Mark William Lewis passed peacefully at his home on January 30th, 2024, in Salt Lake City, Utah while holding the hands of his wife, daughter, and cherished stepson, at the age of 59. Mark was a retired former Federal Security Director and Transportation Security Administration Representative and attaché at the U.S. Embassy in Bangkok, Thailand.
Mark held many notable titles and critical positions within the Marine Corps. Gunnery Sergeant Lewis entered the United States Marine Corps in 1982 at the age of 18. After recruit training in San Diego, California he completed training as an Aircraft Hydraulic Mechanic at NAS Millington, Tennessee. Upon completion of training, he served as an Aircraft Hydraulic Mechanic for Heavy Marine Helicopter Squadron–361, AG – 16, also Third Marine Aircraft Wing at Marine Corps Air Station (MCASH) Tustin, California. He completed two deployments to Okinawa during his tour with The Flying Tigers. While deployed to the Republic of the Philippines, Sergeant Lewis was assigned to Marine Air Ground Task Force 4-90, flying relief missions in support of Mount Pinatubo Volcano eruption and earthquake victims. November 1992, Sergeant Lewis reported to the Commander of Naval Air Forces US, Atlantic Fleet, NAS, Norfolk, Virginia, where he lived as the Rotary Wing Maintenance Chief. Reporting to Marine Helicopter Training Squadron – 301 Aviation Support Element, First Marine Aircraft Wing, Marine Corps Base Kaneohe Bay in December 1995, Sergeant Lewis served as the Air Frames SNCOIC. In 1998 Gunnery Sergeant Lewis was assigned as the Quality Assurance SNCOIC with HMT – 301 and in October 2000 he was assigned as the Maintenance and Material Control Chief. Sergent Lewis was well respected for his knowledge, demeanor, work ethic and kept many of his United States Marine Corps experiences to himself, but shared an intimate portrait of playing Procol Harum's, 'A Whiter Shade of Pale' out of the loudspeakers of the CH-53A Helicopter whenever he and his three other crewmen were assigned to transport fallen soldiers. He asked his daughter, Leani to play the same song for him as he lay in his final days. "The Marine Corps really made me who I am today. It wasn’t something I did, it was who I became. I am forever loyal, and grateful to the Marine Corps, my brothers, and the amazing leaders I had during my career. Semper Fi," Mark wrote in a book to his family about his experience.
Mark married Catherine Bakk in 2008. Mark immediately accepted her son Nic as his own. He was fatherly in nature and loved him as if he were his biological child. Nic and Mark would enjoy riding ATVs across the Southwestern Utah Desert for hours at a time. Red dirt dusty days would end with time around a campfire. No music or playlist, they would leave the day with the sound of the fire crackling at their feet. Mark and Cathy loved to travel, and they knew that laughter was the shortest distance between two people, making each other’s hearts smile in unison.
Mark took great pride and honor in his beloved roles of son, brother, father, and husband. In addition to his Marine Corps mechanic assignments, Mark may have taken greatest pride as the lead mechanic to his daughter Leani's 1978 orange Volkswagen Transporter bus affectionately named Bernie. The pair worked on Bernie in Mark's garage through the Spring, Summer, and Fall of 2022 and into 2023 restoring the engine, transmission components, and some interior comforts which also includes a pop-up sleeper cabin. The repairs, lessons, and gentle learning moments with Mark gave Leani the ability to take Bernie on endless adventures. His knowledge and confidence were bestowed upon her, giving her the confidence and ability to work on Bernie by herself when his health and mobility were compromised. Mark promised he would stay by Leani's side during her future Bernie repairs.
Throughout Mark’s life he learned the art of carpentry. He worked on his own homes remodeling bedrooms, kitchens, bathrooms and completed each job with excellent workmanship. He and his son-in-law, Wesley Jarman, would come to learn more about each other during an extensive painting project. It was the first time Leani left her dad and then boyfriend alone, they quickly became friends. It was with no surprise that Wesley and Leani asked Mark for his opinion and guidance when he and Leani, now married, purchased a 120-year-old home in one of the oldest neighborhoods in Utah. Their decision was well thought out, but the abridged timeline they were given to decide caused for an immediate rush. They quickly went through, under and over every detail. Mark’s confidence in them helped them decide to move forward with the purchase. One day after working on the house with them Mark secretly wrote words of his own encouragement and love on the exposed studs and blockings. Mark's words are forever sealed within their walls.
Mark treasured spending one on one vacation time with his kids. Any alone time with him, vacation or not, was a gift. He would say to them over the dinner table, during family time... "We could go here...." their next forecast destination. However, if the idea shared was popular enough it usually became a family trip. Alone time would have to be separately planned, but never put off or substituted. Mark knew how to be purposeful with his family time. They most recently enjoyed a final last family trip to Las Vegas, NV over Labor Day weekend 2023. Having lived in Las Vegas by himself for a time, Mark could arrange for the perfect visit.
Mark was a loving parent who wanted everything for his children. The confidence Mark had in us could go unmatched in this lifetime.Mark offered support and guidance to all his children and wanted to create crucial learning moments where he would show patience and understanding. He would thoughtfully describe what might be needed and carefully watched over them, guiding them through their corrections. He was patient and gave them time to learn. With all his strength and knowledge,
"The Marine Corps really made me who I am today. It wasn’t something I did, it was who I became... Mark knew he couldn't protect his children from everything. Mark's heart was broken after the loss of his beloved son Anthony Lewis who he had with his first wife Mila Manacop. Mark held a town hall in 'Tony's' honor and memory to change the rhetoric surrounding opioid access. “It’s amazing to me after Tony died, how many people I talked to who say they’ve been affected with their family friends or niece or nephew, but nobody seems to talk about it,” he says. “We’ve learned there are a lot of people working on the problem, but there’s still a lack of awareness by those who can make a difference, and we want to get the conversation started.” Mark's efforts are seen as a catalyst by many in the community that changed the way we talk, listen, and acknowledge opioid access and use.
Mark created purposeful space in time for all his family and friends to heal and learn when they faced trials and failures. He was a caretaker as much as he was a confident leader. Just like the heavy lifting helicopters that he so dutifully worked on throughout his career, Mark was able to repel many external forces so that he could provide lift and direction. He knew where to take us when we faced adversity and showed us how to safely land again. Mark was our universe, our safety, and our home so it is with no surprise that his family consciously and effectively surrounded him once learning of his stage IV colon cancer diagnosis. His family would stay by his side, supporting him as he had supported them until the end. His strong and loving wife Cathy Bakk, his Daughter Leani Lewis and his son Nicholas Van Schoor attended over 70 rounds of chemotherapy with him as he fought valiantly with the tireless efforts of all staff at Huntsman Cancer Institute.
Mark’s stoic presence, witty humor, and fatherly advice will be greatly missed. Mark loved us and we knew it. The void left in his absence will be filled with all that he respected, loved, and cherished.
Mark is survived by his wife Cathy Bakk Lewis, his Daughter Leani Lewis (Wesley Jarman) and his stepson Nicholas Van Schoor, and mother Jean Parrot Lewis and his siblings sister Dawn Andersen (Robert Stevens), sister Bethanie Barstow (Mike Barstow), and sister Becky Shaw (CJ Shaw), his lifelong friend, first wife and mother to his two children Milagros Manacop Lewis and is preceded in death by their beloved son Anthony Lewis (2014) and his Father Gerald Lewis (2018).
Friends are invited to celebrate Mark's life on Friday, February 16, 2024 from 6:00 until 8:00 PM at Starks Funeral Parlor, 3651 South 900 East, Salt Lake City, UT. Please use the parking and entrance located on the north side of the building.
He will be laid to rest in a private ceremony for family and close friends earlier that day at the Utah Veteran's Memorial Park with full military honor guard in attendance. This ceremony will be posted on this website for all to watch on demand.
Celebration of Life
Life Story Info
Cause of Death
Religion and Beliefs
- Marine Corps
- Gunnery Sergeant