Friend with lessons for us all

The size of the crowd at Mark Holm’s memorial service in Albuquerque on Saturday told me he was valued as much for his grace as a person as his talent as a photojournalist.

Several hundred people turned out, I’d guess. This struck me as exceptional for a newspaper person, especially for we 60-somethings, who started out in newsroom environments far more caustic than today’s.

Mark Holm probably always would have been exemplary, though, then or now. His brother, Peter, said yesterday it just wasn’t in Mark’s nature to be fierce, competitive or cruel. He had another way.

After learning of his death at 63, friends and co-workers described him as a quiet, kind and generous guy. He was remembered as patient, mirthful and encouraging; mentor to many younger people coming up in the business. We were not close friends, and I did not know him well, but working with him always felt good. My recurring image is that he always had a smile for you. I thought he had an aura; I understand now it was the aura of a beautiful person. I liked him from the start.

Mark’s grown-up kids — Alison, Mary Kate and Luke —  did wonderful jobs of remembering their father with poignant, well-chosen words. All three managed through grief and the stress of public speaking to draw a little fond, knowing laughter from the memorial service’s big, sad crowd. I suspect they learned the trick from their father — known for grinning under a mustache that one daughter, with what seemed like familiar, gentle humor, described as “confident but not aggressive.”

Mark didn’t need a camera for a penetrating look. You saw genuine interest when he faced you. You knew he listened, just as he might study through the lense. One of the memories that impressed me most yesterday was a daughter describing a father with the patience and love to learn and build on what was unique in each of his three children. It showed in their poise Saturday.

I never get over wondering what’s fair about a good person dying, especially when they seem so young. The loss seems so great I wouldn’t know what to suggest as consolation for Mark’s wife, Joan, who, by the way, I do not mean to overlook in the child-rearing equation here. But I am impressed with how much Mark Holm meant to so many people.

So far, the only conclusion I’ve been able to draw from his passing is that, day-to-day, dealing with others, I should try to be more like him.

And I probably should just move on alone with my thoughts, but I guess it’s the newspaperman in me that compels me to report on the memorial service. And word herder that I am, I’ll inflict one more cliche on my photographer friend: Here is a picture worth a thousand words.

mark holm

2 thoughts

  1. This is lovely, John, thanks for posting. For those of us who didn’t know Mark personally, your report evokes some important things to think about.

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  2. His roots run deep to a profound respect for humanity as a body and people as individuals coupled with an impeccable eye for capturing moments. It was a sad day indeed, actually a sad year with the hints this could be the outcome, but you captured well yesterday’s brightness. I told Joan I was stepping back into the sunshine inspired. She smiled.

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