MARK LEE STEPHENS
October 21, 2020
Mark Lee Stephens, 72, went to sleep and woke up with the Lord on October 10, 2020. He was many things- a storyteller, patriot, a corporate executive, a collector, a woodworker, a car guy, most recently, a novice crabber – but, above all, he was a loyal friend, a loving father and grandfather, and a devoted husband to his one true love.
Mark was born in Ventura, CA on November 14, 1947 and raised on the island of Oahu, Hawaii. As an only child, he had fond memories of running around barefoot with friends and eating fresh mango plucked from a neighbor’s tree. Mark attended Punahou through grade school and then returned to California at the age of 12. His family settled in San Mateo where he loved surfing and fishing before graduating from Hillsdale High School in 1965.
After a brief stint in the Merchant Marine at the age of 18, Mark enlisted in the United States Navy and was stationed at Floyd Bennett Field in Brooklyn, N.Y. He was 21 when he met blonde-haired, blue-eyed Christina Andersen at a dance. She saw him from across the room and, in her words, her heart went pitter patter. He was immediately smitten too. After a bi-coastal courtship, they were married in New York City on January 23, 1971 and lovingly raised two children together – Christian (46) and Sara (43).
Mark graduated from SUNY New Paltz with a degree in Economics in 1974 when Christina was nine months pregnant with their first child. He worked for IBM in Poughkeepsie before moving with the company to Baltimore, MD. In 1979, Mark found an opportunity on Long Island, N.Y. with a staffing company. His family settled in the town of Nesconset where they found a church home at St. James United Methodist and made friends throughout the community who are still in their lives to this day.
Mark was a talented recruiter and started his own business, Software Search, which afforded him the opportunity to work out of their home. He had the flexibility to work hard and provide for his family yet was there to greet his children when they returned from school and participate in field trips and scouting activities. Mark was always busy in his shop, making everything from planters to sell at the church fundraiser, to carved wooden gifts for friends, to the guinea pig’s cage at his children’s school. He was a true renaissance man who loved to read, create works of art and share his talents with others.
In 1989, an opportunity presented itself in the Seattle area with Management Recruiters as a Branch Manager.
Always up for an adventure, Mark and his family moved to Redmond, WA. His diverse skillset and management expertise ultimately landed him at CNA, a small company looking for someone to grow its consulting business.
Under Mark’s leadership, CNA became Solutions IQ and experienced exponential growth as one of the premier consulting companies in the area.
Mark would say he was most proud of his ability to identify talent and nurture careers.
His legacy continued to live on long after he left the company judging by the many lasting friendships, mentorships, and his reputation in the industry.
In 2017, Mark and Christina moved north to the Shelter Bay community in La Conner, WA and settled into an active life that included becoming a member of the La Conner United Methodist Church, working part-time at the local newspaper, participating in the Shelter Bay Yacht Club, and working with a dedicated group of volunteers at the La Conner Food Bank where he sat on the Board. He made wonderful friends and greatly enjoyed dinner parties, fishing, crabbing, and supporting the Shelter Bay Choir as a “groupie” in support of one of Christina’s passions.
Mark loved deeply. His family and friends meant the world to him and he conducted his life in a manner where everyone knew they were loved, valued, and appreciated. No one knew that more than Christina. When they were first married and living in a tiny two-room apartment, Mark asked Christina what room she would be in that evening because he wanted to be near her. That sentiment continued throughout their nearly 50 years of marriage and was a great testament to their enduring love.
Mark is survived by his love, Christina, their son, Christian Stephens and his wife Susan, daughter, Sara Hyatt, her husband Troy, and their children, Owen (14), Amelia (12) and Hattie (6). He was preceded in death by his parents, William and Fern Stephens. Mark also leaves behind cousins whom he held dear to his heart including Bill Hillsman and Margie Pries.
A celebration of life will be held in Mark’s honor next spring or summer when large gatherings are once again commonplace; details will be shared with family and friends when the planning begins. If you wish to make a donation in Mark’s name, the La Conner Food Bank is where he spent every Monday helping separate dry goods, sort produce donations, and provide for the community that he so loved. You can make a donation through their website: www.laconnerfoodbank.com/cash-donations or mail a check to: La Conner Food Bank, P.O. Box 922, La Conner, WA 98257.
Please take a moment to share your fond memories of Mark and condolences for his family at www.kernfuneralhome.com.