball (that were more intended for the imposing player’s shin). The beautiful thing was that he rarely took a penalty, performing his tricks at just the right moment, inciting near riot with the opposing team but sweet talking the Ref to believe that this little guy was the victim. He had close friends in Bethel inter-mural ball drop gloves on Mark only to get embarrassed. He was the direct reason for several game ending brawls in the bar league we played in. None more memorable than when Mark’s dad, John, who was subbing for me out with a separated shoulder came running into the fight ready to take on guys half his age and twice his size. Like father, like son. Mark was a fearless competitor who gave us many (albeit ugly) wins and we loved him for that.

Mark had an incredible sense for adventure. In my experience fly fishing with him I had the most terrifying and most peaceful times in my life. Peaceful fly fishing was “easy” to obtain. With Mark it entailed gearing up in hot musty waders and then taking a 2-3 mile hike down the river before wetting the line. This brought countless hours of my best friend, my stretch of river, and the calming wait for the first strike. Frequently we’d take just one rod for the two of us, trading off after each fish. Quietly stalking finicky Rainbows on the Rush River. I remember once admiring the superiority of Mark’s cast on one such trip only to get hit by his back cast and have my right ear completely pierced by the fly. Mark crushed the barb, pulled it back through and immediately proceeded to fish again. The only reason he was in a hurry was so that he could land his fish so that it would be my turn again. He preferred coaching me to a fish, and I preferred watching the master work.

I do however have several terrifying memories of fishing with Mark which I now look back upon with fondness for the adventure and a sense of blessing for the happy ending.

One spring Mark and I (and Hamish) had the ridiculous urge to make the 14 hr drive from the Twin Cities to fish the Big Horn River in Montana for the weekend and then drive the 14 hrs back in time for classes. Armed with little more preparation than the purchase of a pound of red Twizzlers we set out in the subBurby. We arrived late Friday night after getting nearly rammed by a herd of wild buffalo because Hamish thought he was all tough barking at them from inside the Burby. We slept in our seats and awoke early to meet with Alvin to arrange the 14 mile float. The fishing was terrible, fighting high winds and a dog that preferred swimming the 14 miles to riding the boat. It was an absolutely wonderful day.

Sunday proved to be better fishing. We had calm winds and an exhausted dog. Mark of course out fished me 3:1. The original “plan” had been to alternate driving through the night to get back for Monday class. The fishing was too good to stop and before we knew it the sun had set, we were covered in mosquito bites, and utterly exhausted having fished about 14 hrs straight. We decided to leave the river, eat at Pizza Hut 20 some miles down the road and then make for a camp further down the road. Pizza Hut ended up being a bad choice given that we both became explosively sick by the time we got to camp. The camp choice was worse however since a few hours after lying down in our tent the camp site was being circled by two trucks stuffed full of from what we could tell “hooting” young men. We were on a camp site located within the Crow Indian Reservation and felt very unwelcome.

Mark and I prayed and when the circling stopped we packed up camp in about 20 seconds flat, busted out of there and nearly caught air in the Burby over an enormous bump in the dirt “road”. We were followed by an entourage of now three cars onto Interstate 94. On the freeway we noticed we were running on fumes and again we prayed together. We had no choice but to exit at our next chance and pray that a gas station was open as it was now about 2am. If you’ve driven through eastern Montana you’d understand the earnest at which we prayed. We had to drive about 2 miles off the freeway to get to the town for that exit and we immediately thought we had made a terrible mistake as the newest thing we saw in town was an auto body shop with chipped paint and broken windows. Our prayers were answered, however, because as if dropped down from heaven was a brand new gas station with credit card pumps. Mark jumped out of the truck and started filling the bone dry tank and hopped right back in. Moments later the trucks came by and again circled us around and around the gas pumps. We could clearly see them, all men with faces painted in white. Totally bizarre, totally Montana, and totally terrifying. Mark jumped out of the driver seat, threw off the pump, and we took off again. Fortunately the Burby despite its size had a max speed just under 100 mph. 30 miles and 10 gallons of gas later we had completely ditched them and pulled over at a rest stop with a bunch of semi trailers. We literately threw our gear out the back and absolutely crashed in the back of the Burby. Hamish who had slept through the whole thing was more than happy to cuddle between Mark and I. Monday morning we packed up and made our way back home. On the way we noticed Hamish had a few ticks on him which immediately alarmed us having slept skin on fur with him that night. Fortunately all 159 ticks we found preferred Hamish to Mark and me.

I can honestly say that I have no regrets with the time I spent with Mark. Each memory I have is filled with an incredible sense of brotherhood, love and memorable adventure. When I started thinking about the last times I’d shared with Mark I found it strikingly fitting how memorable they were. The last time I played Broomball with Mark, he and I were on the ice together in overtime in the championship game for a tournament that we had entered as a rag-tag team. Mark scored the sudden death goal to win it. The last time we skied together was at Big Sky where after a full day of cranking we decided to race the 3+ mile course from the top of Lone Peak down to the lodge. On burning legs this was a horrible idea and Mark of course won. To my credit, he was skiing and I boarding so he had better have won. The last time we fished together was on the Madison during the Salmon and Golden Stone hatch. Once-in-a-lifetime fishing that was incredible. The last time I saw him was in Montana. I was driving back to Colorado, he flying back to Illinois. Leaving before him from the Grizzly One he gave me a hug completely in nude and said we’d see each other again soon.

Not soon enough, my friend, but I look forward to praising the Lord by your side when I get there.

Peter Engblom

Grouse Hunting in the Boundary Waters - Posted by Ted Kemen

It will have been 11 years ago this October that Mark led myself, Kris Kirby, and Ryan Froelich into the vast expanse known as the Boundary Waters. None of us had been there before. Mark had a connection with a guiding outfit. They hooked us up with two aluminum canoes and gave us a map, the rest was up to us. We found our way through a couple of lakes and landed on an island which would be our base camp. The trees were just starting to lose their colors and the night air hovered around the freezing mark. It was perfect fall weather. Our days were spent fishing and exploring. The grouse population was at the high end of it's cycle. There were grouse landing in trees ten feet away from us at our camp site. While portaging our canoes we were flushing all kinds of grouse. If you have ever hunted grouse you know it is rare to get within 10 yards of one. It was a special year. Mark decided we should probably try and harvest some of these "quail" God had blessed us with. As Kirby and Froelich portaged our canoes, Mark and I walked the trail for grouse. Our weapon of choice, rocks. Leeks spotted the first grouse on the side of the trail. He devised a plan for me to chase the grouse up a small hill and he would ambush it. Grouse are extremely skittish, they tend to run a couple of feet into thick cover and then you never see them again. Well, Leeks had the right plan. I slowly crept up on this unsuspecting grouse while Leeker got into place. This plan played out just as we hoped it would. Leeks throw was dead on as the bird ran directly toward him. We had grouse that night for dinner and a cold O'Doul's to wash it down in celebration of Kirby's 21 st birthday.
Incredible memories of an incredible guy.
-Ted Kemen 5/18/07

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Memories- By Jim Forsythe

From the ages of 12 to 17 Mark and I were very close. We were on the same hockey team for 3 years. I slept over at his house more that I slept at my parents house. There are so many memories I have of Mark, but there is one that sticks out the most and forever will.I can't remember that exact year, but Mark and I were playing on the same hockey team when we were Bantams. I had broke my arm in his basement playing some game in which we shot one another with Nerf arrows while flying around on Rollerblades. After that I was unable to play hockey for the remainder of the season. Our team got another goaltender for the last games before the playoffs. I couldn't go to the games because I hated the fact I was not playing and they were winning. Our team, minus me, had just won the game to send them into the championship game. I was at home and I got a phone call from Mark. He was calling from his Dad's Suburban. If you knew Mark and were friends with him, then you knew about the StarCraft Suburban. It had one of those old school cell phones between the front seats. Anyway, Mark called me to tell me they won. Or course I didn't want to hear that, but nevertheless, he told me they won 4 to nothing. I asked how the goalie on our team played. Mark's exact words were, "He was brutal". Now, our goalie had a shutout and stopped every puck he saw. How Brutal could he have been? Mark knew that it was eating me up inside about not playing and by him saying that made me feel so much better and that was just how Mark was. He always wanted to make others feel good. After that they picked me up for another 3 day/night sleep over at the Wauterlek residents.Some other quick memories of Mark.............Him launching pucks at me in the basementNot letting me sleep at hockey camp until I could heap. Don't ask!Making cinnamon heaps before church( Tortillas with a couple pads of butter and tons of cinnamon and sugar. Zap in microwave for 30 seconds, roll and enjoy)
Making home videos......I am sure some of you have heard of "The Video"

Opening boxes of hockey cards, launching golf balls with the water balloon launcher.
Painting the fence out by the road. I don't think we ever finished!
"Here's your cone"
Whenever I would get hurt doing something I shouldn't have, Mark would say "enjoy the pain". Carnation instant breakfasts.
Golf ball hawking.
He never fought with his brother, I never saw it.
That tells you a lot about Mark.
Wing commander. He was the pilot and I was the gunner.
Jim Paek

All of these make me laugh out loud. That was all we did. I always had fun with Mark. He was so cool to be with and he always made you feel good. He just had that positivity about him. You hear of people being filled with the Lord, and Mark really was one of those people. I cherish every memory. I always had a good time when we hung out.

You will be missed Mark! You were the "Wayne Gretzky" of friends!

The best of the best.

Jim Forsythe

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Memories of Mark - by Mark Allen

Mark and I clicked rather quickly in August of 2005 as we started the part-time MBA program at Kellogg together. Over 20 months, I cannot express or describe how our friendship formed so quickly, but in the blink of an eye, Mark and Sarah were integral parts of me and my wife Leslie’s current and future plans together. We were headed down to the Indy 500 this coming Memorial Day and my wife and I were starting to look for real estate in the Glen Ellyn market. After Mark’s funeral service on a wonderful day perfect for fishing, hunting, and golfing, I realize how blessed I was to have known Mark, albeit for such a short period of time.
There are two distinct images/memories of Mark that I will remember:
Mark and our dog Miller
Having the chance to meet a number of Mark’s friends this past week, there was a consistent theme whereas Mark would put others’ enjoyment ahead of his own when doing certain activities. A reminder of that selflessness carried into his love for dogs, specifically our female puggle Miller. Our dog is admittedly oblivious and 100% loving to anyone who comes into our house. Friends, family, pizza deliverymen, plumbers, etc., Miller loves everyone equally…except for Mark. When Mark would come over to our house or when we would visit him and Sarah in Glen Ellyn, Miller would attack Mark with kisses, licks, friendly nibbles on the ear, and Mark would sit down, happily, with a content smile as our dog would dirty his shirt, mess up his hair, and disrupt our conversations. Miller’s excitement for Mark was unmatched and she knew how special he was. A few of these pictures display Mark’s happiness with life…and Miller’s infatuation with Mark. Miller will miss Mark deeply.
Playing golf with Mark
Mark and I played sunrise golf at Stonewall Orchard most Saturday’s last summer. Sunrise coming from downtown Chicago to a course 49 miles away meant pretty early wake-up calls and a lot of coffee on the drive out there. I will always remember pulling into the course, driving into the parking lot while it was still dark outside, and seeing Mark in the cart up near the tee box. He would drive to my car to pick me up, he’d have a coffee and donut in the cart for me, and we’d both be extremely excited to golf regardless of wiping the sleep from our eyes heading up to the 1st tee. Sometimes, extra enjoyably, his dad would play and I’d be the 3rd player driving alone but Mark would still have that coffee/donut in my cart and that excitement we shared was evident throughout the round. The closest that Mark ever got to making fun of me was come the 2nd hole (and 5th, 8th, 11th, and 15th holes) I’d have to jump into the woods for a minute and he would jokingly inquire if I brought my grandpa bladder with me. I’d argue it was the 48 ounces of coffee before 7 a.m. but he wouldn’t buy it. It was a (bad) running joke round after round but I’ll remember our shared laugh each time it was repeated.
Losing my favorite golf partner these past two seasons is going to be difficult. Having a Stonewall Orchard bag with clubs Mark helped me pick out will be a symbolic reminder of how important he was in my life. I’m writing this on Saturday morning whereas a week and a half ago I’d have believed right now we’d likely be finishing up our round heading to Bobby’s Diner for brunch with Mark’s dad. You will be sorely missed by many Mark. I cannot wait to see you again on the 1st tee.
Mark Allen.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Muskegeon Monster '04

Tony Barthel and I spent a crazy night/dawn/day chasing steelies up in Michigan with Mark sometime in the spring of 2004. The trip was full of misadventure, hunger, thirst (poor planning) thunderstorms, an inadvertently pulled plug (we nearly sank the boat) and lots of fish, most not surprisingly including this monster-buck were caught by Mark.

Mark has been asking me for this photo for the past several years. I had planned to find it and get him a framed copy for his 30th. Never got around to it. Wish I had.

Mark's battle for this fish was nothing short of incredible, it began with an extremely difficult up and cross stream cast. The fish was active but stubborn. On gravel in about a 3ft section of shallow slow water just down stream from a point/bend. There was a heavy seam to the left of the fish, Mark needed to cast over and along the seam to get a natural drift. An impossibly hard cast. To get a fly to drift naturally, even just for a few feet, and into the feeding zone required about a 35ft cast upstream in fast water with several quick aggressive precise mends. About a 9.9 out of 10 on the scale of difficulty. I remember it so vividly because it was amazing that he nailed it. 99% of all fly fisherman would be incapable of making it, most wouldn't even try, or they'd give up after the first ugly attempt. Including me.

Mark hooked this fish on the 3rd or 4th drift. It took him on a wild down river run through very deep and difficult terrain. It's hard to tell from the photo but Mark was drenched and probably got a little wet inside his waders.

But one epic battle that stands out among dozens that I will always remember. Mark was a ninja with the fly rod, without question the most talented fly fisherman I've ever fished with.

-Graham (looking forward to Tony's memory of this trip)

Apparently when Sarah & Mark were in New Zealand their guide said Mark was, "about a 7 out 10 with the rod." Mark must have been jet-lagged that day, and if their guide was like most he was full of... lets call it hyperbole. He would have revised his statement had he seen Mark catch this steelie.

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Wednesday, May 9, 2007

from my journal...


Back in Christmas of 2002, as a gift, i bought matching journals for Mark and I to use to plan and record all of the future epic adventures we would experience together. A couple weeks later time we sat down to start planning our calendar for 2003 and to dream big for the epic adventures that we would pursue in years to come.

here's the excerpt:

January 14, 2003 - trip planning

1. Gunting (a very unique form of golfing and hunting to which i will speak to later) - early november 2003 - ** for sure

2. Flyfishing trout - Bighorn River - Billings, MT - April 25-28, 2003 ** - for sure

3. Flyfishing trout - Madison River - Big Sky, MT - June 18 - 22, 2003 ** - for sure

4. Hunting Bluebills - Lake of the Woods - Nestor Falls, OT - Oct 15-19 or Oct 29 - Nov1

other possibilities - Hunting hogs in tx, ducks and geese in saskatch or SD

Dreams and epic trips for life:
  • Argentina - Duck & Goose

  • Tierra del fuego - Southern most tip of argentina - giant sea run trout

  • Chile - float trip - trout

  • Alaska - sea ducks - harlequin, old squaw, eiders and scoters - Island X

  • Alaska - cast & blast - salmon, puddleducks, and ptarmigan

  • Kamchatka peninsula, Russia - giant trout

  • Mongolia - fish for 4ft long taimen

  • New Zealand - cast & blast, giant trout and ducks from down under

  • Seychelles - Milkfish, bones, etc

  • Yucatan - Bones

  • Belize/venezuela - bones, permit, tarpon

  • cabo - roosterfish, sailfish

P.S. - the photos attached are proof that Leeks and i were not just planning for the sake of planning. 2003 produced several great adventures to the bighorn, madison, gunting, steve-o's cabin for ducks, and bluebills (super-charged, jet screaming ducks) on lake of the woods.
Love you Leeks.

- Benjamin Henry Duininck

Sunday, May 6, 2007


Mark Wauterlek, 30, of Glen Ellyn, formerly of Barrington Hills, at rest Thursday, May 3, 2007, as a result of a plane crash in Beaverhead County, MT. Most beloved husband of Sarah Elizabeth (nee Carlson); cherished son of John and Vicky of Barrington Hills; dear brother of Michael of Chicago; and further survived by many fond relatives and friends. Visitation Tuesday, 5 to 9 p.m., at Willow Creek Chapel, 67 E. Algonquin Rd., South Barrington. Funeral service, Wednesday, 10 a.m., at the Chapel. Interment Evergreen Cemetery, Barrington. Memorials in Mark's name may be made to World Relief-Zambia, 7 E. Baltimore St., Baltimore, MD 21202 or to Hands of Hope, 800 Hart Rd., Ste. 100, Barrington, IL 60010. For information, 847-381-3411. Chicago Tribune May 6, 2007

Friday, May 4, 2007

"big swirls in the ponds on the back nine" - golf with Mark on Tuesday


Yesterday, May 3rd 2007. Mark died in a plane crash while flying to Montana to fish the famous "mothers day may fly hatch" in Bear Trap Canyon near the Madison river in Dillon, Montana.

He received a last minute invite as a spot became available less than a week out from the departure. Mark was an ideal invite for such last minute excursions as he could nearly always be counted on to adjust his schedule to squeeze in a trip. And who could resist a float down the bear trap?

I met Mark and Sarah about 5 years ago. Ben introduced us just before they moved to Chicago from Minneapolis. We talked fishing from day 1 and ever since we've been co-conspirators in dozens upon dozens of spontaneous and planned fishing escapes, mainly day or overnight trips to Wisconsin or Michigan to chase steelhead and trout. Also a few epic trips (to be discussed in another entry) to the Madison, Smith and Mo rivers in Montana.

Loosing Mark, my fish-addict friend, is loosing one of the main catalysts in my life for joy and escape into the timeless wonder and adventure that goes along with fishing. We shared the same wonderful silly addiction: fly fishing for steel head and trout. And feeding this addiction from Chicago involves lots of windshield time between rivers like the Sheboygan (6 hr round trip) in Wisconsin and various rivers in northern and south western Michigan. So much time was shared chewing the the fat between home and rivers. I miss him severely. I cannot yet imagine how it is possible that the next span of life will be spent chasing fish, chasing life... without him.

This past Tuesday I was fortunate to spend one last afternoon and evening with Mark. He was chosen for jury duty and spent the morning at the court house. Of course, zero time was spent in court but according to Mark the morning was not a waste as he spent most of the day getting to know fellow jurors.

He was released from his duties around 2:30 pm. I got a call at 2:31 (normally this call would have gone to Joe, or Tony or others... as I'm not really much of a golfer). I didn't immediately answer... so I received in classic Mark style a series of progressively more urgent text messages suggesting that if we acted fast we might yet still be able to pull off 18 holes before dark.

We were on off the first tee by 4:10.

While on the first tee I noticed a cork handle protruding from Mark's golf bag, I pointed... he shrugged mischievously and I can still vividly hear his voice as he said, "I've seen some big swirls in the ponds on the back nine."

For the record we would have easily finished 18 holes before dark, had we not stopped to fish most of the ponds on the back nine.

Mark is a quasi-expert in the art of combining sports. "Gunting" comes to mind, stories for Ben or others to share... And of course the "cast and blast" -- a Mark outing that combines pheasant hunting and fishing in the same day; which I experienced with Bristol and Mark a few months back. There are rumors of a college golf team trip to Alabama (or somewhere in the deep south) that involved a trophy large mouth bass that Mark caught, and here's the rumor "during tournament play." Mark's not one to exaggerate... his tendency is to downplay everything... I'd love to hear the rest of this story from one of his college golf teammates.

I grew up golfing, and fishing on golf courses after dark, but Tuesday was my first experience with the integrated experience dubbed the "swing" and "cast." The course was mostly empty so we alternated between casting and swinging on the water holes. It should be noted that Mark forced me to take the rod when we saw the first really big swirl, even though it was my turn to hit. Other's who have fished and hunted with Mark will recognize what I'm highlighting here, Mark prioritized your experience before his own. Selfless. As a sportsman, Mark was skilled and lucky beyond belief (more on that topic in another entry). When you fished with Mark, he made sure you were on the "A-grade water" first. Often he would be up river, around the bend scoping out the next section of water, he'd then wave you around and get you onto the good spot.

As the round progressed, the focus shifted away from the golf (it was fairly ugly, normal for me highly abnormal for Mark) and toward one of those timeless conversations that will forever be etched in my mind, topics included eternity, culture and theology, interpretation and the problem of knowledge, God's covenant with Abraham and what would have happened if Abraham didn't call out God? and the conflicts and similarities between Judaism, Christianity and Islam. We covered a lot of ground. Our talk was stimulated by Mark's experience at the court house earlier in the day. Mark spent the bulk of the morning talking with an elderly man who was a devote Muslim. They had talked for hours about their own individual faiths, the view of America and the war from within the Muslim community, etc. Mark peppered him with questions about Islam. They discussed how both the Christian and Muslim faiths have been distorted and caricatured in the media.


St. Paul in 1 Corinthians nails the the human condition when he writes, "Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror." Some translations put it another way, "now we see darkly as in a mirror" a direct reference to Plato's allegory of the cave and a statement that would have made much more sense in the first century when mirrors were polished rock, or whatever they were, yielding an inconsistent reflection. St. Paul's statement describes how limited our vision is and how incomplete our interpretations are in the face of truth. We don't see or understand fully.


I picture two men, both walking and wrestling with their own relationship with God, devote in their own faith traditions, engaged in respectful horizon expanding conversation, learning and sharing about each other's lives and experiences. Both aware of the the orthodox perspectives of their own religion, which puts the other (in the end) in hell not heaven. I imagine both were uncomfortable with this unspeakable question.


St. Paul continues on with his description of the human condition "Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known. And these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love."


During golf, Mark expressed that he was glad that it was God's decision, not his own, about who goes to Heaven in the end. He was curious about the guy he met, curious about his devotion to Islam, full of wonder and hope for his eternal soul, the soul of someone our fear based world calls our enemy. He was content to not try and figure that one out. I don't believe Mark thought of too many people as enemies (with the exception of Joe & Paige's cat).
As I reflect on my time with Mark on Tuesday, the image of his time at court speaks volumes about how he lived a life of faith. Mark was secure in what he believed and full of curiosity and wonder, he wanted to know / experience more. He lived life in constant pursuit of more. He was always reading and recommending a new book, planning the next uber-adventure and scheming / cracking some code related to fishing or hunting. He lived in pursuit of the fullness that St. Paul talks about in Corinthians. This made him a wonderful and rare human being and friend, a constant catalyst for adventure, good times and conversation. I will miss him severely.

In sadness and hope,

-Graham M. Smith May 4 2007

A quotable from the fourth or fifth hole:

Mark mutters after I shank one into the trees, "that's what you get for using the word hermeneutics on the golf course... that word's reserved for the 19th hole."